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2011 PIRG Trouble in Toyland Report

Survey Finds Toxic or Dangerous Toys on Store Shelves

Shopping Tips, and Mobile Website Can Help Parents Shop Safely

Washington DC, Nov. 22, 2011 Dangerous or toxic toys can still be found on America's store shelves, according to U.S. Public Interest Research Group's 26th annual Trouble in Toyland report.

This morning U.S.PIRG, joined by Commissioner Robert Adler from the Consumer Product Safety Commission and Ivan Frishberg, a parent, released the report. It reveals the results of laboratory testing on toys for lead and phthalates, both of which have been proven to have serious adverse health impacts on the development of young children. The survey also found toys that pose either choking or noise hazards.

"Choking on small parts, small balls and balloons is still the leading cause of toy-related injury. Between 1990 and 2010 over 400 children died from toy-related injuries, but more than half choked on small parts, balloons or balls," said U.S.PIRG's Nasima Hossain. "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 explained.

For 26 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 an interactive website with tips for safe toy shopping that consumers can access on their smart phones at www.toysafety.mobi.

Key findings from the report include:

  • Toys with high levels of toxic substances are still on store shelves. Two toys contain levels of phthalates a chemical that poses development hazards for small children -- at 40 and 70 times allowable limits. Several toys violate current allowable lead limits (300ppm). Lead has negative health effects on almost every organ and system in the human body.

  • Despite a ban on small parts in toys for children under three, we found toys available in stores that still pose choking hazards.

  • We also found toys that are potentially harmful to children's ears and exceed the hearing standards recommended by the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.

In 2008, Congress placed strict limits on concentrations of lead and phthalates in toys and children articles in a law that also gave greater authority and funding to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Nasima Hossain noted that the CPSC has a new database of both potential hazards and recalled products at www.saferproducts.gov.

"Parents can shop and children can play with confidence this holiday season," said CPSC Commissioner Robert Adler. "But, we need to continue to have all hands on deck when it comes to promoting product safety, including consumers and industry, in addition to the CPSC."

"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. Consumers should also remember that toys that are not on our list of examples could also pose hazards," Nasima Hossain concluded. "The message of today is clear. We cannot, must not, weaken the most basic safety rules that protect young children, America's littlest consumers."

To download a PDF version of Toy Tips or Trouble in Toyland, click here.

U.S. Public Interest Research Group takes on powerful interests on behalf of its members, working to win concrete results for our health and our well-being.

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