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Beware in the toy aisle: New reports warns of toxic and unsafe toys

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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.

The warnings are part of the 28th annual “Trouble in Toyland” report, released recently by the California Public Interest Research Group.

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.

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