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    Tips for Safe-Toy Shopping

    Organizations Warn of Dangerous Toys

    continued...

    Thompson said that round objects, such as small balls, are more dangerous than irregular objects. A good at-home test is the toilet-paper tube, she said. If a toy or any easily detachable part of it can fit completely within a toilet paper tube, it should not be given to a child under 3, she said. Any such parts should be removed from the toy before it is presented to the child.

    The report also took issue with the labeling on toys sold over the Internet. The PIRG surveyed 45 online retailers and found that none displayed the safety labels required to appear on toys sold in stores.

    The PIRG's report also identified issues with loud toys that have the potential to cause hearing loss. "Let's be realistic, loud toys aren't going to kill children. [But a moderate hearing loss] can be the difference between paying close attention and drifting off" in a classroom later in life, said pediatrician Ben Gitterman, MD, of the Children's National Medical Center and the Mid-Atlantic for Children's Health and the Environment, also at the news conference. Asked whether hearing loss later in life could be directly traced to loud toys, Gitterman conceded that it couldn't, but he insisted that the "precautionary principle" should be applied in case such a relationship does exist.

    And if you already have loud toys buzzing about the house? Put masking tape over the speakers, or remove the battery, said Thompson.

    Better yet, "If it seems too loud, don't buy it," said industry spokeswoman Johnston. That may be the best advice of all.

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