Dangerous or toxic toys can still be found on America’s store shelves, according to a Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group’s (WISPIRG) 26th annual Trouble in Toyland report.
This morning WISPIRG, joined by Children’s Health Education Center’s Katie Horrigan, 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 WISPIRG’s Bruce Speight.
“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,” he explained.
For 26 years, the WISPIRG 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 www.toysafety.mobi.
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 articles in a law that also gave greater authority and funding to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
Speight noted that the CPSC has a new database of both potential hazards and recalled products at saferproducts.gov.
“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,” Speight concluded.
“Our new Toy Tips explains the most common toy hazards and our mobile app.”
“An average of 168,000 children age 14 and younger are treated in emergency departments for toy-related injuries each year,” said Jane Howard, outreach supervisor, Children’s Health Education Center. “Prevention is key to keeping our kids safe.
“Actively supervise children when they are playing with riding toys and any toy that has small balls and small parts, magnets, electrical or battery power, cords, wheels or any other potential hazard.”
Howard said active supervision means keeping the child in sight and in reach while paying undivided attention.
Play is even more valuable when adults become involved and interact with children rather than supervising from a distance.