Parents Beware – Many Toys Still Toxic, Hazardous

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WISPIRG Foundation

WISPIRG Launches Campaign for More Protections against Choking Dangers

Madison, Nov. 23 –Dangerous or toxic toys can still be found on America’s store shelves, the Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group (WISPIRG) announced today in its 25th annual Trouble in Toyland report.  WISPIRG was joined by Michelle Reinen, Director of the Consumer Protection Division of DATCP and Nicole Vesely with Safe Kids Madison.

WISPIRG released its report, which reveals the results of laboratory testing for toxic chemicals and identifies toys that pose choking hazards, while announcing a new campaign calling on the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to better protect children from choking dangers.

“Choking on small parts is a leading cause of toy-related injury, causing fifteen deaths in the last three years,” said Bruce Speight, WISPIRG Director.  “We are concerned that the  30-year-old small parts standard is not protective enough.  Children can and have choked on parts that are larger than the standard,” he explained.

WISPIRG 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 that authority does not extend far enough when it comes to toxic chemicals,” said Speight. “We urge Congress and the Obama Administration to reform chemicals policy to address the tens of thousands of chemicals that are in the products our children come in contact with every day.”

For 24 years, the WISPIRG 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, WISPIRG found children’s products that contained concentrations of phthalates up 30%.

•    Despite a ban on small parts in toys for children under three, there are still toys available that pose serious choking hazards. In the past three years, 15 children have died after choking or asphyxiating on a toy or toy part; two died in 2009 alone.

•    Lead and other metals have been severely restricted in toys in the past two years, but WISPIRG 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 WISPIRG has notified the CPSC.

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.