Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital, in its role to help keep children safe in the community, shared the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG) 32nd annual Trouble in Toyland Report. Unfortunately, according to the report, dangerous or toxic toys can still be found on America’s store shelves. The survey of potentially hazardous toys found that, despite recent progress, consumers must still be wary when shopping this holiday season.
The report reveals the results of laboratory testing on fidget spinners for lead, examples of toys and balloons that pose a choking hazard that have inadequate or misleading warning labels, and data collecting toys that may violate children’s privacy and other consumer protection laws. We also provide a list of toys that have been recalled over the past year.
“We should be able to trust that the toys we buy are safe, however, until that is the case, parents and toy shoppers should know that recalled toys still can be found online and may already be in children’s homes. It is illegal to sell a recalled product under Consumer Product Safety Commission rules, but the report shows that recalled toys are being sold to unsuspecting consumers online,” said Jeff Holloway, M.D., pediatrician and sports medicine physician at Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital. The Trouble in Toyland report includes a full list of recalled toys, shopping tips and recommendations for what consumers should do if they have the recalled toys in their homes.
Key findings from the report include:
Lead: U.S. PIRG found two fidget spinners which had dangerously high levels of lead, well over the federal legal limit of 100 parts per million (ppm) for lead in children’s products. The group had lead testing done at a lab accredited by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). One of the spinners is over 300 times the legal limit for lead in children’s products.
Small Parts: Despite a ban on small parts in toys for children under the age of three, U.S. PIRG found several toys that contain small parts, but do not have any warning label at all. These included a peg game, golf and football travel games.
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. U.S. PIRG found five balloon sets on store shelves that are either marketed to children under 8 or have misleading warning labels that make it appear that they are safe for children between ages 3 and 8.
Data-Collecting Toys: As more and more products are part of the “Internet of Things,” data collection and the sharing of consumer information become greater concerns. As an example, U.S. PIRG lists a doll, “My Friend Cayla,” that has been banned in Germany for privacy violations and is the subject of a complaint by several consumer groups to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission because it may violate the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. In July, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) issued a warning to consumers to “consider cyber security prior to introducing smart, interactive, internet-connected toys into their homes.”
“The continued presence of these hazards in toys highlights the need for constant vigilance by parents, grandparents and gift-givers to ensure that children do not end up playing with unsafe toys,” said Duncan Norton, M.D., a Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital pediatrician. “We also want parents and toy shoppers to look carefully at toys they may already own and toys that are in the homes of friends and family they may be visiting during the holidays.”
In a victory for consumers, the CPSC in October issued a final rule prohibiting children’s toys and child care articles containing more than 1,000 ppm of five additional phthalate chemicals (DINP, DPENP, DHEXP, DCHP and DIBP). U.S. PIRG Education Fund has been calling on the CPSC to ban these phthalates for several years and applauds the CPSC for their new rule. Phthalates are a group of chemicals used to soften and increase the flexibility of plastics like polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and certain phthalates have been linked to altered development of the male reproductive system, early puberty and cancer.
Parents and caregivers can also take steps to protect children from potential hazards. Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital recommend that parents:
- Subscribe to email recall updates from the CPSC and other U.S. government safety agencies available at www.recalls.gov
- Report unsafe toys or toy-related injuries to the CPSC at Saferproducts.gov
- Put small parts, or toys broken into small parts, out of reach. Regularly check that toys appropriate for your older children are not left within reach of children who still put things in their mouths
- Eliminate small magnet hazards from your home
- Ensure that all wheeled toys have the required safety equipment
View the full Trouble in Toyland report here, or visit www.uspirgedfund.org. Parents can find U.S. PIRG’s list of unsafe toys, as well as tips for safe toy shopping this holiday season, at toysafetytips.org.
U.S. PIRG (Public Interest Research Group) Education Fund is an independent, non-partisan group that works for consumers and the public interest. Through research, public education and outreach, we serve as counterweights to the influence of powerful special interests that threaten our health, safety, or well-being.
Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital is South Carolina’s first children’s hospital and has more than 150,000 children’s visits each year. It offers more than 30 subspecialties to meet the unique health care needs of children and has central South Carolina’s only Children’s Emergency Center. With more than 350 professionals who work exclusively with children, Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital has a team of highly skilled and trained experts unmatched by any hospital in the Midlands. Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital is the place to go for children’s medical care, because the best care matters.