Report finds toxins, choking hazards in some toys

A Dora backpack is among two dozen toys named as potential hazards for children in the latest edition of the annual "Trouble in Toyland" report.

By Mary Kuhlman

A rubber duck, a shopping cart playset and a tambourine are among the toys on store shelves that contain potential hazards, according to the 29th annual Trouble In Toyland report from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG).

Pam Clough, campaign organizer with PIRG, says more than 150 toys have either been recalled or taken off store shelves as a result of the annual report.

"It's great to see progress is being made," she says, "but it's evident there are dangerous toys on the shelves."

Among the 24 toys on the list, Clough says her organization uncovered four main hazards.

"Toxic hazards in toys, choking hazards, magnetic toys and excessively noisy toys," she says.

Clough says the findings highlight the need for consumers to be proactive and "do their research" before buying, and examine items that have already been purchased for possible dangers.

According to Clough, toxic chemicals found in toys can have adverse health impacts on a child's development, and include lead, chromium, and phthalates.

"We found toys that contained phthalates well over the legal limits," she says. "A Dora backpack was 20 percent phthalates, which is ridiculous."

Clough says with the passage of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, toy safety standards have improved in recent years. Among the improvements is a ban that goes into effect next year on small magnetic sets that pose a dangerous threat to children if swallowed.

"The magnets have the power to bind through tissue, so that can disrupt the digestive system," she says. "It can actually lead to severe injury that has been seen in pediatric emergency hospitals."

The Toy Industry Association claims PIRG's past toy reports were based on improper testing methods that are not approved by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.


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