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Report Warns Parents of Toy Safety Hazards on Area Shelves

Holiday Toy Shopping
Holiday Toy Shopping: Photo Courtesy of wsh1266 via Flickr

It’s that time of year again as parents scramble to fill children’s holiday gift wish lists.  But are the toys safe?  A report released Tuesday indicates that many toys still sold on retail shelves continue to pose safety hazards.  KSMU’s Theresa Bettmann has more.

This is the 28thyear the Missouri Public Interest Research Group, or MoPIRG, has released findings about toys found in area retailers.  The nonprofit group is part of a nationwide federation of state research groups.  The report looks at toys from all types of retailers, including dollar stores, as well as places like Walmart and Toys-R-Us.  Alec Sprague is the organization’s spokesperson. 

“The first important thing to know for parents, and for other consumers who will be purchasing toys this holiday season, is that there’s no government agency that tests every toy before it goes out to market.  I think we have a tendency to assume all toys are safe and have been checked.  [It’s] better not to assume that and to be vigilant,” Sprague says.

The Trouble in Toyland report looks at four safety categories including toxicity hazards, choking hazards, magnet toys and noisy toys.  Toxicity in toys is determined by the levels of heavy metals present such as lead or cadmium.  Highly magnetic toys that can be swallowed cause severe internal injury, Sprague says.  He adds children should not be exposed regularly to noises around 85 decibels, as many toys produce. Sprague says children and toddlers especially are prone to putting everything in their mouths.

“With choking hazards we recommend using the toilet paper roll test to determine whether or not something is a choking hazard for a child.  With noisy toys we recommend putting it up to your ear and playing it.  If it is too loud for an adult, it is definitely too loud for a child,” says Sprague.

The toilet paper roll test, Sprague says, parents can do while they are initially shopping for toys.  If the toy can fit inside an empty toilet paper roll, it is small enough to be a choking hazard.  Sprague encourages shoppers to do their homework before going shopping this holiday season.

For KSMU News, I’m Theresa Bettmann.