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Group Warns of Dangerous Toys

The Pennsylvania Public Interest Group (PennPIRG) says that lead and choking hazards continue to be among the most prevalent problems when it comes to unsafe toys. The group released its annual "Trouble in Toyland" report just in time for the official start of the holiday shopping season on Friday.

The group stresses that, despite reforms to what is allowed in manufactured toys, there are still plenty of hazardous toys on stores' shelves.

"This year, our investigators found two toys whose lead levels exceeded the current 300ppm standard set by the CPSIA, and one additional toy that exceeded its prospective 100ppm standard. We found four additional toys that exceeded the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation that lead levels in toys should not exceed 40ppm," said Program Associate Alana Miller. One of those high-lead toys was a book intended for toddlers.

PennPIRG also warned against purchasing toys that contain phthalates, a chemical found in plastic that makes it flexible. Though studies of the substance are inconclusive, Miller said that it is better to be safe and stay away from potentially hazardous substances.

Fighting The Same Fight

Every year, toys that present choking hazards make the list, and this year is no different. "Choking on small toy parts, on small balls, on marbles and balloons continues to be the major cause of toy-related deaths and injuries. Between 1990 and 2010, over 200 children died from a choking incident," said Miller.

Many parents are surprised to learn that noisy toys also make the list. PennPIRG's report notes that research has shown a third of Americans with hearing loss can attribute it in part to noise. "We found one toy on store shelves that exceeded the recommended continuous exposure to 85-decibel limit, and two close-to-the-ear toys that exceeded the 65-decibel limit when measured with a digital sound level meter," said Miller.

PennPIRG has made several recommendations to the Consumer Product Safety Commission and other policy makers. Among them is more funding for the regulating agencies, better reporting laws for manufacturers, and lower parts per million (ppm) standards for lead and phthalates.

PennPIRG has made a press release and the full report [PDF] available on their website. You can also see a list of the toys that PennPIRG has issued warnings for in a separate PDF.