The survey of hazardous toys, unveiled at Dell Children's Medical Center of Central Texas during a news conference, found that, despite recent progress, consumers must still be wary when shopping this holiday season.
The report reveals results of laboratory testing on toys for toxic chemicals, including lead, cadmium and phthalates, all of which can have serious adverse health impacts on the development of children. The survey also found small toys that pose a choking hazard; extremely loud toys that threaten children's hearing; and toy magnets that can cause serious injury if swallowed.
"The holidays fill a home with light, especially for those with children and grandchildren," said U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin. "Shining a light on dangerous toys can keep the joy in the season."
"Too often, we see kids' holiday cheer turn into fear, pain and potential tragedy in our emergency room - for them and their parents," said Dr. Eric Higginbotham, interim emergency department medical director at Dell Children's. "If a child might swallow or choke on a toy or toy part, if a child might bury it in his or her nose or ear, if a child can't be watched at all times when playing with it, the safest route is to not buy it for them in the first place."
For 28 years, the U.S.PIRG Trouble in Toyland report
has offered safety guidelines for purchasing toys for small
children and provided examples of toys currently on store
shelves that pose potential safety hazards. The group also
provides a Facebook
quiz to help educate parents and others about toy-related
"We should be able to trust that the toys we buy are safe. However, until that's the case, parents need to watch out for common hazards when shopping for toys," said Thomas Visco, TexPIRG program associate.
Key findings from the report include:
- Toys with high levels of toxic substances are still on store shelves. Several toys were found with high lead levels, including a toddler toy with 29 times the legal limit of lead (2900 parts per million or ppm), and play jewelry for children with twice the legal limit (200 ppm). Also found was an infant play mat with high levels of the toxic metal antimony and a child's pencil case with high levels of phthalates and cadmium.
- Despite a ban on small parts in toys for children under three years of age, there are toys available in stores that still pose choking hazards.
- Also available for sale are toys that are potentially harmful to children's ears and exceed the noise standards recommended by the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.
- Small powerful magnets that pose a dangerous threat to children if swallowed are on store shelves.
Over the past five years, stronger rules have helped get some of the most dangerous toys and children's products off the market. Improvements made in 2008's federal Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act tightened lead limits and phased out dangerous phthalates. However, not all toys comply with the law, and holes in the toy safety net remain.
"Our leaders and consumer watchdogs need to do more to protect America's kids from the hazards of unsafe toys. No child should ever be injured, get sick, or die from playing with a dangerous toy," said Visco. "Standards for toxic chemicals such as lead and cadmium remain too weak, and enforcement needs to be beefed up."
To download our Toy Tips or the full Trouble in Toyland report, click here.