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Baltimore, MD – Toys that have been recalled for high levels of lead, dangerously powerful magnets, or other hazards can still be found in some online stores, according to the Maryland Public Interest Research Group Education Fund’s 31st annual Trouble in Toyland report www.toysafetytips.org. The survey of hazardous toys found that shoppers should be wary this holiday season.
The report lists toys recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) from January 2015 to October 2016 with the message to consumers that these recalled toys may still be in homes. While car owners can receive recall alerts in letters sent to their home addresses found through VIN numbers, that’s usually not the case for toys.
Hazards to children include chemical exposure to substances like lead and cadmium; choking risks through small parts that are not fully secured to the toy; and overheating or over-inflating toy parts.
“We should be able to trust that the toys we buy are safe. In the absence of strong state and federal regulations, it’s up to companies to develop safe standards against toxic chemical exposure. In the meantime, we as consumers should do our homework on the toys we buy and be on the lookout for recalled products,” said Juliana Bilowich, Maryland PIRG Public Health Organizer.
Maryland PIRG released the annual report with the University of Maryland Medical Center/University of Maryland Children’s Hospital (UMCH) and Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh. Also on-hand was a UMCH Child Life Specialist, who provided guidelines for donating toys for hospitalized children.
“We’ve come a long way in regards to the safety of toys, but there is always room for improvement,” said Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh. “Consumers should learn the guidelines for buying toys that are safe and appropriate for a child’s age, and stay informed of recalls.”
“Today we have that rare, annual opportunity to raise the conscious of everyone in our state about the safety of children’s health when it comes toys,” said Steven Czinn, MD, Chair, Department of Pediatrics, University of Maryland School of Medicine, and Physician in Chief of the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital. “It is important for everyone to note that injury, illness, and even death associated with unsafe toys is preventable.”
For over 30 years, the Maryland PIRG Trouble in Toyland report has offered safety guidelines for purchasing toys for small children. Over the years, our reports have led to more than 150 recalls and other enforcement actions.
Adnan Bhutta, MBBS, Division Head, Pediatric Critical Care Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, University of Maryland School of Medicine, offered these tips:
• If you see your child with a toy in their mouth, remove it immediately
• If your child is choking, call 911
• If you think your child may have ingested a toy or part of a toy, even though they may seem fine, call your pediatrician or take your child to the emergency room; an x-ray will usually show it
• Keep magnet, batteries, beads, small lights, and other small toy parts away from children
Some of the recalled toys that our researchers found available for sale in online stores include:
• A toy glockenspiel recalled in February 2016 due to high levels of lead paint. Lead can cause adverse health effects if the paint is scraped off and ingested.
• A remote-controlled flying toy recalled in June 2016 with a charging cord that can drastically overheat, causing injuries.
• A pencil case with two magnets in the lid that can detach, posing an ingestion hazard. If these magnets are swallowed, they can link together inside a child's intestines and result in serious internal injuries.
Read our full report, which includes a comprehensive list of recalled toys that we found available for sale online, as well as specific information including manufacturers’ names, pictures, and remedies for what consumers should do if they find the recalled toys in their homes.
It is illegal to sell a recalled product under CPSC rules. We have notified the CPSC about these potentially illegal sales and have asked them to investigate these toys further and take appropriate action.
The CPSC should improve recall effectiveness by:
• Engaging in efforts to increase consumer and researcher awareness of the public hazard database SaferProducts.gov.
• Aggressively seeking to increase recall effectiveness by making sellers agree to conduct more effective outreach campaigns that stress the real hazard posed, rather than simply promoting the purported good will of the firm.
• Performing regular online sweeps checking for the availability of previously-recalled toys.
• Holding companies reselling recalled products accountable, which will also send a message to others.
Parents and caregivers can also take steps to protect children from potential hazards. We recommend that parents:
• Subscribe to email recall updates from the CPSC and other U.S. government safety agencies available at www.recalls.gov.
• Shop with Maryland PIRG Education Fund’s Toy Safety Tips, available at toysafetytips.org.
• Examine toys carefully for hazards before purchase – and don’t trust that they are safe just because they are on a store shelf. Check the CPSC recall database at CPSC.gov before buying toys online.
• Report unsafe toys or toy-related injuries to the CPSC at Saferproducts.gov.
• Remember, toys on our list are presented as examples of previously recalled toys only. Other hazards may exist.
• Review the recalled toys list in this report and compare it to toys in your children’s toy boxes.
• Put small parts, or toys broken into small parts, out of reach. Regularly check that toys appropriate for your older children are not left within reach of children who still put things in their mouths.
Over the past eight years, stronger rules have helped get some of the most dangerous toys and children’s products off the market. For example, rules put in place by the 2008 Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act tightened lead limits and phased out dangerous phthalates.
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Maryland PIRG (Public Interest Research Group) Foundation is an independent, non-partisan group that works for consumers and the public interest. Through research, public education and outreach, we serve as counterweights to the influence of powerful special interests that threaten our health, safety, or well-being.
The University of Maryland Children’s Hospital (UMCH) is recognized throughout the Mid-Atlantic region as a valuable resource providing primary, specialty and critical care for children, from newborns to young adults. UMCH physicians and staff excel in combining state-of-the-art medicine with family-centered care. When a child is sick, the entire family is affected, so education and compassion are foundations for the care delivered here. To learn more, visit http://umm.edu/programs/childrens.
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