Trouble in Toyland: U.S. Public Interest Group’s 2008 Report on Toy Safety

We all know last year was the dreaded “year of the recall’. And we’ve made great strides since then, passing the CPSC reform act, banning phthalates and lead in children’s products.

Trouble is, this law has not gone into effect yet, and the toys are still on the shelves. There is still much work to be done, and many ways we can keep our kids safer with what we buy (or in many cases, don’t buy).

U.S. PIRG continues to fight for the environmental health of families. They recently released the new 2008 report called Trouble in Toyland. It includes guidelines for parents and a downloadable shopping guide to safer toy selection. Here’s a link to the full report as well. In the report, you’ll find pictures of toys on the shelves right now that contain lead and phthalates, chocking hazards and magnets. It’s still infuriating to me that these persist in stores where products are marketed and sold for children.

Some of the tips from the shopping guide include:

“LEAD AND TOXIC CHEMICALS
Some children’s toys and cosmetics maycontain lead or toxic chemicals, including
phthalates. While most lead and phthalateswill be phased out of toys beginning in 2009,
older toys may still contain them.

• Avoid toys made of PVC plastic whichcould contain toxic phthalates posing
developmental hazards; choose unpainted wooden or cloth toys instead.
• Read the labels of play cosmetics and avoid products with xylene,
toluene, or dibutyl phthalate.”

MORE ON LEAD
CPSC, PIRG and children’s health groups have found high levels of lead paint on toys, as well as high levels of lead in vinyl lunchboxes and bibs and in children’s or costume jewelry.

This is a valuable resource for parents making consumer choices for their kids this holiday season (and grandparents, uncles and aunts, friends, etc.). I also just posted a gift guide of responsible retailers, with safer toys mostly made in the U.S., at Non-Toxic Kids.

image: Rubber Ducks by Dan 1980 on Flickr

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