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In Time For The Holidays, Report Flags Dangerous Toys

The holiday season is here and parents are out shopping for toys to give to their little ones. Just in time, a new report warns consumers about hazardous toys.

TexPIRG press conference
Erik Dolliver with TexPIRG releases the group’s 30th annual ‘Trouble in Toyland’ report at Shriners Hospital for Children. Also pictured; pediatric orthopedic surgeon Dr. Lindsay Stephenson

If you’re a parent of a small child, you may be familiar with the Go Go Smart Wheels car from Vtech.

What you may not know is that the sound from this type of toy car measured at 85 decibels next to the ear. That is about the same level as a nearby blow-dryer or a kitchen blender.

It’s one of the 22 toys the consumer advocacy group Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) Education Fund has flagged as hazardous in its 30th annual “Trouble in Toyland” report.

Abigail Didier, whose one-year old plays with these cars, had no idea.

“I never really thought about it being loud to affect him negatively,” she said, “because I didn’t really think it was as loud as a hairdryer.”  

But the report says it is when you hold it close to your ear, which kids may do.

“If your child is playing with this day in and day out for hours at a time, as children tend to do, and having it in close proximity to their ear, long-term exposure to that can result in hearing loss,” said Dr. Lindsay Stephenson, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Houston’s Shriners Hospital for Children.

PIRG also found toys with high levels of toxic chemicals.

Tests showed the “Fun Bubbles” jump rope from Dollar Tree contains 10 times the legal level of the phthalate DEHP; and the time-tested Slinky Junior toy was found to contain unsafe levels of the cancer-causing chromium.

Dangerous toys
The Public Interest Research Group found 22 toys that pose a safety risk to children.

Several toys that could pose a choking hazard also didn’t have adequate warning labels.

When asked for comment, the Toy Industry Association released the following statement:

The holiday season is always a magical time for families as they delight in new gifts and strengthen bonds through play.  Unfortunately, certain groups, like U.S. PIRG, leverage this time of year to advance their own agendas and garner headlines with their lists of alleged ‘unsafe toys.’  When examined and reviewed, year after year these lists have repeatedly shown to be full of false claims and needlessly frighten parents and caregivers. 

What families can count on is that toys sold on U.S. toy shelves are safe.  Safety is the toy industry’s top priority every day of the year.  By law, all toys sold in the United States, no matter where in the world they are made, must first meet 100+ rigorous safety tests and standards and be certified as compliant by an independent, federally approved testing lab. These U.S. safety requirements are among the strictest in the world and are in place to ensure the safety of children as they revel in the joy and benefits of play. 

For more information on toy safety and ways to ensure safe play, families can visit www.playsafe.org.”

Here’s the report:

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Florian Martin

Florian Martin

Business Reporter

Florian Martin is currently the News 88.7 business reporter. Florian’s stories can frequently be heard on other public radio stations throughout Texas and on NPR nationwide. Some of them have earned him awards from Texas AP Broadcasters, the Houston Press Club, National Association of Real Estate Editors, and Public Radio...

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