Consumer advocacy group singles out dangerous toys
Parents, beware of slime.
The U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund, a national consumer advocacy group, released its annual “Trouble in Toyland” report Tuesday, warning that a number of toys — including the popular product slime — can be harmful to children. At least two manufacturers disputed the findings.
Michael Samuelson, campaign associate with PIRG’s Pennsylvania chapter, was joined by Pittsburgh City Councilwoman Erika Strassburger and Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner in announcing the report’s findings in a council conference room.
Samuelson said slime contains “dangerous levels” of the chemical boron, which can cause nausea, vomiting and long term-reproductive health issues if eaten.
“In recent years, slime has become an increasingly popular toy,” he said. “Unfortunately, our testing has found that several popular slimes … contain dangerously high levels and toxic levels of borax, which is a form of boron, and up to 15 times the limit that the European Union has determined is safe for use.”
The United States has no limit for boron in products. Samuelson said the European Union has a limit of 300 parts per million and that PIRG is calling for warning labels on slime packaging and an investigation to determine whether the United States should set limits.
PIRG said it tested six varieties of slime that contained dangerous levels of boron, including Kangaroo’s Original Super Cool Slime, which had concentrations as high as 4,700 parts per million.
The Tribune-Review reached out to all six companies, but only Kangaroo Manufacturing based in Tempe, Ariz., could be reached.
“Kangaroo Manufacturing is stating that all of our products are tested and meet U.S. standards,” a spokeswoman said.
Samuelson said PIRG has privacy concerns about so-called “smart toys” that use the internet and phone applications to interact with children, including California-based Wonder Workshop’s Dashboard robot.
“Unfortunately, many of these toys collect data on children and share consumer information that can potentially violate a child’s privacy,” he said. “Last year, the FBI issued a stark warning that these features put the privacy and safety of children at risk due to the large amount of personal information that may be unwittingly exposed.”
Wonder Workshop CEO Vikas Gupta told CNN that information about Dash is categorically false.
“That is absolutely incorrect,” Gupta told CNN. “We don’t collect any personal identifiable information from children, and we do not share any information from the apps or the software or robots to any third-party ever. None of that happens.”
PIRG also singled out toys as choking hazards — particularly balloons — and those that it said could damage hearing by making excessive noise.
“The last thing I want to be thinking about as a new parent is whether there are toxic chemicals in my child’s toy or whether a new gift that someone has given me has some hidden unknown choking hazard,” said Strassburger, an expectant mother. “Parents shouldn’t have to be detectives when it comes to keeping their children safe from their toys.”
Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bob at 412-765-2312, email@example.com or via Twitter @bobbauder.