COLUMBUS, Ohio (WTVN) -- Dangerous or toxic toys can still be found on America’s store shelves, according to the Ohio Public Interest Research Group’s 28th annual Trouble in Toyland report.
The organization went shopping in local stores and found toys that included toxic chemicals like lead, cadmium, and phthalates, all of which can have serious health impacts on children. Some items, like a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles plastic pencil bag, were able to skirt federal laws because they aren't considered a toy or child-care item.
"Policy makers should overhaul our toxics policy because the current law fails to adequately keep unsafe toys off store shelves," said Ohio PIRG's Bryan Stewart.
Stewart found several toys with high lead levels including a toddler toy with 29 times the legal limit of lead (2900 ppm), and play jewelry for children with 2 times the legal limit (200 ppm). They also found an infant play mat with high levels of the toxic metal antimony, and a child’s pencil case with high levels of phthalates and cadmium.
The survey also found small toys that pose a choking hazard, extremely loud toys that threaten children’s hearing, and toy magnets that can cause serious injury if swallowed.
“We should be able to trust that the toys we buy are safe. However, until that’s the case, parents need to watch out for common hazards when shopping for toys,” said Stewart.
Ohio PIRG suggests parents do their own simple tests to prevent choking. You can use a simple toilet paper tube to make sure small toys and parts aren't able to be swallowed by children.
Tracy Mehan with Nationwide Children's Hospital says small, but powerful magnets are another big issue. They can do some serious damage.
"If swallowed, the attraction force of this magnet is so strong that it will actually tear holes through organs to come together and find each other in the child's body," she said.
From 2009 to 2011 there were about 1,700 hospitalizations related to magnets being swallowed. Balloons and small rubber balls are also major choking hazards for young children.
When it comes to loud toys, Ohio PIRG recommends parents download free apps on their smartphones to measure sound level. Anything over 85 decibels for long periods of time can lead to hearing loss.
Over the past five years, stronger rules have helped get some of the most dangerous toys and children’s products off the market. Improvements made in 2008’s Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act tightened lead limits and phased out dangerous phthalates. However, not all toys comply with the law, and holes in the toy safety net remain.
You can read the entire report here.
The Toy Industry Association fired back calling the report an opportunity for media attention.
"Like PIRG, members of the toy industry are intent on assuring that the toys consumers bring into their homes are safe for their families. Unlike PIRG, we maintain our priority focus on toy safety every day of the year," it said in a statement.
The organization says they educate all toy stakeholders – especially manufacturers and retailers – about strict
"Providing safe toys for children is the industry’s highest priority; assuring that all play is safe is a responsibility we share with parents and other caregivers. Education and information is the best way to help families select the ‘perfect’ toys for their children … a ‘perfect’ toy is one that is age appropriate and matches the interests of the child," the group said.
The Toy Industry Association has launched their own toy-info website here.