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Consumer Group: Dangerous Toys Are on Store Shelves

U.S. Public Interest Research Group Says Some Toys Have Choking Hazards and Other Risks

Toy Industry Comments

In anticipation of this year's PIRG list, the Toy Industry Association issued a statement on Nov. 14 warning that some groups frequently attack toys as unsafe, unhealthy, or dangerous but that such claims often are "unsubstantiated" and "needlessly frighten parents."

But PIRG officials, and Robert Adler, commissioner of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, say the new report was the result of laboratory testing and a survey.

"Choking on small parts, small balls and balloons is still the leading cause of toy-related injury," PIRG's Nasima Hossain says in a news release. He notes that more than 400 children died of toy-related injuries between 1990 and 2010, and that more than half of the fatalities were due to choking on small parts, balloons or balls.

"While most toys are safe, our researchers still found toys on the shelves that pose choking hazards and other toys that contain hazardous levels of toxic chemicals, including lead," she says.

The report lists its key findings as:

  • Toys with high levels of toxic substances are still on store shelves -- up to 70 times the allowable limits of phthalates, a chemical that may pose developmental risks for small children.
  • Despite Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) standards concerning small parts in toys for children under 3, PIRG reports it found toys on shelves that still pose choking hazards.
  • Also, one toy was found that exceeded the hearing standards recommended by the National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders.

Hossain notes in the news release that the CPSC has a new database of both potential hazards and recalled products at saferproducts.gov.

"Parents and toy givers need to remember that while the CPSC is doing a good job, it doesn't test all toys on the shelves," Hossain says. "The message of today is clear. We cannot, must not, weaken the most basic safety rules that protect young children, America's littlest consumers."

The full report can be found at uspirg.org.

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