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Holiday Shoppers: Beware of Toxic Toys

An annual report released by the California Public Interest Research Group finds a number of dangerous and toxic toys on store shelves, including some that exceed legal limits for toxicity.

Dangerous and toxic toys are on store shelves awaiting holiday shoppers, according to a report released this weekend that warned consumers to choose gifts carefully.

"Trouble in Toyland,'' an annual report compiled by the California Public Interest Research Group, revealed the results of laboratory testing on toys for lead and phthalates, both of which have been proven to have serious adverse health impacts on the development of young children. The survey also cites toys that pose choking and noise hazards.

"Choking on small parts, small balls and balloons is still a leading cause of toy-related injury,'' said Austin Price, CALPIRG's health care associate. "While most toys are safe, our researchers still found toys on the shelves that pose choking hazards and other toys that contain hazardous levels of toxic chemicals, including lead.''

The report offers safety guidelines for buying toys, and examples of those that pose potential safety hazards.

According to the report, several toys -- including a Tinkerbell watch, a Hello Kitty key chain filled with eye shadow and a toy-sized Honda motorcycle -- exceed limits recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, and two -- a book by Piggy Toes Press called ``Little Hands Love Books'' and a colorful light-up toy called a "Whirly Wheel'' -- have levels in excess of legal limits.

A sleep mask by popular "tween'' store Claire's has more than 70 times the allowable limit for phthalates, the report found.

Other toys exceed noise standards recommended by the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. The report lists the Elmo's World Talking Cell Phone, labeled for 18-month-old children, and the Hot Wheels Super Stunt Rat Bomb car, for 3 years old and up, as toys that could damage a child's hearing.

In 2008, Congress limited allowable concentrations of lead and phthalates in toys and children's articles and gave more regulatory authority to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The CPSC has a database of hazards and recalled products at saferproducts.gov.

"Parents and toy givers need to remember that while the CPSC is doing a good job, it doesn't test all toys on the shelves,'' Price said. "Consumers should also keep in mind that other toys that are not on our list of examples could also pose hazards. The message of this report is clear. We must not weaken the most basic safety rules that protect young children, America's littlest consumers.''

An interactive website with tips for safe toy shopping that can be accessed from a smartphone can be found at www.toysafety.mobi. The full report can be downloaded at www.calpirg.org.

--City News Service

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