Annual report highlights potential toy hazards

Published: Nov. 25, 2015 at 10:55 AM EST|Updated: Nov. 25, 2015 at 10:55 PM EST
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(WTVM) – The Oregon State Public Interest Research Group has conducted its annual survey of toy safety, and the results this year could surprise you.

Among the toys surveyed this year, potential choking and noise hazards were found.

The OSPIRG report not only lists the potentially dangerous toys that we found this year, but also describes why and how the toys could harm children.

The continued presence of hazards in toys highlights the need for constant vigilance on the part of government agencies and the public to ensure that children are not harmed by unsafe toys.

Standards for toy safety are enforced by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Safety standards include limits on toxic substances in children's products, size requirements for toys for small children, warning labels about choking hazards, measures to keep magnets and batteries inaccessible, and noise limits.

OSPIRG Foundation staff examined hundreds of toys to confirm that they are safe, discovering that unsafe toys remain widely available.

Some problems that were found include:

  • Chromium. Skin contact with chromium can cause severe allergic reactions including skin redness, swelling, and ulcers. Chromium compounds are known to cause cancer.
  • Phthalates. Exposure to phthalates may harm development of the male reproductive system, and is linked to early puberty.
  • Small parts are pieces that might block a child’s airway. Children, especially those under age three, can choke on small parts
  • Small balls less than 1.75 inches in diameter represent a choking hazard for children three years and younger.
  • Balloons are easily inhaled in attempts to inflate them and can become stuck in children’s throats. Balloons are responsible for more choking deaths among children than any other toy or children’s product.
  • Magnets. When two or more powerful magnets are swallowed, they can have fatal health consequences as their attractive forces draw them together inside the body, perforating intestinal walls.
  • Excessive Noise. Excessive noise exposure can lead to hearing loss. This is especially problematic for young children, because hearing loss at an early age has ramifications for speech development.
  • Lead. Even low levels of lead in blood have been shown to undermine IQ, attentiveness, and academic achievement.

Parents can also take steps to protect children from potential hazards. The OSPIRG recommend that parents:

For toys you already own:

  • Remove small batteries if there is any question over their security
  • Put small parts, or toys broken into small parts, out of reach.5

Here is the full report from the OSPIRG. Click here if you are having trouble viewing the report.

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