4 types of dangerous toys to watch out for this holiday season (PDF)

An image from a CalPIRG report warning of dangerous toys.
An image from a CalPIRG report warning of dangerous toys.

As mom and dad fuss over long holiday wish lists, the last thing they want to worry about is buying a dangerous toy. Anxious parents need not fear — the California Public Interest Research Group (CalPIRG) released its 27th annual “Trouble in Toyland” report Tuesday to warn consumers about potentially hazardous toys.

The Sacramento-based research group has conducted numerous studies over the past three months and has found that toy safety concerns still exist.

Isa Ballard, an organizer for CalPIRG, says that although the Consumer Product Safety Commission has done a great job keeping the toy market safe and pushing for recalls, some toys might still pose a risk for young children.

Ballard said they looked at four types of hazardous toys:

  1. Choking hazards
  2. Toxic hazards in toys, including lead and phthalate
  3. Magnetic toys
  4. Excessively loud toys

“We found examples of these dangerous toys everywhere from major national retailers to local dollar stores,” said Ballard.

CalPIRG warns that they have found safety concerns when it comes to the levels of lead, cadmium and phthalates in some toys, although the toxicity levels aren't high enough to violate federal regulations. Magnets have also raised concerns, as some are powerful enough to cause pinching and can pose serious risks if swallowed.

The advocacy group also identified choking concerns, as some toys do not properly identify small parts on their packaging. CalPIRG lists noise as another issue, as some toys produce sounds that can cause adverse symptoms in young children.

“The message here is really clear,” said Ballard. “We need to protect our littlest consumers from unsafe toys. While toys are safer than ever before, parents and caregivers still need to watch out for common hazards when shopping for toys.”

Although some of these hazards might not violate federal regulations, some of them meet disclosure requirements that aren't fully obeyed.

The non-profit, non-partisan public advocacy group warns that there is no comprehensive list of all hazardous toys. However, CalPIRG has put together a mobile website that consumers can use to help them do some more careful shopping.

Shoppers can also go to the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website  to see a list of recalled toys or to report a toy that is potentially hazardous.

“The really important thing for parents to remember is that, before purchasing a toy, you want to examine it pretty carefully for any potential hazards,” said Ballard.

Toy safety has come a long way over the years, especially since the “Year of the Recall” back in 2007.

“In 2007, children’s product recalls reached an all-time high with 231 recalls of 46 million toys and 15 million other children’s products,” the report says.

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