Parents Beware – Many Toys Still Toxic, Hazardous

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Meghan Hess

PIRGIM Offers Tips and Interactive Tools to Help Consumers Shop Safely

PIRGIM Education Fund

Royal Oak, MI –Dangerous or toxic toys can still be found on America’s store shelves, the Public Interest Research Group in Michigan Education Fund (PIRGIM) announced today in its 25th annual Trouble in Toyland report.

PIRGIM Education Fund released its report, which reveals the results of laboratory testing for toxic chemicals and identifies toys that pose choking hazards, this morning. The report also includes guidance for avoiding common hazards. Helping to release the report were Donna Bucciarelli, RN BSN, Trauma Program Injury Prevention Coordinator at Beaumont Hospitals and Program Manager at Safety City USA, and Erica Surman, RN BSN, Pediatric Trauma Program Coordinator at Beaumont Hospitals 

 “We’ve made a lot of progress, but there is still danger in the toy box,” said PIRGIM Education Fund’s Meghan Hess. “PIRGIM’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, the PIRGIM Education Fund Trouble in Toyland report has offered safety guidelines for purchasing toys for small children and provides 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, PIRGIM found children’s products, including a baby doll that contained concentrations of phthalates 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 a DC-area toddler. 

• Lead and other metals have been severely restricted in toys in the past two years, but PIRGIM Education Fund researchers found 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 and PIRGIM has notified the CPSC. 

PIRGIM Education Fund and Safety City USA 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 eliminating choking hazards and regulating the tens of thousands of chemicals that are in the toys our children play with every day,” said Hess.

“Based on what I’ve seen as a pediatric nurse and injury prevention educator, these regulations on toys are working—few children are coming to the hospital after choking on a small toy part. However, when they do happen, these accidents are life-threatening,” noted Bucciarelli. “Toxic chemicals represent another kind of problem, as children are exposed to them in the long-term. The bottom line is that both of these dangers are avoidable.”

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. 

To read a copy of the report, click here.