Dangerous Toys Abound During Holidays
Shoppers Urged to Be Aware of Toy Recalls and Hidden Toy Dangers
WebMD News Archive
Nov. 25, 2003 -- Dangerous toys are still sitting on store
shelves and may pose serious risks to unlucky children who receive them as
The annual Trouble in Toyland report, released today by
the Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), shows that many manufacturers and
retailers continue to sell toys that have small parts but are not labeled with
the choke hazard warning as required by law. Other toys that exceed safety
standards for loudness, toxic ingredients, and strangulation hazards are also
in toy stores and increasingly available via the Internet.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) also issued a
reminder today for shoppers to be aware of recalled toys that may still be
available in stores, resale shops, garage sales, and on the web.
Each year, more than 212,000 people, including 72,000 children
under age 5, are treated in emergency rooms across the U.S. for toy-related
injuries. Thirteen children died from toy-related injuries in 2002.
"Even one toy-related death is too
many, because these deaths are preventable," says PIRG Research Director
Alison Cassady, in a news release.
Report Reveals Hidden Toy Dangers
The PIRG's report focuses on four types of
toy dangers: choking hazards, dangerously loud toys, strangulation hazards or
dangerous projectiles, and toxic chemical hazards.
Researchers found that many manufacturers
are producing and labeling toys that violate the 1994 Child Safety Protection
Act. For example:
- Choking hazards: Many toys that have small parts are not labeled
with the choke hazard warning required by law. In addition, balloons are still
being made and marketed in shapes that appeal to young children and sold in
unlabelled bins, despite the law that requires that they be labeled as unsafe
for children under 8 years old.
- Dangerously loud toys: Several toys on store shelves exceed 100
decibels when measured at close range. Prolonged exposure to sounds over 85
decibels can cause hearing damage.
- Toxic hazards: Toys can expose children to dangerous chemicals, such
as phthalates. The PIRG found toy makers are selling play cosmetic kits that
include nail polish containing toxic chemicals, like xylene and dibutyl
phthalate. Many plastic bath toys and molding clays also contain dangerously
high levels of phthalates.
- Strangulation hazards: Many countries, including the U.K., have
banned the popular yo-yo water ball because it can wrap tightly around a
child's neck or cause injury to the eyes, face, and head, but it has not been
recalled by the CPSC. Instead, the agency advised parents to supervise use of
the toy, cut the cord, or throw it away.
Shopping for Safe Toys
Experts at the PIRG and the CPSC recommend the following tips
for choosing safe and appropriate toys for the children on your gift list:
- Select toys to suit the age, abilities, skills, and interest level of the
intended child. Toys too advanced may pose safety hazards to younger
- For infants, toddlers, and all children who still mouth objects, avoid toys
with small parts, which could pose a fatal choking hazard. Never give young
children small balls or balloons.
- Look for sturdy construction on plush toys, such as tightly secured eyes,
noses, and other potential small parts.
- Avoid toys that have sharp edges and points, especially for children under
- Do not purchase electric toys with heating elements for children under age
- Check toys that make loud noises, which may damage young ears. If it seems
too loud to an adult, it's too loud for a child.
- Read the label. Look for labels on toys that give age and safety
recommendations and use that information as a guide. Check instructions for
- Be careful when purchasing toys over the Internet. Some toys sold on web
sites may be manufactured by companies that do not comply with U.S. toy
regulations. Toys sold on discount or auction sites may also have been recalled
by the CPSC as hazardous.
- If you plan to give bicycles, scooters, skateboards, or inline skates,
don't forget to include appropriate safety gear, such as helmets and pads.
After the present has been opened, immediately discard any
plastic wrappings on toys. Plastic bags and wrappings can cause