Consumers beware: survey finds dangerous toys on store shelves

Shopping for toys this holiday season? Parents and gift-givers beware, the Public Interest Research Group in Michigan today announced dangerous toys can still be found at retailers nationwide.

The good news, according to PIRGIM's 27th annual "Trouble in Toyland" report, fewer dangerous toys were found this past year.

PIRGIM's report reveals the results of laboratory testing on toys for lead, cadmium and phthalates. All of these toxins have been proven to have serious adverse health impacts on the development of young children. The survey also found small toys that pose a choking hazard; extremely loud toys that threaten hearing and toy magnets that can cause serious injury.

"We should be able to trust that the toys we buy are safe. However, until that's the case, parents need to watch out for common hazards when shopping for toys," says Meghan Hess, PIRGIM public interest advocate.

The "Trouble in Toyland" report includes a list of dangerous toys that surveyors found on toy store shelves. It also offers safety guidelines for purchasing toys for small children. The group also provides an interactive website consumers can access on their smartphones and computers at www.toysafety.mobi.

"It's the unseen dangers that trouble me, lead and phthalates," explains Donna Bucciarelli, R.N., trauma prevention coordinator, Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak; and education program manager, Safety City U.S.A., a Beaumont Children's Hospital program. "Thanks to the ongoing efforts of PIRGIM, parents and gift-givers can purchase safer, less toxic toys."

Key findings from the "Trouble in Toyland" report:

  • Toys with high levels of toxic substances can still be found on store shelves. PIRGIM found toys that 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, PIRGIM found toys that still pose choking hazards.
  • PIRGIM also found toys that are potentially harmful to children's ears and exceed the noise standards recommended by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.
  • PIRGIM also discovered small powerful magnets that pose a dangerous threat to children if swallowed.

Hess concluded, "The message of today is clear. Parents have to stay vigilant when shopping for children's toys."