Lead, choking hazard and noisy toys are put under the spotlight by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group

US: Trouble in Toyland 2013 report on dangerous toys revealed

The 2013 Trouble in Toyland report has been published by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG).

The 28th annual report provides safety guidelines for consumers when purchasing toys for small children and provides examples of toys currently on store shelves that may pose potential safety hazards.

The PIRG visited numerous national toy stores, shopping centres and dollar stores in September, October, and November 2013 to identify potentially dangerous toys.

A key finding from the report is that lead continues to be a hazard in toys.

"Exposure to lead can affect almost every organ and system in the human body, especially the central nervous system," said the PIRG.

"Lead is especially toxic to the brains of young children and can cause permanent mental and developmental impairments; it has no business being in children’s products.

"The current federal legal lead standard is 100 parts per million (ppm), though the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a lead limit of 40 ppm. We found two toys that violate the CPSC’s lead standard of 100 ppm. Most notably, the Captain America Soft Shield, for ages two and up, was found to contain 29 times the standard (2900 ppm) for lead."

Elsewhere, the Group found toxic chemicals including phthalates, antimony, and cadmium in some toys.

‘The Ninja Turtles Pencil Case was found to contain 150,000 ppm of one of six phthalates banned from toys, as well as excessive levels (600 ppm) of the toxic metal cadmium’ continued the report.

The report also found that choking hazards continued to be a major cause of death and injury, with some toys containing small parts bearing ‘improper labels’.

The Group has also clamped down on noisy toys following the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey showed that one in five US children will have some degree of hearing loss by the time they reach age 12.

The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders advises that prolonged exposure to noise above 85 decibels will cause gradual hearing loss in any age range. Toys that are intended to be held close to the ear are not to exceed 65 decibels. Toys that held within close range (in a lap or on a table) are not to exceed 85 decibels.

The PIRG said: "We found toys on store shelves that exceeded the limit of 65 decibels for toys held close to the ear. The Chat & Count Smart Phone, for example, produces sound measuring higher than 85 decibels when measured at 2.5 centimeters, and children may hold such toys pressed up against the ear."

You can read the complete report here or take a look at a US news report on the findings below:

BTHA Statement

A report was published yesterday in the USA by a group called the US P.I.R.G. called ‘Trouble in Toytown’.

The report refers to a survey where it alleges ‘dangerous or toxic toys can still be found on America’s shelves’ and goes on to highlight some of the findings of the survey.

One national newspaper in the U.K. has published this story (online) from the U.S.about the report today with comments made in the U.S. from the equivalent of the British Toy and Hobby Association in the U.K., the T.I.A.

Amongst the comments from the T.I.A. in this story, it is reported as including the point that P.I.R.G. did not use a testing laboratory accredited by the federal agency in the U.S. that oversees toy safety – the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Indeed P.I.R.G have apparently acknowledged that the lab it used was not CPSC approved.

In another US newspaper (again online) it is reported that the T.IA. claim the P.I.R.G. did not represent the standards to be used fairly.

The tests were done in the U.S. and the T.I.A. have made comments. Such reports are taken seriously and are produced from time to time, but of course any report needs to be assessed for accuracy and credibility.

At this point, the BTHA is not in a position to add further comment on the detail or the basis of the report but is seeking further information from the U.S, where the tests took place.

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