PIRG’s Trouble In Toyland

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Washington, DC– Hazardous toys are still sold in stores across the country, according to the 23rd annual toy safety survey released today.
According to the most recent data from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), toy-related injuries sent more than 80,000 children under the age of five to emergency rooms in 2007. Eighteen children died from toy-related injuries that year.

For 23 years, the PIRG “Trouble in Toyland” report has offered safety guidelines for purchasing toys for small children and has provided examples of toys currently on store shelves that pose potential safety hazards.
Among the findings of the 2008 Trouble In Toyland:

Toxic Phthalates: Numerous scientists have documented the potential health effects of exposure to phthalates in the womb or at crucial stages of development, including (but not limited to) reproductive defects, premature delivery, early onset of puberty and lower sperm counts. Effective February 2009, the CPSIA bans toys that contain concentrations of more than 0.1 percent of a toxic chemical called phthalates. PIRG found toys that contained concentrations of phthalates of up to 40 percent.

Children exposed to lead can suffer lowered IQ, delayed mental and physical development and even death. In 2006, a four-year-old died of lead poisoning after he swallowed a bracelet charm that contained 99 percent lead. PIRG researchers went to just a few stores and easily found three children’s toys containing high levels of lead or lead paint. One piece of jewelry was 45 percent lead by weight, or more than 750 times current CPSC action levels. 

The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act will eventually ban lead except at trace amounts in paint or coatings (90 ppm limit as of August 2009) or in any toys, jewelry or other products for use by children under 12 years old (100 ppm limit as of August 2011 after scheduled interim reductions beginning February 2009).

Hitchcock also reminded parents that the toy list in the PIRG report is only a sampling of the potential hazards on store shelves, and urged consumers to shop with a copy of PIRG’s Tips for Toy Safety, included in the report and at www.toysafety.net.

“Shoppers should remember to examine all toys carefully for hidden dangers before making a purchase this holiday season,” concluded Hitchcock.