The Missouri Public Interest Group has sent investigators to stores in the state to see what toys are available for sale that aren’t safe for children.
Spokesman Alec Sprague wants holiday shoppers to know there are still many toys available that pose dangers.
“The good news is that progress has been made and that there are fewer hazardous toys,” Sprague says. “It takes a little bit more to find them than in the past but it is very surprising that toys with toxic chemicals are still being found on store shelves.”
Sprague says the group found a toddler toy with 29 times the legal limit of lead in it, as well as play jewelry with twice the legal limit of lead, a play mat with high levels of the toxic metal antimony and a child’s pencil case with high levels of phthalates and cadmium.
Other toys pose choking hazards, are loud enough to damage a child’s hearing, or include what Sprague describes as a more common problem in toys, that being magnets.
“Magnets that are extremely strong being used as toys … children will swallow two of the magnets or more and they’ll connect on the inside and cause internal damage.”
He cites a statistic from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, who estimates 1,700 Americans were rushed to emergency rooms in two years for having swallowed magnets. About 70 percent of those were children.
Sprague says it doesn’t seem to matter where a toy is purchased or made, or what it costs.
“Whether you buy toys at a dollar store or at a large retail store and whether you’re buying small toys or large toys there are lots of hazards to be looking out for.”
The report’s recommendations include changes to the testing of toys for choking hazards. Sprague says some toys that meet current requirements are still potentially dangerous.
“We believe that the choke tube that the Consumer Product Safety Commission uses to determine whether a toy is a choking hazard needs to be made bigger. We found numerous near-small parts that do not violate the small part rules but children have choked on toys that are bigger than the choke tube.”
The Group says Missourians can test toys at home for choking risk to children up to age 3 by using a toilet paper tube.
“If a toy fits into an empty toilet paper roll then it’s too small for a child under 3,” Sprague tells Missourinet.