Holiday Toy Safety: 25 Years of Trouble in Toyland

Photo:  Attribution Some rights reserved by Elizabeth/Table4Five25 Years of Trouble in Toyland

25 Years of Trouble in Toyland

With the holiday shopping season about to begin in earnest, and all of the over-consumerism it represents, we are once again cautioned by the US Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) that many toys are not safe.

Trouble in Toyland: The 25th Annual Survey of Toy Safety has just been released.

In researching the report, we visited numerous national chain toy stores and other retailers in September and October 2010 to identify potentially dangerous toys. We analyzed CPSC notices of recalls and other regulatory actions to identify trends in toy safety. This year, we focused our investigation on hazards from toys and other children’s products that contain the toxic chemicals lead and phthalates, and other metals restricted by the CPSIA.

Because choking continues to be the leading cause of death related to toys, we have also identified toys that may pose a choking hazard to children.

The key findings of the report are:

  • LEAD IN TOYS
  • Lead has no business in children’s products, whether in paint or coatings or in metal toys, jewelry or other children’s products (vinyl bibs, lunchboxes, etc). The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act bans lead except at trace amounts in paint or coatings (90 ppm limit as of August 2009), and in any toys, jewelry or other products for use by children under 12 years (300 ppm limit as of August 2009, and 100ppm by August 2011).

  • PHTHALATES IN CHILDREN’S PRODUCTS
  • Section 108 of the CPSIA bans toys containing three classes of phthalates for all children, and bans toys containing three or more phthalates if they can be put in younger children’s mouths. This provision went into effect in February 2009.

  • CHOKING HAZARDS
  • Our analysis of recalls and other actions taken by the CPSC from October 1, 2009- October 30, 2010 revealed that choking hazards were the leading cause of such actions. In the past year, 5.8 million toys and other children’s products have been recalled in the U.S and Canada due to choking hazards.

Obviously missing from the key findings are BPA and cadmium in children’s products.   I don’t believe their omission is part of some American Chemical Industry lobby conspiracy.  Cadmium is mentioned under “Other Toxic Hazards” in the full report.  Cadmium seems to be the chemical du jour in replacing lead in cheap, children’s jewelry.

I did not find any mention of bisphenol-A in my skimming of the report..  BPA’s absence is concerning.

Comments

  1. Please tell me that the Santa sleigh toys in the photo aren’t on a bad list! My 3 year old loves Christmas and he has mostly wooden toys, but I got this for him and he loves it! Agh!!

    • Jennifer Lance says:

      I don’t know. There is not an official list, other than what has been recalled by CPSC, but the PIRG report offers a shopping guide for things to look out for when purchasing toys.

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