Parents Beware – Many Toys Still Toxic, Hazardous

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U.S. PIRG Offers Tips and Interactive Tools to Help Consumers Shop Safely

U.S. PIRG Education Fund

WASHINGTON, Nov. 23 – Dangerous or toxic toys can still be found on America’s store shelves, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group announced today in its 25th annual Trouble in Toyland report.

The new report reveals the results of laboratory testing for toxic chemicals, identifies toys that pose choking hazards, and includes tips for avoiding common hazards when shopping. U.S. PIRG released the report this morning at a press conference with Consumer Product Safety Commissioner Robert Adler and Jennifer Tapper, a Washington, DC mother whose child nearly choked on a small part from a toy train.

“We’ve made a lot of progress, but dangerous toys can still be found among our children’s playthings,” said U.S. PIRG Public Health Advocate Liz Hitchcock. “U.S. PIRG’s report and the resources we offer will help consumers identify and avoid the worst threats and keep their children safe this year,” she explained.

For 25 years, U.S. PIRG’s Trouble in Toyland report has offered safety guidelines for purchasing toys for small children and provided examples of toys currently on store shelves that pose potential safety hazards. The group also provides an interactive website with tips for safe toy shopping that consumers can access on their smartphones at
Key findings from the report include:

• In 2009, many toys and other children’s products containing more than 0.1% of phthalates were banned. Still, U.S. PIRG found such products with phthalates, including a baby doll that contained concentrations up to 30%.

• Despite a ban on small parts in toys for children under three, there are still toys available that pose serious choking hazards, including a toy train with a wooden peg that, while compliant with current standards, nearly led to the choking death of one DC area child.

• Lead and other metals have been severely restricted in toys in the past two years, but U.S. PIRG’s laboratory tests revealed toys containing toxic lead and antimony on store shelves. Lead has negative health effects on almost every organ and system in the human body, and antimony is classified as a human carcinogen. Laboratory testing revealed one preschool book with antimony far above the limits.  U.S. PIRG has notified the CPSC.

U.S. PIRG noted that progress has been made on toy safety in the past two years thanks to a 2008 PIRG-backed law overhauling the CPSC, as well as new leadership at the agency.

“The CPSC is doing a good job under its expanded authority, but there is still more work to be done, especially when it comes to reducing choking hazards and regulating the tens of thousands of chemicals that may be in the toys our children play with,” said Hitchcock.

According to the most recent data from the CPSC, toy-related injuries sent more than 250,000 children – 90,000 under the age of five – to emergency rooms in 2009. Twelve children died from toy-related injuries that year.

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U.S. Public Interest Research Group takes on powerful interests on behalf of its members, working to win concrete results for our health and our well-being.