Consumer group cites unsafe toys, urges shopper caution
Choking on small parts a leading cause of toy-related deaths
November 23, 1999
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Unsafe toys, especially those can cause a young child to choke, led to 14 deaths in the U.S. last year, according to a consumer group that urged holiday shoppers Tuesday to examine toys carefully before buying.
In its annual toy safety survey, the Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) said that despite passage of the 1994 Child Safety Protection Act, hazardous toys can still be found on toy store shelves across the country.
"While most manufacturers should be commended for complying with the law, parents should not assume that all toys on store shelves this holiday shopping season are safe or that they are properly labeled," said PIRG attorney Rachel Weintraub. "If a toy looks unsafe, don't buy it."
'Trouble in Toyland'
The PIRG "Trouble in Toyland" report lists 34 toys it considers dangerous, found during a survey of toy stores in October and November. According to PIRG:
At least 17 of the toys violate the Consumer Product Safety Commission's (CPSC) small parts standard designed to prevent choking deaths.
Three toys violate the CPSC's new small ball regulations. Other toys narrowly evade the small parts standard, but still pose choking and other hazards.
Choking on small toy parts, balloons and small balls continues to be the leading cause of toy-related deaths.
According to the CPSC:
At least 174 children died from 1990 to 1998 playing with toys.
In 1998 alone, 14 children died playing with toys, eight of those from choking.
"We recommend that parents use toilet paper tubes to see if a small part fits through (it) and if a small part does, they should not purchase the toy for a child under 3 years old," Weintraub told a Washington news conference.
Toy component toxic?
She also warned parents to be aware of toys containing toxic chemicals known as phthalates, which are added to polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic toys as a softener.
PIRG charges that the chemicals are linked to liver and kidney damage and are probable human carcinogens.
"It is outrageous that a scientist who buys a bottle of phthalate chemicals receives a full hazard warning, but a parent buying a PVC toy often finds it labeled as non-toxic," Weintraub said.
The Toy Manufacturers of America, an industry trade group, maintains there is no evidence that phthalates pose a risk to children.
Saturday Morning News: Selecting the Appropriate Toys for Your Child
Battle over phthalates heats up
The State PIRGs
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