Now that the holidays are over and the wrapping paper has been tossed and the batteries bought, those new shiny toys are being used quite a bit by happy kids all over Indiana and Illinois and all the rest of the good old U.S.A.
Problem is: profit happy toy companies still sell toys that can serious injure children all for the sake of making a buck. And, as a recent article in the Los Angeles Times reports, it’s usually only after innocent little ones have been hurt that we hear about another dangerous or deadly toy that has been manufactured, distributed, and sold in this country. To read the entire Los Angeles Times article, check out “Parents, you are top regulator when it comes to toy safety.”
The news story has it partly right. Parents are the first line of defense when there is a dangerous toy. However, toy safety must be a concern at any day care, elementary school, or child-friendly pizza joint where toys and kids coexist.
If your child is injured by a toy, then not only are the toy makers responsible, but the seller as well as the place where the child came into contact with that toy may be legally responsible as well (including schools, restaurants, doctors’ offices, playgrounds, etc.).
The Child Safety Protection Act was passed in 2005 to help protect kids from harm. You can read its online fact sheet here. This is federal law that holds manufacturers, etc. responsible for toy safety. Product liabilty laws in both Indiana and Illinois also exist to protect kids who have been hurt by a toy.
26th Annual Trouble in Toyland Study Released for 2011
Every year for many years now, a non-profit organization — USPIRG — has released its annual study of dangerous toys and toy safety. This year, “Trouble in Toyland” reported that there are still dangers present in the American marketplace for children and their toys. Included in their concerns:
Lead Continues to be a Hazard in Toys
Exposure to lead can affect almost every organ and system in the human body, especially the central nervous system. Lead is especially harmful to the brains of young children and has no business in children’s products. This year our investigators found 2 toys whose lead levels exceeded the current 300ppm standard set by the CPSIA and one additional toy that exceeded its prospective 100ppm standard; we found 4 additional toys that exceeded the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation that lead levels in toys should not exceed 40ppm.
Phthalates in Toys
Numerous studies have documented the potential negative health effects of exposure to phthalates in the womb or in child development. U.S. EPA studies show the cumulative impact of different phthalates leads to an exponential increase in harms including premature delivery and reproductive defects. The CPSIA permanently banned toys containing three phthalates and set temporary limits on three others, while tests continue. No toy or childcare article can contain more than 1000ppm of each of the six phthalates.
This year, we found two toys that laboratory testing showed to contain 42,000 ppm and 77,000 ppm levels of phthalates. These products exceed limits allowed by the CPSIA by 42 and 77 times, respectively.
Choking on small toy parts, on small balls, on marbles and balloons continues to be the major cause of toy-related deaths and injuries. Between 1990 and 2010, over 200 children died from a choking incident.
This year we found several toys that violated CPSC’s small parts for toys standard intended for children less than 3 years old. We also found “near small part” toys that – while not in violation of current regulations — support our call for the small parts test to be made less permissive. Finally, we found toys intended for older children that failed to provide choking hazards warnings required for small parts or small balls.
Research has shown a third of Americans with hearing loss can attribute it in part to noise. The third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey showed one in five U.S. children will have some degree of hearing loss by the time they reach age 12; this may be in part due to many children using toys and other children’s products that emit loud sounds such as music players. The National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders advises that prolonged exposure to noise above 85 decibels will cause gradual hearing loss in any age range. We found 1 toy on store shelves that exceeded the recommended continuous exposure to 85-decibel limit and 2 close-to-the-ear toys that exceeded the 65 decibel limit when measured with a digital sound level meter.