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Oops! Return to Santa ASAP!

TexPIRG warns parents to remain wary of certain products

By Michael King, Fri., Dec. 27, 2013

Oops! Return to Santa ASAP!
Photo courtesy of Texas Public Interest Research Group

You may still be stuffing your recycling container with wrapping paper, and have holiday gifts spread out all over the house. Neverthe­less, you may want to make certain that all of the toys piled up for the infants and toddlers are what the doctor ordered – or more precisely, not what the doctor warned might bring more risk than delight.

Last month, the Texas Public Interest Research Group issued its annual "Trouble in Toyland" report, announcing that "dangerous or toxic toys can still be found" on store shelves. In a press conference at Dell Child­ren's Medical Center, TexPIRG warned parents to remain wary of certain products aimed at children. "The report reveals results of laboratory testing on toys for toxic chemicals ... all of which can have serious adverse health impacts. ... The survey also found small toys that pose a choking hazard; extremely loud toys that threaten children's hearing; and toy magnets that can cause serious injury if swallowed."

"Too often, we see kids' holiday cheer turn into fear, pain, and potential tragedy in our emergency room – for them and their parents," said Dr. Eric Higginbotham, interim emergency department medical director at Dell Children's. "We should be able to trust that the toys we buy are safe," added Thomas Visco, TexPIRG program associate. "However, until that's the case, parents need to watch out for common hazards when shopping for toys." Key findings from the report include:

Toys with high levels of toxic substances are still on store shelves, including toys with high lead levels, high levels of the toxic metal antimony, and a child's pencil case with high levels of phthalates and cadmium.

Despite a ban on small parts in toys for children under 3 years of age, there are toys available in stores that still pose choking hazards.

Also available for sale are toys – including "play phones" – that are potentially harmful to children's ears and exceed recommended noise standards.

Small, powerful magnets pose a dangerous threat to children if swallowed.

The full report, including a description of the research, and of toy safety standards that are too lax or often go unenforced, plus lists of specific toys to be avoided or closely monitored for children, is available at www.texpirg.org/reports.

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