Trouble In Toyland Report Spotlights Safety Deficiencies

Posted on December 12, 2013

A couple weeks ago, the United States Public Interest Research Group Education Fund came out with the latest edition of their annual report that looks at the state of toy safety throughout the country.  For the past 28 years, the Trouble in Toyland report has been issued to help officials come up with ways to ensure the safety of products on store shelves and to help parents make a wise choice when they’re deciding what items to get their kids.  The issue carries particular import in the lead-up to the holidays.

To compile their results, the group set out to do a spot test of various retailers throughout the country to determine what types of items that could be construed as hazardous were still on store shelves.  This sampling was carried out over the past three months at malls, dollar stores, and toy stores.

The first area they sought to look at was lead contamination in toys that could reach the American consumer.  Although the Consumer Product Safety Commission requires all toys to post lead levels below 100 parts per million, the group found two items that went above this threshold.  This is even more unfortunate when you consider that the American Academy of Pediatrics thinks a safer margin would be 40 ppm.  Phthalates, another hazard for which the federal government sets limits, were also shown to be present in various toys.

Choking was another problem that the group sought to identify, and their results in this regard are somewhat eye-opening.  They were able to spot numerous instances where a toy with a potentially confusing label would not be able to pass the small parts test, as judged by placing a given item into a cylinder of a given size.

The group also worries that the small parts test isn’t sufficient given the potential propensity for choking on items that go slightly beyond what the cylinder would suggest is too small.  Therefore, these near small parts would still pose a threat.  The group is urging that the tester be made bigger so that the risk could be reduced even more dramatically.

Noisy toys also drew attention from the PIRG Education Fund, the worry being that items exceeding a certain noise level could cause serious hearing damage to the child using the product.  Although items that can be held to the ear are not supposed to go beyond 65 decibels, the group was able to identify toys that exceeded that level.

For more information about the group’s tests, including their findings about magnets, and how they think safety could be further improved, follow the link up above to view the full report.

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