Trouble in toyland? Group points it out
Parents should be cautious about buying toys that have small parts, make loud noises or may contain toxins this holiday shopping season, according to the Colorado Public Interest Research Group.
The nonprofit, nonpartisan organization based in Denver hosted a news conference Tuesday at Community Hospital to publicize its 26th annual survey of children’s toys, “Trouble in Toyland.”
CoPIRG Program Associate Keelin Kelly said research performed on a variety of toys in October found 27 products had higher levels of noise or chemicals than recommended by certain agencies, or they posed a strangulation or choking hazard. The full list is available at toysafety.mobi.
Kelly said progress has been made in toys and toy-safety standards over the years, but CoPIRG still would like to see stricter rules. The Consumer Product Safety Commission sends products through a tube to make sure they are an age-appropriate size and do not pose a choking hazard, Kelly said. But she believes that tube should better mimic the size of a child’s throat and be about the diameter of a paper-towel tube.
Kelly also said Congress should change its lead-content standards from the current limit of 100 parts per million to better protect children from developmental issues that can evolve from lead poisoning.
“We’d like to see that at 40 parts per million,” she said.
“Trouble in Toyland” also focuses on toys that contain a heavy metal called cadmium and phthalates, which can be found in personal-hygiene and plastic products. Kelly said handling of these materials over time or sticking them in one’s mouth can pose health risks at certain levels.
Because the progression of health problems related to toxins takes a long time, it can be harder to track effects of certain materials in toys, Community Hospital spokeswoman Becky Jessen said. The hospital’s emergency room is much more likely to see children who have stuck an object up their nose or choked on a toy, she said.
“We see children who choke on toys, but most children choke on food, like hot dogs,” she said. “Balloons are a big choking hazard, too.”
Kelly said no one store or brand has popped up consistently in the research group’s reports. She recommends checking packages for information about choking hazards.
“With metal and plastic, though, it’s really hard for consumers to know” if the toy contains chemicals, Kelly said. “That’s why we think there should be safer standards.”