Toys safer than ever, but parents urged to remain vigilant
By The Associated Press
Published: Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012, 4:50 p.m.
WASHINGTON — Toys are safer than ever before, consumer advocates say, but parents should remain vigilant in keeping their little ones away from powerful magnets and small items that can easily cause choking.
“The main trend that we saw this year was that we didn't find as many toxic toys as we thought we would,” said Nasima Hossain, a public health advocate for Public Interest Research Group.
PIRG examined more than 200 toys on store shelves at major retailers and dollar stores and tested about three dozen toys for lead and chemicals called phthalates, which are used to make plastic products softer but have been linked to reproductive defects and other health problems. A 2008 product safety law ushered in new standards for children's products, including strict limits on lead and phthalates allowed in toys.
Of the toys tested, only one — a Morphobot action figure — turned up lead levels that exceeded the stricter federal limit on how much metal can be in the toy. For phthalates, the toys all met the federal standard for what's allowed, though a Dora the Explorer backpack had levels that would trigger disclosure under Washington state and California law, the report said.
Small toys that could choke children and loud toys that could lead to hearing loss were concerns of this year's report.
A Dora the Explorer guitar and a set of colorful toy car keys for infants were cited for being excessively loud. Play food sets of everything from little strawberries to miniature sausage, as well as small dragster cars that had tiny rubber traction bands on the wheels that could come loose, all were listed as small enough to cause a child to choke.
The group highlighted renewed concerns about magnets, especially high-powered magnets in executive desktop toys for adults and a finger-play magnet toy for kids called Snake Eggs that PIRG found at a dollar store.
PIRG cited government estimates of 1,700 emergency room visits between 2009 and 2011 involving the ingestion of high-powered magnets. Most cases involved children between 4 and 12 years old. Older children have accidentally ingested the balls while trying to mimic tongue piercings. The magnets, such as the ones in the popular Buckyball desktop toys, can cling together if swallowed, pinch internal tissue and lead to serious injuries.
Stacy Leistner of the Toy Industry Association said his group agrees that strong magnets are a risk for children and should not be available to them. The Consumer Product Safety Commission this summer sued New York-based Maxfield and Oberton, the maker of Buckyball desktop toys, to stop their sale. The finger-fidget toys are designed for adults, but CPSC said it was hearing of many injuries involving children.
Maxfield has maintained that the toys are for adults, marketed to adults and carry clear warning labels — but it announced last month that it would stop making the Buckyball series. CPSC is considering a ban on high-powered magnet sets.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Garden Q&A: Firecracker vine OK for trellis?
- Matt Calvert’s goal in double OT evens series for Blue Jackets
- Second-period short-handed goal gives Blue Jackets momentum
- One dead, one wounded in shooting at Chartiers party
- Blue Jackets score a franchise first with playoff victory
- Pair of Braun homers spells defeat for Pirates
- Penguins’ Gibbons scores twice but leaves with apparent injury
- Trib prospect: Aliquippa’s Patrick Anderson
- Unbeaten Arizona outlasts Power, 73-69
- Penguins say playoff series against Columbus could fuel rivalry
- Pope Francis inspires incredible optimism