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Auburn Reporter

Survey Finds Toxic Dangerous Toys on Store Shelves

Mobile Website Can Help Parents

Dangerous or toxic toys can still be found on America's store shelves, according to WashPIRG's 26th annual Trouble in Toyland report.

This morning Arianna Koudounas of WashPIRG, joined by Gloria Hodge, director of Little Eagles Child Development Center and Dr. Catherine Karr, director of the University of Washington Pediatric Environmental Health Speciality Unit, released the report. It reveals the results of laboratory testing on toys for lead and phthalates, both of which have been proven to have serious adverse health impacts on the development of young children. The survey also found toys that pose either choking or noise hazards.

"Choking on small parts, small balls and balloons is still a leading cause of toy-related injury. Between 1990 and 2010 over 200 children have died," Koudounas said.

"While most toys are safe, our researchers still found toys on the shelves that pose choking hazards and other toys that contain hazardous levels of toxic chemicals including lead," she explained.

For 26 years, the WashPIRG Trouble in Toyland report has offered safety guidelines for purchasing toys for small children and provided examples of toys currently on store shelves that pose potential safety hazards.

The group also provides an interactive website with tips for safe toy shopping that consumers can access on their smart phones at

Key findings from the report include:

• Toys with high levels of toxic substances are still on store shelves. Two toys contain levels of phthalates – a chemical that poses development hazards for small children – at 40 and 70 times allowable limits. Several toys violate current allowable lead limits (300ppm). Lead has negative health effects on almost every organ and system in the human body.

• Despite a ban on small parts in toys for children under three, the report found toys available in stores that still pose choking hazards.

• It also found toys that are potentially harmful to children's ears and exceed the hearing standards recommended by the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.

"We have the benefit of a strong science base demonstrating that there is no 'safe' or threshold level of exposure that is OK for kids. Therefore, removing children's exposure to lead from toys (and all other sources) makes sense in the overall promotion of good health and brain development for children," Dr. Karr said.

Hodge added: "Appropriate toys can contribute to cognitive and developmental growth with children. However, it is important for children to have safe play with caring adults and opportunities for early promotion of art, literacy, music and sports."

In 2008, Congress placed strict limits on concentrations of lead and phthalates in toys and children articles in a law that also gave greater authority and funding to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Koudounas noted that the CPSC has a new database of both potential hazards and recalled products at

"Parents and toy givers need to remember that while the CPSC is doing a good job, it doesn't test all toys on the shelves. Consumers should also remember that toys that are not on our list of examples could also pose hazards," Koudounas concluded. "Our new Toy Tips explains the most common toy hazards and our mobile app."