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Toys Getting Safer, But Dangers Still Lurk: Report

TUESDAY, Nov. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Progress has been made, but a number of dangerous or toxic toys are still found on store shelves in the United States, according to the 25th annual Trouble in Toyland report released Tuesday by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG).

"We've made a lot of progress, but dangerous toys can still be found among our children's playthings," U.S. PIRG public health advocate Liz Hitchcock said in a news release from the group.

Among the key findings:

  • Despite a ban on toys and other children's products that contain more than 0.1 percent of phthalates (linked to hormonal disruptions in studies) the group found items that exceed that level, including a baby doll with phthalate concentrations of up to 30 percent.
  • In order to reduce the risk of choking, toys for children younger than 3 years old can't have small parts. But U.S. PIRG came across toys that pose a serious choking hazard, including a toy train with a wooden peg that nearly led to the choking death of a child.
  • The group also found toys with toxic levels of lead and antimony. Lead is associated with a number of health problems and antimony is classified as a human carcinogen.

An overhaul and new leadership at the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has been a major reason for the improved safety of toys and other children's products, U.S. PIRG said.

"The CPSC is doing a good job under its expanded authority, but there is still more work to be done, especially when it comes to reducing choking hazards and regulating the tens of thousands of chemicals that may be in the toys our children play with," Hitchcock said.

In 2009, toy-related injuries caused the deaths of 12 U.S. children and sent more than 250,000 children (90,000 under age 5) to emergency departments, according to the CPSC.

More information

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has more about toy safety.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: U.S. Public Interest Research Group, news release, Nov. 23, 2010

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