Before Buying Toys For the Holidays, Understand the Possible Hazards

Posted on November 21, 2012

With the holidays drawing near, parents with young children are likely going to be heading out to retailers in order to get their kids the latest, greatest toys.  But parents also need to understand that toy store shelves might occasionally be stacked with items not conducive to safe usage for certain age groups.  A great new report has been released by the Iowa Public Interest Research Group; in it, the organization details those hazards that ought to be avoided.  By looking at recall notices provided by the Consumer Product Safety Commission and heading out to various retailers in the past couple months, the agency was able to derive some interesting conclusions.

One of the things that the group is particularly concerned about is the presence of lead and phthalates in toys, as these can pose a danger to children who come into contact with the substances.  The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that lead in toys should not exceed 40 parts per million, but the CPSC currently places the limit at 100 ppm.  The IPIRG was able to uncover one item that violated this rule.  Six phthalates are also being more carefully scrutinized by various officials.

If you’ve been paying attention to recall announcements, then you’ve likely heard about the increasingly apparent danger posed by magnetic toy sets.  Over the course of three years, the CPSC figures that 1,700 instances of ingestion of these strong magnets have led an individual to check into an emergency room.  The IPIRG used a small cylinder to determine whether or not magnets in certain toys could be classified as small parts, and they discovered that these magnets were slightly larger so as to avoid that classification.  Therefore, they can be marketed to kids four and up rather than teens older than 14.

That leads to the group’s next point, which is that the test cylinder used to determine whether or not an item is too small should be bigger.  Toy foods, in particular, which are just a little bit bigger than they cylinder, might still pose a threat because they actually look like food to an unknowing child.  The agency also found that labels declaring a toy to have small parts tended to be either obscured or too small, and therefore parents might not be enlightened as to the danger.

The agency is also concerned about toys that might pose a danger to a child’s hearing.  They reportedly found a toy guitar and a toy car that, when activated, went above 85 decibels.  And a toy cellphone, which is specifically meant to be placed next to the ear, allegedly rose above 65 decibels.

Understand these risks before you purchase a toy.  Do whatever you can to verify the safety of an item by researching all toys and making sure that your child is responsible enough to handle whatever toy you give them.

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