In their 28th annual survey, the U.S. Public Research Group (U.S. PIRG) sends a number of children’s playthings directly to the Island of Misfit Toys. The report, "Trouble in Toyland," says that parents tasked with shopping for holiday toys should be on the lookout for a number of potential hazards.
Toys are great when they serve to entertain and educate children, "but poorly designed and constructed toys can cause injury and even death," the report notes. While they don’t provide a specific list, the following toys are highlighted in the report, which reminds shoppers to "examine toys carefully for potential dangers before you make a purchase."
Among the toys that received shout-outs were some made by big name manufacturers Hasbro and Mattel; as well, the toys were purchased from well-known retail giants including Walmart, Kmart, Toys R Us and Babies R Us.
The following Littlest Pet Shop items were cited for choking hazards and lacking required labeling; the toys were purchased at Walmart and Kmart.
1. Littlest Pet Shop Candyswirl Dreams (Collection #3313)
2. Littlest Pet Shop Candyswirl Dreams (Collection #3317)
3. Littlest Pet Shop Seal and Dolphins
4. Littlest Pet Shop Sunil Nevla
5. Littlest Pet Shop Horse (Collection #2744)
Hasbro responded in a statement: "The entire Littlest Pet Shop line is age graded for children 4 years and older. The Littlest Pet Shop figures do not pose a choking hazard as regulations for small parts apply to products for under 3 years of age."
6. Just Like Home Super Play Food Set
This fake food play set purchased from Toy R Us has small pieces that pass the “small parts” test, but not the “small ball” test. The report warns that toy food poses a special hazard because it looks as if it should be eaten.
7. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles pencil case
This item made by Innovative Design and sold at Toys R Us contains toxic cadmium and phthalates, which both pose chronic health hazards to children when handled or put to the mouth, the reports notes.
8. Captain America Soft Shield
According to the group, the current federal legal lead standard is 100 parts per million (ppm) while the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a lead limit of 40 ppm. The Captain America Soft Shield violates the lead standard of 100 ppm by 29 times, with a level of 2900 ppm.
9. Sonic Sound Sizzlers Noise Magnets
Made by JA-RU Inc., these high-powered magnets can cause abdominal problems if swallowed, especially if they stick together in the stomach. (See Accidental ingestion of magnets is growing risk for kids for more information.)
10. Fisher Price Laugh & Learn Remote
The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders says that prolonged exposure to noises above 85 decibels will cause gradual hearing loss to people of all ages. Toys meant to be held close to the ear should not exceed 65 decibels. Mattel's Fisher Price Laugh & Learn Remote tested at 85+ decibels.
And while these warning should be taken seriously, there is a dissenting opinion courtesy of the toy industry's top trade group, says USA Today. "While the report alleges some products are not safe, any toy sold in the U.S. must comply with U.S. safety standards," said Joan Lawrence, vice president for safety standards at the Toy Industry Association. She says U.S. PIRG "misrepresented" toy standards and tested the toys at labs not accredited by the federal government.
Related stories on MNN:
- Toy safety: Were these toys ever a good idea?
- 5 worst toys of the year
- 7 things you should make, not buy: Toys
- Eco-friendly toys for toddlers