News Release

Parents Beware - Many Toys Still Toxic, Hazardous

New Mobile Toy Tool Can Help Parents Shop Safe
For Immediate Release

Baltimore, Nov. 24 – Dangerous or toxic toys can still be found on America’s store shelves, Maryland PIRG announced on Tuesday in its 24th annual Trouble in Toyland report.

The latest Trouble in Toyland report, along with a new interactive tool accessible via smart phone or computer – or - will help parents and other toy-buyers avoid some common hazards.

And if toy buyers discover they have bought a dangerous toy, they can report it to Maryland PIRG using the new interactive website. Consumers should also report dangerous products to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

“Now parents can shop safely and avoid purchasing potentially dangerous toys for their kids,” said Maryland PIRG’s Jenny Levin.

“And with our new, interactive tool, parents and other consumers can report toys they think are hazardous so we can investigate them and report them to the federal government,” he added.

The 2009 Trouble in Toyland report  – and the interactive website reachable from mobile phone or computer – focus on three categories of toy hazards: toys that may pose choking hazards, toys that are excessively loud, and toys that contain the toxic chemicals lead and phthalates.

Maryland PIRG noted that some progress has been made on toy safety in the past year, thanks to a new law overhauling the CPSC.

“But there’s no magic wand to fix the CPSC, and making products safer won’t happen overnight,” said Jenny Levin. “Restoring consumer confidence in the products we buy will take continued hard work on the part of the CPSC and responsible retailers and manufacturers.”

The findings in this year’s Trouble in Toyland highlight the need for continued improvement in order to protect American’s children:

  • Despite a ban on small parts in toys for children under three, there are still toys available that pose serious choking hazards. Between 1990 and 2008, at least 196 children died after choking or asphyxiating on a toy or toy part; three died in 2008 alone.
  • Some toys tested exceeded 85 decibels sound level, which is the volume threshold established under American Society for Testing and Materials standards. Almost 15 percent of children aged 6 to 17 show signs of hearing loss.
  • Earlier this year, toys and other children’s products containing more than 0.1% of phthalates were banned. Still, Maryland PIRG found children’s products that contained concentrations of phthalates up to 7.2%.
  • Lead was also severely restricted in toys earlier this year, but Maryland PIRG researchers found lead-laced toys on store shelves. Lead has negative health effects on almost every organ and system in the human body. One preschool book contained lead paint far above the new limits.

“We’re encouraged that Toys R Us stopped the sale of this particular book once we notified the CPSC of the lead paint violation,” Jenny Levin noted. “We hope we can continue to see this kind of progress in protecting kids from all toy hazards.”

But one store chain removing one book from its shelves is not enough to keep the country’s children from harm.

In fact, according to the most recent data from the CPSC, toy-related injuries sent more than 82,000 children under the age of five to emergency rooms in 2008. Nineteen children died from toy-related injuries that year.

That’s why the PIRG federation developed the interactive tool – or – that allows shoppers to check on possible hazards, as well as report hazards they find.

"I applaud Maryland PIRG for reminding parents, elected officials and the CPSC every Thanksgiving that we need to do even more to protect children from choking hazards, toxic chemicals and other problems that toys may pose," said Towson mother Kate Canada at the release Tuesday.

Maryland Congressman John Sarbanes stated, "It's amazing that with all the advanced technology available, dangerous toys are still found in stores across America. As a parent, I strongly believe we must have appropriate safe guards to protect America's children from toxic and harmful toys and I will continue to work with my colleagues in the Congress to ensure that the proper safety measures are in place."

For 24 years, the Maryland PIRG Trouble in Toyland report has offered safety guidelines for purchasing toys for small children and provides examples of toys currently on store shelves that pose potential safety hazards.

Defend the CFPB

Tell your senators to oppose the “Financial CHOICE Act,” which would gut Wall Street reforms and destroy the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as we know it.

Support us

Your donation supports Maryland PIRG's work to stand up for consumers on the issues that matter, especially when powerful interests are blocking progress.

Consumer Alerts

Join our network and stay up to date on our campaigns, get important consumer updates, and take action on critical issues.
Optional Member Code