News Release: Annual VPIRG Survey Finds Dangerous Toys on Store Shelves

For immediate release: Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Montpelier, VT – Three days before Black Friday, VPIRG released its 28th annual Trouble in Toyland report to give Vermont parents the information they need to avoid purchasing one of the dangerous, toxic toys still found on store shelves. Despite recent progress, the results of the survey of hazardous toys means consumers must still be wary, and this guide can help shoppers this holiday season.

The report reveals toys available in stores in Vermont and nationwide which were found to contain toxic chemicals including lead, cadmium, antimony and phthalates – all of which can have serious adverse health impacts on the development of children. The survey also identifies small toys that pose a choking hazard, extremely loud toys that threaten children’s hearing, and toy magnets that can cause serious injury if swallowed.

“We should be able to trust that the toys we buy are safe. Unfortunately, shoppers still need to watch out for common hazards when toy shopping this holiday season,” said Lauren Hierl, environmental health advocate at VPIRG. “Even worse, some of these threats are invisible – especially toxic chemicals. That’s why VPIRG is working with Vermont officials to implement better, simpler chemical safety protections.”

Key findings from the report include:

  •  Toys with high levels of toxic substances are still on store shelves. We found several toys with high lead levels including a toddler toy with 29 times the legal limit of lead (2900 ppm), and play jewelry for children with twice the legal limit. We also found a child’s pencil case with high levels of phthalates and cadmium.
  • Despite a ban on small parts in toys for children under three, we found toys available in stores that still pose choking hazards.
  • We also found toys that are potentially harmful to children’s ears and exceed the noise standards recommended by the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.
  • We discovered small powerful magnets that pose a dangerous threat to children if swallowed.

Over the past five years, stronger rules at the Vermont and federal levels have helped get some of the most dangerous toys and children’s products off the market. However, not all toys comply with the law, and holes in the toy safety net remain.

“Our leaders need to do more to protect America’s kids from the hazards of unsafe toys – no child should ever be injured, get sick, or die from playing with a dangerous toy,” said Hierl.  “The good news is that Vermont can act. We can put tried-and-true chemical safety protections into place that will keep our little ones safer. Parenting is tough enough—we shouldn’t have to also worry that unsafe chemicals in toys are harming our kids this holiday season.”

Over the last 28 years, 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—and led to more than 150 recalls and other actions to get dangerous toys off store shelves.

To take our toy safety quiz to learn more about safe shopping, visit:

Click here to download the full Trouble in Toyland report.


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