Parents beware–many toys still toxic, hazardous

December 8, 2010

From press release

Dangerous or toxic toys can still be found on America’s store shelves, Illinois PIRG announced in its 25th annual Trouble in Toyland report.

Illinois PIRG released its report, which reveals the results of laboratory testing for toxic chemicals and identifies toys that pose choking hazards, Nov. 23, while announcing a new campaign calling on the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to better protect children from choking dangers.

“Choking on small parts is a leading cause of toy-related injury, causing 15 deaths in the last three years,” said Celeste Meiffren, Illinois PIRG field director. “We are concerned that the 30-year-old small parts standard is not protective enough. Children can and have choked on parts that are larger than the standard.”

Meiffren 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 as good job under its expanded authority, but that authority does not extend far enough when it comes to toxic chemicals,” said Meiffren. “We urge Congress and the Obama administration to reform chemicals policy to address the tens of thousands of chemicals that are in the products our children come in contact with every day.”

About Illinois PIRG

For 24 years, the Illinois PIRG’s Trouble in Toyland report has offered safety guidelines for purchasing toys for small children and provides 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 toysafety.mobji.

Key findings from the report include:

→ In 2009, many toys and other children’s products containing more than 0.1 percent of phthalates were banned.  Still, Illinois PIRG found children’s products that contained concentrations of phthalates up 30 percent.

→ Despite a ban on small parts in toys for children younger than 3, there are still toys available that pose serious choking hazards. In the past three years, 15 children have died after choking or asphyxiating on a toy or toy part; two died in 2009 alone.

→ Lead and other metals have been severely restricted in toys in the past two years, but Illinois PIRG researchers found 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, and Illinois PIRG has notified the CPSC.

According to the most recent data from the CPSC, toy-related injuries sent more than 250,000 children—90,000 under the age of 5—to emergency rooms in 2009. Twelve children died from toy-related injuries that year.

From the Dec. 8-14, 2010 issue

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