News Release

Parents Beware - Many Toys Still Toxic and Hazardous

MASSPIRG Offers Tips and Interactive Tools to Help Consumers Shop Safely
For Immediate Release

 Boston-–Dangerous or toxic toys can still be found on America’s store shelves, MASSPIRG announced today in its 25th annual Trouble in Toyland report.

The latest Trouble in Toyland report, along with an interactive website accessible via smart phone – http://toysafety.mobi - will help parents and other toy-buyers avoid some common hazards.  

For 25 years, the MASSPIRG 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. This year, the report focuses on toys that may pose choking hazards, and toys that contain the toxic chemicals lead and phthalates.  

“We’ve made a lot of progress, but there are still hazardous toys on our shelves,” said MASSPIRG Consumer Associate Micaela Preskill.  “Now parents can shop safely and avoid purchasing potentially dangerous toys for their kids.”

The findings in this year’s Trouble in Toyland highlight the need for continued improvement in order to protect America’s children:

•    In 2009, many toys and other children’s products containing more than 0.1% of phthalates were banned. Still, MASSPIRG found children’s products, including a baby doll that contained concentrations of phthalates 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 a DC-area toddler.

•    Lead and other metals were severely restricted in toys in the past two years, but MASSPIRG 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 MASSPIRG has notified the CPSC.

MASSPIRG 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. “We hope we can continue to see this kind of progress in protecting kids from all toy hazards” said MASSPIRG Staff Attorney Lizzi Weyant.

“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 eliminating choking hazards and regulating the tens of thousands of chemicals that are in the toys our children play with every day,” said Preskill.

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

“The real tragedy is that many of these injuries and deaths are completely preventable.  Every shift I work in the Emergency Department at Children’s Hospital Boston I see preventable injuries” said Dr. Lois Lee, Pediatric Emergency Specialist

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.

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