With the holiday shopping season around the corner, parents should be wary of the hazardous toys lurking on some of the biggest retailers’ shelves.
Toys at Target, Toys R Us, Dollar Tree and other major stores did not pass the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s guidelines, according to California Public Interest Research Group’s 24th annual “Trouble in Toyland” report. Several toys had too much lead, contained small pieces that can choke children or violated other safety rules, the report said.
CALPIRG presented its findings at the Playmates Cooperative Nursery School in the Outer Sunset district on Tuesday.
Assistant teacher Casie Carlisle said she was not surprised by the report’s conclusions because it’s her job to be aware of such hazards.
“Kids stick everything in their mouths. I see them choke all the time,” Carlisle said. “Toys break apart. It’s important that parents realize how dangerous it is, too.”
Noisy toys were also deemed unsafe based on the sound decibels they produce. For example, when a Kota and Pals Stompers Triceratops toy by Playskool roars at 90 decibels, it exceeds the maximum level by 5 decibels, according to CALPIRG. Continued use of noisy toys can result in hearing loss.
The report reveals tiny pieces are the biggest threats, and the potential danger is very real. Between 1990 and 2008, at least 196 children died after choking or asphyxiating on a toy or toy part, out of a total of 368 toy-related deaths. According to the most recent data from the CPSC, more than 82,000 children under the age of 5 went to emergency rooms in 2008 with toy-related injuries.
Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, D-San Francisco, was on hand at the CALPIRG event. Last year, she co-authored a bill requiring all manufacturers to decrease the lead content in toys to 100 parts per million by 2011; guidelines allowed 600 parts per million.
Awareness has increased immensely since the bill passed, Ma said, but some families still don’t know many toys contain lead and that it can cause neurological damage.
“One of our bigger concerns is lower-income kids going into $1 stores and then putting those things in their mouths,” she said, explaining that since a lot of toys are manufactured in foreign countries, they aren’t held to the same regulations.
You better watch out
Regulations currently do not recommend that children under the age of 3 to play with toys with small parts or parts that easily break into little pieces. Additionally, toys that contain lead with more than 300 parts per million, or exceed 85 decibels when measured from 25 centimeters away are also considered hazardous.
Toys that defy those recommendations include:
Toy name: Creative Wood Stacking Rings
Manufacturer: Zaidy products
Problem: Ball on top is smaller than 1.75 inches in diameter
Toy name: Real Wood Shape Sorter Barn
Manufacturer: P&C Enterprise
Problem: “Equal” signs may be too small
Toy name: Secret Saturdays Cryptid Claw
Problem: Measured 88 decibels
Toy name: Laugh & Learn Learning Phone
Manufacturer: Fisher Price
Problem: Measured 82 decibels; close-to-ear toys cannot exceed 65 decibels
Potentially Contains Lead
Toy name: Touch and Feel Cloth Book
Manufacturer: Priddy Books
Problem: Large red dot on a page had 1,900 ppm lead levels
Toy name: Alligator Cell Phone charm
Problem: 71 percent of it was lead by weight
* Toys that do not pass regulations can be reported at www.toysafety.mobi
Source: California Public Interest Research Group