U.S. PIRG Trouble in Toyland 2012: Don’t give dangerous toys this holiday season

As consumers, we assume that the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is doing their job testing products and ensuring our children’s safety.  Unfortunately, the task is larger than the organization can handle, and toxic, dangerous toys, mostly manufactured cheaply in foreign countries, riddle the store shelves.  As parents and grandparents hunt for bargains, unbeknownst to them they are exposing their children to toxic heavy metals like lead and cadmium, choking hazards, such as magnets, and toxic plastic chemicals like phthalates.

For the 27th year, U.S. PIRG has released Trouble in Toyland.

Key findings from the report include:

  • Toys with high levels of toxic substances are still on store shelves. We found toys which contained phthalates, as well as toys with lead content above the 100 parts per million limit.
  • Despite a ban on small parts in toys for children under three, we found toys available in stores that still pose choking hazards.
  • We also found toys that are potentially harmful to children’s ears and exceed the noise standards recommended by the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.
  • We discovered small powerful magnets that pose a dangerous threat to children if swallowed.

Unfortunately, not much has changed since we first reported on Trouble in Toyland in 2008. Phthalates and lead are still of grave concern.

US PIRG makes the following recommendations:

Recommendations for Policy Makers

  • Policymakers must ensure that the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is given the resources it needs to effectively protect consumers.
  • Policymakers must also continue vigorous oversight of implementation and enforcement of the new law.
  • Policymakers should require manufacturers to provide all hazard and health-impact information to the state and federal government so agencies can begin to assess the thousands of chemicals currently on the market for which little or inadequate data are available.
  • There is overwhelming evidence showing that the Toxic Substances Control Act is failing our most vulnerable consumers: pregnant women, babies and children. Policymakers should take steps to ensure that the American people are better protected from toxins in products.
  • Policymakers should reject well-funded special interest efforts to weaken the ability of regulatory agencies to conduct rulemakings or enforce rules designed to protect public health and safety.

For the Consumer Product Safety Commission 

    • The CPSC should review and, where necessary, expand its definition of a “small part” or “small toy” to include parts and toys that are larger than the current standard, but have been shown to pose a choking hazard to children.
    • The CPSC should re-start its canceled rulemakings to regulate cadmium limits in children’s jewelry.
    • The CPSC should continue to proceed with rulemaking to regulate hazardous magnets in toys.
    • The CPSC should vigorously enforce lead and phthalate limits in toys. The CPSC should also move to using the lead standard of 40 ppm recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
    • The CPSC must ensure that new third-party testing programs meet CPSIA standards. As the CPSC continues to implement its new publicly accessible toy and other product incident database at www.saferproducts.gov, it must ensure that it provides the information consumers need to make informed choices in the marketplace.

The statement that bothers me the most is:

There is overwhelming evidence showing that the Toxic Substances Control Act is failing our most vulnerable consumers: pregnant women, babies and children.

When will our littlest ones become a priority in this country?

The green toys we have reviewed on this site is a great resource finding safe toys this holiday season.

Image:  Kid Playing with Cars on Bigstock

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