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Children's Health

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Report Warns of Toys With Health Risks

Consumer Group Says Dangerous Toys Can Still Be Found on Store Shelves

Role of Federal Agencies

Hitchcock says the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is doing a good job “but there is still more work to be done, especially when it comes to reducing choking hazards and regulating the tens of thousands of chemicals that may be in the toys our children play with.”

Toy-related injuries sent more than 250,000 children to emergency rooms in 2009, according to the CPSC. Twelve children died in 2009 from toy-related injuries.

Congress passed The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 in August 2008. This law gives the CPSC an increase in authority and provides new testing standards for toys. Still, U.S. PIRG says in an executive summary to its 2010 report, “there are tens of thousands of toxic chemicals that are still not regulated for the many uses in our children’s lives.”

U.S. PIRG Recommendations

The U.S. PIRG issued a number of recommendations this year:

  • Congress should protect the budget of the CPSC and continue vigorous oversight of implementation and enforcement of the new law.
  • Manufacturers should be required to provide all hazard and health information to state and federal agencies so that they can better assess the safety or danger of chemicals.
  • The federal government should make sure dangerous chemicals are phased out of toys and other items intended for children.
  • Products should be labeled with names of chemicals to give parents a chance to choose toys that are less toxic.

The report identifies the following toys as potential dangers:

  • A stuffed animal monkey made by Play Pets that contained lead slightly above recommended levels.
  • The surface coating of toy plastic handcuffs sold at Toys “R” Us, which had excess antimony, many times higher than allowable.
  • The red handle of a baby book sold at Toys “R” Us containing antimony that was above the allowable limit.
  • The coating on the surface of a wild range toy gun sold at Family Dollar, which had more antimony than allowed.

U.S. PIRG says that because there is no comprehensive list of potentially hazardous toys, parents should carefully examine items before buying them.

The report also lists the following as posing dangers for kids:

  • Small parts on toys that can detach and pose choking risks.
  • Small balls, which are easy to swallow. Balls with a diameter of less than 1.75 inches are banned for kids under age 3.
  • Balloons, which cause more choking deaths than any other kids’ product.
  • Marbles. Toys with marbles must containing warning labels.
  • Drawstrings on clothing can lead to deaths or injuries because they sometimes catch on cribs, doors, or playground equipment.

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