Design Flaws In Toys Cause Far More Injuries Than Lead

Lead isn’t what you need to watch out for with American toys—it’s design flaws and the policies of irresponsible toy companies, says E. Marla Felcher on Slate. One study “recently found that of all the toys recalled since 1988, 76 percent involved design flaws. Kids choked, were strangled, and were burned by toy makers’ design mistakes.”

The reason so many toys were recalled this summer is not that there weren’t enough regulations. It’s that toy makers were ignoring the regulations that are already on the books. And the new testing proposal won’t stop them from continuing to do so.

Not surprisingly, the toy industry’s recent calls for third-party testing are focused entirely on lead, which is a good sign that they’re more about pre-Christmas damage control than safety. A lobbyist for the Toy Industry Association told Slate that third-party testers would start with lead and the move on to things like “small parts,” but did not mention design flaws.

There’s also speculation that the larger toy companies are using this as an opportunity to drive up production costs just enough to get rid of small, “made in America” toy companies.

Felcher supports with the idea that the CPSC should be given more power to levy much larger fines against offending companies, but cautions that unless a “consumer-friendly” chairman is appointed, things could continue as they are. (Only at least we won’t have to worry about lead, right?)

Played Out: What it would really take to make toys safer” [Slate]
(Photo: Getty)


Edit Your Comment

  1. umbriago says:

    And here I thought it was only trampolines that were maiming our children.

  2. B says:

    So it’s not China’s fault?

  3. ooolam says:

    And the war in Iraq has killed/injuried far more of our children. Which one should we “recall” first?

  4. cabedrgn says:

    @ooolam: wtf kind of a comment is that? I’m not for the war, but hell, that’s just screwed up. Might as well say that money has killed/injured far more of our children than anything (war czars, pedophiles, toy makers have all used money). Why isn’t that being recalled?

    In general, its no surprise that the large toy manufactures are using this issue to their benefit. Unfortunately I don’t see this trend changing anytime soon. A consumer friendly CPSC chairman probably won’t happen if the large businesses keep lobbying against it.

  5. AcidReign says:

        And then there are kids who misuse toys, like I did when I was little. You know, like riding the radio-flyer red wagon down a two block-long hill with a 35 degree grade. I’ll bet we were doing at least 35 M.P.H. at the bottom. And if you hit something with a front wheel of a wagon, the handle jumps out of your hand, the wagon flips forward, you hit the street face-first, and the wagon lands on your head. Yep, been there, done that. Several times, in fact. They didn’t call people “learning disabled,” back then. I was just an “idiot.”

        And then there were the pedal cars we outgrew. You could still ride them down the hill by turning them around backwards, and sitting on the hood. Those weren’t as prone to rolling over as the wagon was. We liked to make “skatie-mobiles,” too. This was old roller-skates we had outgrown, and nailed to wood scraps, typically with a rope for steering. These had a tendency to disintegrate at high speeds. The safest thing to ride down the hill on was a Big Wheel, but you had to be able to hold your feet up. And, I was just a little too big for them when they first came out. I had a tendency to either scrape my butt on the ground, or the entire big wheel would wheelie-up and I’d go over backwards.

        Sigh. I love racing downhill! I’ll bet kid vehicles they sell these days have all sorts of tiresome warnings against it.

  6. bluegus32 says:

    @ooolam: Dude, there is no way we can tolerate you turning a consumerist issue about unsafe toys into your platform against the war. Bad ooolam. BAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad.

  7. Trai_Dep says:

    I wish it to be on the formal record that Lawn Darts never injured a child because of parts breaking off or lead paint.

    Since any other mishaps were usually visited upon the neighborhood slow, fat kid, there wasn’t any great loss there, either.

  8. beyond says:

    When I was a kid and my toys broke, I fixed them. All my friends did the same. Kids these days are lazy.

  9. bbbici says:

    most kids are fat sheltered wimps these days. the only good thing is they’ll be too meek and cowardly to commit the nation to war when they’re grown up.

    on the other hand, they will be such weaklings that the starving asian hoards will easily storm our beaches.

  10. phoenixcat says:

    If you could SEE the damage lead was causing, you might have a different study on your hands. Unfortunately, we will never really understand the complete impact of this lead exposure- the effects are subtle and take time to develop. IQ deficits, learning disabilities, behavioral problems, stunted or slowed growth, impaired hearing, kidney damage and retardation are all side effects ( per National Safety Council website.)
    Why would a parent ever associate these with a toy their kids played with 5 years ago?

    I agree there are a number of unsafe toys on the market, but for those, an observant parent will notice the issue- ( wheels falling off etc.) Lead can’t be smelled or tasted…

  11. Sudonum says:

    You just described my childhood. Not to mention using lighter fluid as napalm with the toy army men.
    Haven’t seen you here in a while, good to see you back.

  12. Chicago7 says:

    That “Bag O’ Broken Glass” is NOT a safe toy!!!

  13. vdragonmpc says:

    Remember treehouses so high you would get a nosebleed getting into them? How about the ‘forts’ built from construction scrap? As bubble wrapped as kids are today Im surprised we survived the mahem of the ‘good ol days’…