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Many toys not safe for children


MADISON, Wis (WSAU) -- Shopping for that perfect toy is not easy. A study from the Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group, known as WISPERG, says some toys should be avoided because they can be dangerous to children.

WISPERG’s Bruce Speight says there are different types of hazards that adults need to protect children from. Toxic metals like lead, antimony, and cadmium were found again this year in new toys. He says “Standards for toxic chemicals remain too weak, and enforcement needs to be beefed up.”

This year’s study focused on four of common hazards. “Toxic hazards, choking hazards, magnetic toys, and excessively noisy toys. Unfortunately, we’re finding all of these hazards on the shelves.”

There are toy safety standards in place, but Speight says there’s room for improvement. “In 2008 when we had a number of recalls, millions of toys were recalled with lead in paint. We did get some stronger standards for lead and phthalates, which is the toxic chemical used to soften PVC plastic, and some other standards were strengthened, but we still have work to do.”

Speight says choking hazards continue to be one of the most common hazards and one of the biggest sources of toy related injuries. “The standards for small parts and for balls haven’t changed for decades. We really need to update that because there are toys on the shelf that meet the letter of the law, but still pose a choking hazard.”

There are 30 toys on their list of dangerous toys this year, but Speight says they are making progress. There are fewer recalls, and the work of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act passed after the massive 2008 toy recalls is helping to keep dangerous products off the market. He says toys must now be tested before they’re sold. Still, he says one toy related death or injury is too many, and we have to remain vigilant and work to prevent injuries before they can occur.

Batteries can also be dangerous. Speight says small batteries can be a choking hazard.

Loud toys can be too loud. Speight says children often put noisy toys right next to their ears, and that can cause problems. He says one in five kids has hearing damage by the age of 12. Speight says parents should put the toy near their ears, and if it’s too loud for them, it’s too loud for the children, too.

The Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group’s “Trouble in Toyland” report is available online

(Our interview with Bruce Speight can be heard on our website, here.)