Beware Of Dangerous Toys When Shopping This Holiday Season

Photo of toys and copies of the 2015 "Trouble In Toyland" report.

COLUMBIA, SC (WJBF) – Dangerous or toxic toys can still be found on store shelves, so Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital is helping parents avoid putting their children in danger this holiday season.

Doctor Jocelyn Harmon and Doctor Jeff Holloway, of Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital, say you could be putting your child in danger without even knowing it.

“It’s certainly something we see fairly frequently,” said Dr. Harmon, when talking about children choking on small toys.

Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital released the annual “Trouble in Toyland” report Thursday, to help holiday shoppers avoid buying toys that could have toxic lead, be a choking hazard, or that could be loud enough to damage your child’s hearing.

Dr. Harmon and Dr. Holloway say they’ve seen an increase in children choking on small toys, particularly during the holidays, over the years.

Dr. Harmon said, “We’ve got to think about our kid’s safety, that’s paramount.”

To determine a choking hazard, Dr. Harmon said to use a toilet paper tube to make sure the toy or pieces of the toy don’t fit inside. This determines pretty well whether the pieces could choke a child up to 3 years old, according to Dr. Harmon.

They also say check the labels to see if toys are age appropriate for your child, test it out yourself for loose parts, and just use common sense when buying it.

In 2008 lawmakers passed legislation to better protect American children from unsafe toys requiring mandatory testing, but Dr. Harmon and Dr. Holloway said some toys still fall through the cracks.

View and Download the 2015 “Trouble in Toyland” Report

Below are key findings directly from the 2015 “Trouble in Toyland” report:

  • Toys with High levels of toxic substances are still on store shelves. we had chemical testing done at a lab which is accredited by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
    • We found the Fun Bubbles jump rope from Dollar Tree which has 10 times the legal limit of the banned phthalate DEHP, and also had 190,000 ppm of the toxic phthalate DIBP which has not yet been banned. However, the CPSC has proposed a rule which has not been finalized that would add DIBP to the list of phthalates.
    • In preliminary tests, we also found high levels of the heavy metal chromium in three toys. The high content of chromium in the products we found doesn’t necessarily mean that they violate the law. We believe it is a cause for concern, and we call on the CPSC to do further testing.
    • Positively, while the CPSC has recalled some toys for lead violations this year, our tests did not find any. We believe this is a sign of progress, but this does not mean that lead cannot be found in other toys.
  • Despite a ban on small parts in toys for children under the age of three, we found toys available in stores that still pose choking hazards, We found a fairy wand from Dollar Tree that has small parts that easily break off, but was not labeled as a choking hazard.
  • We found inadequate warning labels in the Disney Pixar Cars Riplash Racers and Disney Planes from Marshalls, G2 Air Mini Football and a Disney Finding Nemo Dory figurine from Five Below, and a Nickelodeon Mermaid Dora the Explorer from Target. These products may have labels suitable for foreign countries, but they were not sufficient to meet U.S. standards.
  • Small balls pose a hazard for young children who are inclined to put objects in or near their mouths. We found Magic Towels packaged as a small baseball and a small football at Dollar Tree which did not have the appropriate small ball warning label.
  • Balloons pose the most serious choking hazard to children in the U.S. All of the balloon packages we found did include the required warning label reading that children under eight can choke on balloons and balloon parts. However, we found three balloon sets from Party City which included a second, confusing label indicating the products are for children ages three and older; the Balloon Animal Kit, Mega Value Pack 16 Latex Punch Balloons, and Mega Value Pack 12 Water Bomb Packs.
  • We also found toys that are potentially harmful to children’s hearing. We found the Vtech Go! Go! Smart Wheels, Vtech Go! Go! Smart Animals, Vtech Spin & Learn Color Flashlight, Fisher Price Click n Learn Remote, and Leap Frog Fridge Phonics Magnetic Letter Set from Target that, while they don’t violate federal standards, were found to be extremely loud at the ear and at a distance.
  • We continue to find small, powerful magnets that pose a dangerous threat to children if swallowed. We found Sizzlers noise magnets from Family Dollar, and Singing magnets from Dollar Tree that are “near-small-parts” which, while they don’t violate federal standards, are small enough to be swallowed and can cause severe internal damage.
  • For toys you already own:
    • Remove small batteries if there is any question over their security or inaccessibility and keep them out of reach of small children;
    • Remove Batteries from or tape over the speakers of toys you already own that are too loud; and
    • 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.

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