Deaths from toy hazards have declined, but holiday shoppers may still find dangerous toys on store shelves, according to a study Tuesday by a private watchdog group.
The U.S. Public Interest Research Group, which has conducted annual toy safety studies for the past 12 years, says it has seen safety improvements since a 1994 law requiring warning labels on certain toys. Nevertheless, it cited 18 dangerous toys or types of toys that are still being sold.
Most of the hazardous toys have small removable parts that can be swallowed.
“Even though there is less trouble in toyland, it’s important for toygivers to understand they need to shop around,” said Edmund Mierzwinski, the group’s consumer program director.
Using a choke tube to demonstrate the safety standards for toys, Mierzwinski noted that children choking on small objects remains one of the most common toy-related injuries. At least 259 children have choked to death on children’s products since 1980, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
The 1994 Child Safety Protection Act banned toys that contain small parts for children under 3 and ordered choke hazard warnings for those between ages 3 and 6.
But PIRG says some toys are still not labeled properly. Balloons, one of the leading causes of choking, continue to be marketed for young children’s birthday parties.
Some manufacturers on the danger list say they don’t agree with PIRG’s assessment of industry toy hazards.
Eden’s Madeline Doll, which is based on a book character, was cited for having play value for children under 3, but also having removable small parts such as shoes.
Company president Richard Miller said the product is conspicuously labeled on the front panel as not for children under 3 years old.
xxxx TOY SAFETY TIPS Some toy safety tips from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group: Beware of products that can break into little pieces or have small detachable parts. Make sure small toys intended for an older child in a household stay out of the hands of a younger child. Keep balloons away from children under 8. Children who bite on inflated balloons can inhale air too rapidly from them. Broken balloon pieces also are a leading cause of choking. Rounded toys have a greater tendency to cause choking problems because a child’s airway can be completely blocked. Keep small balls and marbles out of their reach. Avoid infant toys with cords or rope which could lead to strangulation. Projectile toys and launchers can damage children’s skin, eyes or ears.