Annual Survey Confirms: Yup, There Are Dangerous Toys On Store Shelves This Season

This just an example of a toy aisle, not necessarily one with dangerous items. (C x 2)

This just an example of a toy aisle, not necessarily one with dangerous items. (C x 2)

It’s a hectic time of year — shoppers dashing through the toy aisles in stores around the country, grabbing toys as they go to appease the mighty appetites of children who absolutely must have this or that source of entertainment. But this year’s annual survey of dangerous or toxic toys shows that it also pays to be aware of what you’re buying before you bestow it upon your kid.

The U.S. Public Interest Research Group’s 28th annual Trouble in Toyland report [PDF here] found that even though there has been some important progress in toy safety, it’s still a good idea to be careful with what you buy this holiday season.

The report outlines results of laboratory testing on toys for toxic chemicals including lead, cadmium, and phthalates. Any of those can have adverse health effects on the development of children.

Then there’s the danger posed by small toys, which can choke young children, as well as extremely noisy toys which might have an impact on a child’s hearing. And of course, keep in mind that toy magnets are a very bad thing if a child swallows them.

“We should be able to trust that the toys we buy are safe. However, until that’s the case, parents need to watch out for common hazards when shopping for toys,” said Jenny Levin, U.S. PIRG Public Health Advocate.

The report found several toys with high lead levels, including a toddler toy that had 29 times the legal limit of lead, an infant play mat with high levels of the toxic metal antimony, and a child’s pencil case with high levels of phthalates and cadmium.

There’s no comprehensive list of potentially hazardous toys, the survey notes, so it’s up to parents or other adult shoppers to examine toys carefully before you buy them. US PIRG has some handy Toy Safety Tips on its site as well.

And should you stumble upon any unsafe toys or experience toy-related injuries, report them to the CPSC at http://www.cpsc.org and http://www.saferproducts.gov or call 1-800-638-2772.