Unsafe Toys Still on Store Shelves
Consumer Group Says Most Toys Are Safe, but Dangerous Products Are Still Sold
Nov. 22, 2005 -- Despite industry improvements, dangerous toys still abound
on store shelves this holiday season, warns an annual report released Tuesday
by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group.
The group is alerting parents of young children to be on the lookout for
toys whose small parts could pose a choking hazard. Federal regulation bans
small parts in toys intended for kids under 3 and requires labels for those
targeted to children 3 to 6. But dozens of toys remain on the market that are
not properly labeled, the group says.
Approximately half of all choking deaths in children are blamed on balloons,
which can easily travel down the throat to cut off breathing. At least 68
children have died by aspirating balloons since 1990, U.S. PIRG says.
But the group says its researchers still found balloons marketed to very
young children with characters including Thomas the Tank Engine and Winnie the
U.S. PIRG research director Alison Cassady told reporters that toy makers
have improved their safety practices in the 20 years that her group has been
"Most toys on store shelves are safe and fun for kids," she
That still doesn't apply to some toys, according to the group. Many plastic
toys now come labeled "phthalates free" because of increasing concern
that the chemicals, used to soften plastic in toys and pacifiers, could pose a
The report showed that six of eight toys labeled as "phthalates
free" still contained at least one form of the chemicals. One labeled
product, "Baby's First Peek-a-Boo Book", made by Sassy, tested positive
for four different phthalates.
"Instead of helping parents, these labels are deceiving parents,"
Gary Klein, a spokesman for the Toy Industry Association, denied that
phthalates have been shown to be dangerous in the levels present in children's
"It's very easy to scare parents by mentioning children and toxic
chemicals in the same breath," he says.
Klein called the alleged mislabeling of phthalates-containing toys "a
problem." "We don't endorse the mislabeling of a product," he tells
Safety advocates on Tuesday repeated a years-old warning about yo-yo water
balls. Kids swing the heavy ball on the end of a rubber string and in dozens of
incidents have wound up wrapping the string around their own necks.
The toys remain legal in the U.S. despite bans in the U.K. and Canada. In
June, Illinois became the first state to ban yo-yo water balls from store
The report also included information regarding other hazards such as loud
toys that pose the risk for hearing loss and injuries from motorized and
nonmotorized riding toys.