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Playing With Danger

By Ori Twersky
WebMD Health News

Dec. 12, 2000 (Washington) -- Despite recall notices and public warnings, dangerous toys can still be found in people's homes, according to the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission.

"We can get recalled toys off store shelves," says commission chair Ann Brown, "but the more difficult task is to get recalled toys out of people's homes."

As a result, the commission is now launching a campaign to inform parents about recalled toys that might still be in people's homes. The campaign began Tuesday with the release of a list, encompassing a dozen recently recalled toys.

This "dirty dozen" represent recalled toys that are most likely to be found in children's toy chests because of their initial widespread distribution, Brown says. In total, she says, about 50 million of these toys were distributed prior to their recall, making it at least somewhat likely that kids are still playing with them.

For instance, among the toys on that list is Burger King's "Pokemon Balls," of which about 25 million were distributed between November and December 1999. Also on the list is KFC's "Tangled Treeples Toy," of which about 450,000 were distributed as part of a "kids meal" promotion in June and July.

There is no way to estimate how many of these toys may still be out there, Russ Rader, a spokesman for the commission, tells WebMD. But recalled toys are immediately removed from store shelves, eliminating the chance that parents may accidentally purchase a recalled toy once the problem is discovered, he says.

Still, this list is not meant to outline all the recalled toys that might be found in people's homes, Rader cautions. For example, there is a chance that some parents may have picked up other previously recalled toys from a thrift store, Rader points out. At times, children also may come in possession of a previously recalled toy as a "hand-me-down" from a sibling or friend, he notes.

Therefore, parents should check the commission's web site at to get a full a list, Rader says. Parents also can get a partial listing by calling the agency's toll-free hotline at 1-800-638-2772 or a full listing by sending a postcard to "Toy Recall List," CPSC, Washington, DC 20207, he tells WebMD.

The good news is that most manufacturers will either refund, replace, or repair recalled products, Brown says. But as a grandmother and mother, it is best to have a new toy to give the child when taking away a recalled one, she cautions.

While buying new toys, parents also should keep in mind that not all toys are suited for the age, abilities, or skills of the child, Brown says. To be on the safe side, Brown recommends reading the label. The label provides age ranges for each toy that can be used as a guide to ensure that the toy is suitable, she says.

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