Parents Beware - Many Toys Still Toxic, Hazardous

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Liz Hitchcock
Office: 202-546-9707 x316
Elizabeth@pirg.org

Parents Beware - Many Toys Still Toxic, Hazardous

U.S. PIRG Offers Tips and Interactive Tools to Help Consumers Shop Safely

WASHINGTON - Dangerous
or toxic toys can still be found on America's store shelves, the U.S.
Public Interest Research Group announced today in its 25th annual Trouble in Toyland report.

The
new report reveals the results of laboratory testing for toxic
chemicals, identifies toys that pose choking hazards, and includes tips
for avoiding common hazards when shopping.  U.S. PIRG released the
report this morning at a press conference with Consumer Product Safety
Commissioner Robert Adler and Jennifer Tapper, a Washington, DC mother
whose child nearly choked on a small part from a toy train.

"We've made a lot of progress, but dangerous toys can still be found
among our children's playthings," said U.S. PIRG Public Health Advocate
Liz Hitchcock.  "U.S. PIRG's report and the resources we offer will help
consumers identify and avoid the worst threats and keep their children
safe this year," she explained.

For 25 years, U.S. PIRG's 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 smartphones at www.toysafety.mobi.

Key findings from the report include:

  • In
    2009, many toys and other children's products containing more than 0.1%
    of phthalates were banned. Still, U.S. PIRG found such products with
    phthalates, including a baby doll that contained concentrations up to
    30%.
  • Despite
    a ban on small parts in toys for children under three, there are still
    toys available that pose serious choking hazards, including a toy train
    with a wooden peg that, while compliant with current standards, nearly
    led to the choking death of one DC area child.
  • Lead
    and other metals have been severely restricted in toys in the past two
    years, but U.S. PIRG's laboratory tests revealed toys containing toxic
    lead and antimony on store shelves. Lead has negative health effects on
    almost every organ and system in the human body, and antimony is
    classified as a human carcinogen.  Laboratory testing revealed one
    preschool book with antimony far above the limits.  U.S. PIRG has
    notified the CPSC.

U.S.
PIRG noted that progress has been made on toy safety in the past two
years thanks to a 2008 PIRG-backed law overhauling the CPSC, as well as
new leadership at the agency.

"The
CPSC is doing a good job under its expanded authority, but there is
still more work to be done, especially when it comes to reducing choking
hazards and regulating the tens of thousands of chemicals that may be
in the toys our children play with," said Hitchcock.

According
to the most recent data from the CPSC, toy-related injuries sent more
than 250,000 children - 90,000 under the age of five - to emergency
rooms in 2009. Twelve children died from toy-related injuries that year.

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

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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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