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Report: Healthy Kids, Healthy Maryland
Trouble in Toyland
In 2008, Congress responded to an unprecedented wave of recalls of toys and other children’s products by passing the first major overhaul of the Consumer Product Safety Commission since it was established during the Nixon Administration. By passing the landmark Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) in August 2008, Congress not only expanded the agency’s budget, it also gave the CPSC more tools to hold corporate wrongdoers accountable and speed recalls, moved toward banning toxic lead and phthalates except in trace amounts, and greatly improved import surveillance.
The recall of 45 million toys and other children’s products in 2007 and continued recalls in 2008 reminded Americans that no government agency tests toys before they are put on the shelves.
Specifically, the wave of recalls focused attention on the fact that the agency charged with protecting Americans from unsafe products—the Consumer Product Safety Commission—is a little agency with a very big job to do.
The CPSIA strengthened the CPSC and established tough new protections against toxic chemicals like lead and phthalates. New and expanded leadership at the CPSC has begun to put these protections into effect.
But there is no magic wand to rehabilitate the tattered product safety net. Considering the 15,000 products under its regulation, the CPSC remains a very small agency with a very big job to do. Tough new bans on lead and phthalates are a good step in the right direction, but there are tens of thousands of toxic chemicals in our children’s lives. We continue to learn more about the relationship of toxic chemicals to chronic diseases. More must be done to protect our families from toxic chemicals.
The 2009 Trouble in Toyland report is the 24th annual Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) survey of toy safety. This report provides safety guidelines for parents when purchasing toys for small children and provides examples of toys currently on store shelves that may pose potential safety hazards.
In researching the report, we visited numerous national chain toy stores and other retailers in September and October 2009 to identify potentially dangerous toys. We analyzed CPSC notices of recalls and other regulatory actions to identify trends in toy safety. This year, we focused 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.
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