Advocacy group lists dangerous toys; Illinois Public Interest Research Group says shoppers should look out for toys that can be harmful to children

November 26, 2013 (CHICAGO)

Illinois PIRG: Trouble in Toyland Report

Shoppers hitting the stores this holiday season should look out for toys that can be harmful to children.

A consumer advocacy organization is warning that despite tougher safety standards for toys, some hazardous items still make it to store shelves.

In its annual report, Trouble in Toyland, the Illinois Public Interest Research Group identified toys that:

  • Exceed noise standards.
  • Are choking hazards.
  • Contain high levels of toxic chemicals.

"Unfortunately, some toys with lead are slipping through the cracks and toys with other toxic metals are also turning up," said Dev Gowda, Illinois Public Interest Research Group.

Toys that do not comply with safety standards were on display at Children's Hospital.

They were bought recently in a variety of stores.

Some were found to have high levels of toxic chemicals, others were too loud, and other toys contain parts that are too small for children under the age of three, posing a choking hazard, which is the leading cause of toy recalls.

"The most hazardous items are small round ones because those are the ones that can block the airway most efficiently," said Dr. Elizabeth Powell, Children's Hospital.

Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky was instrumental in getting tougher safety standards passed five years ago, but says there is still access to unsafe toys.

She encourages parents to inspect what's in the family toy chest.

"If you've got something appropriate for an 8-year-old, and you have a 2-year-old, remember they can also get a hold of that product," she said.

Attorney General Lisa Madigan urged parents to educate themselves about recalled toys.

"Unfortunately, we were able to find many items that have already been recalled that were available for sale in the internet," she said.

One easy tool you have in your home to test whether a toy poses a choking hazard is a toilet paper roll.

If the toy fits inside, health experts say that's a good indication that it could be dangerous to your child.

The Illinois Public Interest Research Group says not all toys are tested.

But better awareness means less toys have had to be recalled over the years.

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