From Our 2011 Archives
Consumer Group: Dangerous Toys Are on Store Shelves
U.S. Public Interest Research Group Says Some Toys Have Choking Hazards and Other Risks
By Bill Hendrick
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD
Latest Healthy Kids News
Nov. 22, 2011 -- Though toy makers have made major safety strides in recent years, many hazardous toys can still be found on store shelves or online, a consumer watchdog group says in a new report.
Toys with small parts are choking hazards, and some toys contain toxic chemicals, including lead, according to the report, "Trouble in Toyland," by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG).
According to the report, many toys are too loud and could lead to hearing damage. Others may pose choking risks, including balloons, which cause more choking deaths than any other product for kids.
The organization did not rank toys in terms of degree of danger, but listed nine as potentially toxic for containing lead or chemicals called phthalates:
PIRG listed 12 toys or types of toys as posing choking hazards:
The report warned that various balloons, especially those promoting infant birthdays and iconic toddler characters, posed danger for kids under age 8.
As for toys that pose noise hazards, PIRG listed three toys:
Toy Industry Comments
In anticipation of this year's PIRG list, the Toy Industry Association issued a statement on Nov. 14 warning that some groups frequently attack toys as unsafe, unhealthy, or dangerous but that such claims often are "unsubstantiated" and "needlessly frighten parents."
But PIRG officials, and Robert Adler, commissioner of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, say the new report was the result of laboratory testing and a survey.
"Choking on small parts, small balls and balloons is still the leading cause of toy-related injury," PIRG's Nasima Hossain says in a news release. He notes that more than 400 children died of toy-related injuries between 1990 and 2010, and that more than half of the fatalities were due to choking on small parts, balloons or balls.
"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 says.
The report lists its key findings as:
Hossain notes in the news release 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," Hossain says. "The message of today is clear. We cannot, must not, weaken the most basic safety rules that protect young children, America's littlest consumers."
The full report can be found at uspirg.org.
SOURCES: News release, U.S. PIRG.Trouble in Toyland, 26th Annual Survey of Toy Safety, November 2011, U.S. PIRG Education Fun.News release, Toy Industry Association, Nov. 14, 2011.