While we strive to find the perfect gift for our children, it is important to be aware of potential hazards!
U.S. PIRG Education Fund on Monday December 1 released their 29th Annual Survey of Toy Safety, titled Trouble In Toyland 2014. The Fund’s staff examined hundreds of toys to determine their safety. What they found was that unsafe toys remain widely available, despite standards imposed by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Some of the problems they found include:
Lead. Childhood exposure to even low levels of lead can undermine development, damaging academic achievement and attentiveness. We found unsafe levels of lead in one set of play sheriff and police badges.
Chromium. Skin contact with chromium can cause severe allergic reactions including skin redness, swelling and ulcers. Chromium compounds are also known to cause cancer. This year, lab tests revealed that a tambourine marketed to children ages two and older contained chromium at nearly 10 times the legal limit.
Phthalates. Exposure to phthalates at crucial stages of development may harm development of the male reproductive system and is linked to early puberty. Lab tests confirmed that several items purchased by our shoppers contained high levels of banned phthalates. Those items include a rubber duck, plastic-covered hairclips, and a Dora the Explorer backpack.
Small parts are pieces that might block a child’s airway. Children, especially those under age three, can choke on small parts. Our shoppers purchased a set of foam blocks marketed to children two and up that contained multiple small parts that fit into a choke test cylinder. We also identified multiple toys containing near-small parts, which are pieces that almost fit into the choke tube and can be a choking hazard.
Small balls less than 1.75 inches in diameter represent a choke hazard for children three years old and younger. We found small balls that were not labeled with the appropriate choke hazard warning. We also remain concerned about other small, rounded toys, such as toy food, that present the same choke hazard as small balls but are not labeled as a hazard.
Balloons are easily inhaled in attempts to inflate them and can become stuck in children’s throats. Balloons are responsible for more choking deaths among children than any other toy or children’s product. As in past years, we continue to find balloons on store shelves marketed to children under eight.
Magnets. When two or more powerful magnets are swallowed, they can have fatal health consequences as their attractive forces draw them together inside the body, perforating intestinal walls. Our shoppers purchased small, high-powered magnets, despite their being recalled by the CPSC.
Batteries. When batteries are ingested, chemical reactions can burn through the esophagus and blood vessels, causing fatal internal bleeding. Our shoppers purchased a toy whale that contains batteries that are accessible to small children and are nearly small enough to constitute a choke hazard. The toy has been recalled in Australia because small children can easily remove the batteries.
Excessive noise. Excessive noise exposure can lead to hearing loss. This is especially problematic for young children: Hearing loss at an early age has ramifications for speech development. ” This year, our shoppers found toys that are loud, though not necessarily in violation of federal limits.”
There are steps you can take to protect your children from potential hazards. The U.S. PIRG Education Fund recommends:
Shop with U.S. PIRG Education Fund’s Toy Safety Tips, available at toysafetytips.org.
Examine toys carefully for hazards before purchase – and don’t trust that they are safe just because they are on a store shelf.
Report unsafe toys or toy-related injuries to the CPSC at www.saferproducts.gov.
Subscribe to government announcements of recalled products at www.recalls.gov
The toys on the list are presented as examples only. Other hazards may exist.