But there are still some dangerous toys for sale, and consumers may not know it.
Baltimore, Md (KM) The holiday period is a big time for toys, but consumers are still advised to do their research before buying toys for the children on their gift lists.
Maryland PIRG has released the annual “Trouble in Toyland” report. It gives a lot of credit to many manufacturers for working to make their products safe. But there are a few concerns, including counterfeit or knockoff toys, which look like the originals, but often do not undergo the same rigorous safety testing. . “A lot of knockout toys don’t have age warnings, whereas the original toys are marked as five plus because they contain a choking hazard for younger children,” says Rishi Shah, Foundation Advocate for Maryland PIRG.
He also says some of these toys could contain toxic materials. “We don’t what the levels of dangerous chemicals in these toys are,” says Shah. “There’s potential for these toys to contain levels of lead and other toxic chemicals that could do harm to children.”
“Trouble in Toyland” also points to a problem with second-hand toys, some of which may have been recalled. “We have found, especially on EBay, listings for recalled toys that don’t mention the recall, nor denote the toy’s been fixed so its safe and legal to resell,:” says Shah.
Anyone who wants to find out if a toy has been recalled can go on line to saferproducts.gov, which lists all recalled toy products.
Maryland PIRG says unsafe toys are less likely to be found at traditional retailers which stock toys from importers and manufacturers that have Children’s Product Safety Certificates. When shopping on websites for toys, those individuals selling these products do not consider themselves traditional retailers and are not subject to following the same rules as other merchants.
Each year, Maryland PIRG says there are also toys which are on the market which are choking hazards for children. “Toys meant for children ages two or younger can’t include any small parts. And toys for children age three to six have to have a warning label if they have those small parts,” says Shah.
There is a way to determine if a toy could be a choking hazard for small children. “Take any old toilet paper roll–the cardboard tube in the middle,” Shah says. “If they can get through that, we know that it’s too small for children.”
Other dangers include noisy toys, which could damage a child’s hearing. If you have one, Shah says “to either place some tape or paper under the speaker to muffle the noise a little bit, or the take out the battery for those sorts of toys.”
Another toy danger are smart toys which could endanger a child’s privacy. They usually have cameras, and recording devices built into the product. They also have unsecured mobile apps which are used to control toys and personalized online accounts that can store data specifically about the toy and its user. “Not every smart toy is bad, “says Shah. “We really are cautious of any risk to a child’s privacy of safety.”
To read “Trouble in Toyland,:” visit marylandpirg.org.
By Kevin McManus