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Report Warns of Toys With Health Risks

Consumer Group Says Dangerous Toys Can Still Be Found on Store Shelves
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Nov. 24, 2010 -- Though progress has been made in recent years in making playthings for children safer, far too many toys remain on store shelves that pose serious risks to America’s kids, a consumer watchdog group says in a new report.

Some toys contain toxic chemicals and many are choking hazards, according to the report by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG).

“We’ve made a lot of progress, but dangerous toys can still be found among our children’s playthings,” says Liz Hitchcock, U.S. PIRG public health advocate and lead author of the organization’s 25th annual Trouble in Toyland report. “U.S. PIRG’s report and the resources we offer will help consumers identify and avoid the worst threats and keep their children safe this year.”

Toxic Substances in Toys

The report says many toys contain lead or other toxic substances, pointing to six toys as examples as potentially harmful due to chemicals they contain: a stuffed animal, a baby book, a tiara and jewelry set, a baby doll, plastic toy handcuffs, and a toy gun. The toys were sold at major retail and dollar stores. Among major findings in this year’s report:

  • Despite a ban on small parts in toys for kids under age 3, some toys still pose serious choking hazards, including a toy train with a wooden peg that U.S. PIRG says nearly caused the choking death of a child in the Washington, D.C. area.
  • Some toys contained phthalates, considered to be potentially harmful chemicals, including a baby doll that contained concentrations of phthalates up to 300,000 parts per million. Laboratory tests revealed toys containing potentially toxic lead and antimony, even though lead and other metals have been severely restricted in toys.

The U.S. PIRG report says lead has negative health effects on almost every organ and system in the human body, and that antimony is classified as a possible carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer and the European Union. One baby book with antimony was found to contain far more antimony than allowable limits.

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