Survey Finds Toxic or Dangerous Toys on Store Shelves

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Meghan Hess

Shopping Tips, Mobile Website Can Help Parents Shop Safe

PIRGIM Education Fund

ROYAL OAK, MI –Dangerous or toxic toys can still be found on America’s store shelves, according to the Public Interest Research Group in Michigan Education Fund’s 26th annual Trouble in Toyland report.

This morning PIRGIM Education Fund, joined by Donna Bucciarelli, RN, trauma prevention program coordinator for Beaumont Health System, and Erica Surman, a Grand Blanc mom, released the report. It reveals the results of laboratory testing on toys for lead and phthalates, both of which have been proven to have serious adverse health impacts on the development of young children.  The survey also found toys that pose either choking or noise hazards.

 “Choking on small parts, small balls and balloons is still a leading cause of toy-related injury. Between 1990 and 2009 over 200 children have died,” said PIRGIM Education Fund’s Meghan Hess. “While most toys are safe, our researchers still found toys on the shelves that pose choking hazards, and other toys that contain hazardous levels of toxic chemicals including lead,” she explained.

For 26 years, the PIRGIM Education Fund 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 smart phones at

Key findings from the report include:

• Toys with high levels of toxic substances are still on store shelves. Two toys contain levels of phthalates – a chemical that poses development hazards for small children — at 40 and 70 times allowable limits. Several toys violate current allowable lead limits (300ppm). Lead has negative health effects on almost every organ and system in the human body. 

• Despite a ban on small parts in toys for children under three, we found toys available in stores that still pose choking hazards. 

• We also found toys that are potentially harmful to children’s ears and exceed the hearing standards recommended by the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.

In 2008, Congress placed strict limits on concentrations of lead and phthalates in toys and children’s articles in a law that also gave greater authority and funding to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Hess noted that the CPSC has a new database of both potential hazards and recalled products at “We cannot, must not, weaken the most basic safety rules that protect young children, America’s littlest consumers,” said Hess.

“Parents and toy givers need to remember that while the CPSC is doing a good job, it doesn’t test all toys on the shelves.  Consumers should also remember that toys that are not on our list of examples could also pose hazards,” Hess concluded.

To read the report, click here.