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Trouble in Toyland: Group releases survey of dangerous toys

U.S. PIRG Education Fund issues annual report

2. Party supplies
2. Party supplies (iStock/Skip ODonnell)

ORLANDO, Fla. – U.S. PIRG Education Fund has released its annual survey of potentially dangerous toys.

The survey of 40 toys this year discovered that 15 had issues, including toys with high concentrations of unsafe chemicals and with potential choking hazards.

"With hundreds of new toys hitting the market every year, our survey of only 40 toys suggests there may be other potentially dangerous toys slipping through existing protections or worthy of further investigation," the report said. "This report not only lists the potentially dangerous toys that we found this year, but also describes why and how the toys could harm children."

The group said the potentially unsafe toys remain widely available. The problems include:

  • Boron: We found significant concentrations of boron, as high as 4700 parts per million (ppm) in popular slime toys. Due to significant evidence that that these levels of boron are hazardous upon ingestion, the European Union, United Arab Emirates, Canada and Jordan have all taken action to protect children’s health.
  • Small parts are pieces that might block a child’s airway. Children, especially those under age three, can choke on small parts. Our researchers identified toys that contain small parts, but do not have warning labels when sold online - including Hatchimals and L.O.L. Surprise toys.
  • Balloons cause more children to choke to death than any other toy or children’s product. We found that 87% of the latex balloons we surveyed on Amazon’s website lacked the legally required warning indicating that the toy presents a choking hazard for children under 8. We also found a balloon set on store shelves that has misleading warning labels that make it appear safe for children between ages 3 and 8.
  • Privacy-invasive toys: We alert parents and toy givers to so-called “connected toys” that may violate children’s privacy and other consumer protection laws. As more and more products are part of the “Internet of Things,” data collection and the sharing of consumer information become greater concerns.