New Report Offers List Of Potentially Hazardous Toys

A non-profit consumer group recently released a report warning parents to check for hazardous toys. The report is based on tests of more than 200 toys purchased at toy, drug, and dollar stores.

Highlights of the 30th annual "Trouble in Toyland" report from the non-profit group called U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund (PIRG) include toys with high levels of hazardous chemicals, toys with magnets or small parts that may be harmful if swallowed, and toys that are so loud they can damage a child's hearing.

Choking Hazard Toys
Public health advocate Jenny Levin drops a Littlest Pet Shop-Candyswirl Dreams Collection toy, which can cause a choking hazard if swallowed by a child. [Photo courtesy of Alex Wong/Getty Images.]The report reveals the results of laboratory tests performed on toys that were found to contain toxic chemicals, including chromium and phthalates. Both of these chemicals can have serious, adverse health effects on a child's development. The research also found examples of toys that have powerful toy magnets that can cause serious injury if swallowed.

In a press release, Mike Litt, a consumer advocate with U.S. PIRG, shared the group's concern.

"We should be able to trust that the toys we buy are safe. However, until that's the case, toy buyers need to watch out for common hazards when shopping for toys."
For 30 years, the U.S. PIRG "Trouble in Toyland" report has provided safety guidelines for purchasing toys for a child. The group has also supplied examples of toys currently sold in stores that pose potential safety hazards. For years, the U.S. PIRG reports have led to over 150 recalls and other enforcement actions.

According to PIRG, toys with high levels of toxic substances are still on store shelves. They had chemical testing done on toys at a lab, which is accredited by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

The results of the test found the Fun Bubbles jump rope from Dollar Tree had 10 times the legal limit of the banned phthalate DEHP, in addition to the toxic phthalate DIBP, which has not yet been banned. However, the CPSC has proposed a rule -- though not finalized -- that would add DIBP to the list of banned phthalates.

In preliminary laboratory tests, the group found three hazardous toys that exceed federal limits with levels of the heavy metal chromium—which can cause allergic reactions and cancer. A fourth toy had high levels of chemicals suspected to interfere with the function of the body's natural hormones.

Additionally, Minions Locking Pencil Box, a toy sold at Target, had chromium levels 11 times higher than the limit for toys. Slinky Jr., another potentially hazardous toy, had chromium levels more than 23 times higher than the limit.

Magnetic numbers, a toy sold at Dollar Tree, was found to have chromium levels more than 6 times over the limit. And Fun Bubbles Jump Rope had levels of a hormone-disrupting chemical called DEHP that were 10 times higher than the legal limit.

In addition, despite a ban on small parts in toys for children under the age of three, toys available in stores were found to pose choking hazards. For example, a fairy wand from Dollar Tree has small parts that easily break off, but it was not labeled as a choking hazard.

They also found inadequate warning labels in the Disney Pixar Cars Riplash Racers and Disney Planes, G2 Air Mini Football, a Disney Finding Nemo Dory figurine, and a Nickelodeon Mermaid Dora the Explorer. These products may have labels suitable for foreign countries, but they were not sufficient to meet U.S. standards.

Small balls pose a hazard for young children who are inclined to put objects in or near their mouths. Magic Towels packaged as a small baseball and a small football were found to be missing labels, though they should have had an appropriate small ball-warning label.

U.S. PIRG also found toys that are potentially harmful to a child's hearing, including Vtech Go! Go! Smart Wheels, Vtech Go! Go! Smart Animals, Vtech Spin & Learn Color Flashlight, Fisher Price Click n Learn Remote, and Leap Frog Fridge Phonics Magnetic Letter Set. They found these toys to be extremely loud at the ear, as well as at a distance.

Small, powerful magnets that pose a dangerous threat to children if swallowed were found, as well. Sizzlers noise magnets from Family Dollar and Singing magnets from Dollar Tree have "near-small-parts" which are small enough to be swallowed and can cause severe internal damage.

Toy Safety
Public Health Advocate Jenny Levin holds up a pack of Sonic Sound Sizzlers Noise Magnets, a potentially hazardous magnet toy. [Photo courtesy of Alex Wong/Getty Images.]Mike Litt added that more protection is necessary with respect to hazardous toys.
"Our leaders and consumer watchdogs need to do more to protect our youngest consumers from the hazards of unsafe toys – no child should ever be injured, get sick, or die from playing with a dangerous toy. Also, the CPSC should finalize its rule to include other toxic phthalates like DIBP on its list of banned phthalates."
The full report and list of dangerous and hazardous toys includes tips for safe toy shopping this holiday season.

[Photo courtesy of Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images]