Parents Beware - Many Toys Still Toxic, Hazardous

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Elizabeth Hitchcock
Public Health Advocate
U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG)
Office: 202-546-9707
elizabeth@pirg.org

Parents Beware - Many Toys Still Toxic, Hazardous

New Mobile Toy Tool Can Help Parents Shop Safe

WASHINGTON - Dangerous or toxic toys can still be found on America's
store shelves, the U.S. Public Interest
Research Group
announced on Tuesday in its 24th annual Trouble
in Toyland
report.

The
latest Trouble in Toyland report, along with a new interactive tool
accessible via smart phone or computer - http://toysafety.mobi or http://www.toysafety.net - will help parents and
other consumers avoid some common hazards.

And
if toy buyers discover they have bought a dangerous toy, they can report it to U.S. PIRG using the new interactive
website. Consumers should also report dangerous products to the Consumer
Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

"Now
parents can shop safely and avoid purchasing potentially dangerous toys for
their kids," said U.S. PIRG Public Health Advocate Liz Hitchcock.

"With
our new, interactive tool, parents and other consumers can report toys they
think are hazardous so we can investigate them and report them to the federal
government," Hitchcock added.

Hitchcock
released the new report at a Capitol Hill press conference where she and
Consumer Product Safety Commissioner Robert Adler ran through some of the
progress made, and the steps that still need to be taken, when it comes to
keeping America's kids safe.

U.S.
PIRG's Hitchcock noted that progress has been made on toy safety in the
past year, thanks to the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) and
new leadership at the CPSC.

"But
there's no magic wand to fix the CPSC, and making products safer
won't happen overnight," said Hitchcock. "Restoring consumer
confidence in the products we buy will take continued hard work on the part of
the CPSC and responsible retailers and manufacturers."

The
2009 Trouble in Toyland report - and the interactive website
accessible from mobile phone or computer - focus on three categories of
toy hazards: toys that may pose choking hazards, toys that are excessively
loud, and toys that contain the toxic chemicals lead and phthalates.

The findings in
this report highlight the need for continued improvement in order to protect
American's children:

  • Despite a ban on small parts in toys for children under
    three, PIRG researchers found toys that pose serious choking hazards. U.S.
    PIRG's analysis of CPSC recalls and other actions in 2009 showed
    that these hazards were the cause of more than 5 million products being
    recalled from store shelves.  Between 1990 and 2008, at least 196 children
    died after choking or asphyxiating on a toy or toy part; three died in
    2008 alone.
  • Some toys tested exceeded 85 decibels sound level, which
    is the volume threshold established under American Society for Testing and
    Materials standards. Almost 15 percent of children aged 6 to 17 show signs
    of hearing loss.
  • Effective February 2009, toys and other children's
    products containing more than 0.1% of phthalates were banned. Still, PIRG
    researchers found children's products that contained concentrations
    of phthalates up to 7.2%.
  • Lead has negative health effects on almost every organ
    and system in the human body. In August 2009, the allowable level of lead
    in the paint on a children's product was reduced to 90 ppm, and the
    allowable level of lead in a children's product was reduced to
    300ppm.  The CPSC has announced recalls and other regulatory actions
    involving nearly 1.3 million toys and other children's product in
    2009 for violations of the lead paint standard. PIRG researchers
    found three children's toys or jewelry containing high levels of
    lead or lead paint.  U.S. PIRG notified the CPSC in October of one
    preschool book that contained lead paint at 1900 ppm, or more than 20
    times the allowable maximum of 90 ppm.

"We're
encouraged that Toys R Us stopped the sale of this particular book after we
notified the CPSC of the lead paint violation," noted Hitchcock.
"We hope we can continue to see this kind of progress in protecting kids
from all toy hazards."

According to the
most recent data from the CPSC, toy-related injuries sent more than 82,000
children under the age of five to emergency rooms in 2008. Nineteen children
died from toy-related injuries that year.

That's why
U.S. PIRG - the federation of State Public Interest Research Groups
- developed a new interactive tool - http://toysafety.mobi
or http://www.toysafety.net - that
allows shoppers to check on possible hazards as they shop, as well as report
hazards they find.

U.S. PIRG called for the following:

  • CPSC should continue to vigorously enforce the
    CPSIA's strong protections against toxic lead and phthalates in
    children's products.
  • Congress and the Administration should work to overhaul
    U.S. toxics policy to begin to assess the thousands of other chemicals
    currently on the market for which inadequate health data are available,
    and to require manufacturers to ensure that they are using the least
    hazardous chemicals possible.
  • Congress should fully fund the CPSC's increased
    budget authorizations for the next five fiscal years, and conduct vigorous
    oversight over the implementation of the new law.

To download a pdf
version of Trouble in Toyland, click
here
.

###

U.S. PIRG, the federation of state Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs), stands up to powerful special interests on behalf of the American public, working to win concrete results for our health and our well-being. With a strong network of researchers, advocates, organizers and students in state capitols across the country, we take on the special interests on issues, such as product safety,political corruption, prescription drugs and voting rights,where these interests stand in the way of reform and progress.

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