Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP
Jenny Levin, of U.S. PIRG Public Health Advocate, speaks during a news conference in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013, displaying a toy Captain America shield, right, together with others considered dangerous toys, according to U.S. PIRG’s 28th annual Trouble in Toyland report. Several toys with high lead levels or toys that could cause young children to choke were found at major retailers and discount stores in the last few months, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group said. The consumer safety group analyzed 50 toys for its annual report. Violations were found in just under a dozen, including a Captain America toy shield and play jewelry. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Eyeing that cute, soft, vinyl Marvel Captain America super-hero shield for your toddler this Christmas? Think again, warns a new report that found this shield to have 29 times the legal limit of lead. Also scratch off the list the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle pencil case - it has 150 times more than the safe exposure limit of phthalates, a chemical that makes plastic more flexible but causes long term developmental damage to children.
There is no comprehensive government-produced list of dangerous toys, so each year CALPIRG conducts a study of its own to see if popular toys might be hazardous to children. In 28 years of doing this research, CALPIRG's findings on toxic or unsafe toys has led to "over 150 recalls and other regulatory actions," according to the report.
CALPIRG examined 50 toys sold by major retailers. It conducted laboratory tests on some, screening for toxins like lead, cadmium, and phthalates – all known to be harmful to developing children. The report also measured toys to see if they were small enough to cause a choking hazard to children, or if toys were loud enough to pose a risk to children’s hearing. Researchers also looked for dangerous magnets that can cause serious injury if swallowed.
It focuses on toys for the 0-2 age group, when accidents are most likely, researchers said. They visited toy stores, dollar stores and big-box stores in malls during September, October and November 2013 to examine toys on the shelves.
They found toys with high levels of toxic substances, choking hazards, toys that are potentially harmful to children’s ears and small and powerful magnets that pose a threat to children if swallowed.
For CALPIRG's "Toy Safety Tips" go to www.ToySafetyTips.org.