Annual Trouble In Toyland Report: Toys Are ‘Safer Than Ever’

Consumer Group US PIRG Says Potential Hazards Still Exist On Store Shelves, At Home

Trouble in Toyland report released
Play things that could cause potential hazards for children are identified in the annual Trouble in Toyland report put out by a national public interest group. Products singled out include toys that are connected to the internet that could spy on kids and manufactured “slime” which could contain high levels of boron. Shamane Mills/WPR

Toy recalls have declined since a big spike a decade ago, but each year some toys turn deadly.

There were 13 toy-related deaths last year in the United States and an estimated 251,700 toy-related injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

More than half the fatalities involved riding toys, such as scooters. In some cases a motor vehicle was also involved.

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According to the CPSC, there have been 18 toy recalls so far this year, ranging from the Playtime Pals Pop-Up Hideaway Hut to the Nickelodeaon PAW PATROL Deluxe Marshall Hat with Flashlight.

U.S. PIRG, a public interest group, did not find any of the newly recalled toys still being sold online, but according to the group, that does not mean parents have removed such toys from their homes.

Other potentially hazardous toys are still available on store shelves.

One of the more popular things children play with is slime, and that can contain high levels of boron, which is commonly used in making glass and pesticides. The substance can cause nausea, vomiting, long-term reproductive health issues, and can even be fatal if swallowed, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“Despite actions by Canada and the European Union, the U.S. currently has no limit on boron in children’s products and without a warning label parents are unaware of potential dangers,” Emma Fisher of WISPIRG, a nonpartisan organization focused on consumer advocacy, said Tuesday, Nov. 20 when discussing the Trouble in Toyland report at American Family Children’s Hospital in Madison.

U.S. PIRG’s 33rd annual Trouble in Toyland report — which warns shoppers of potentially hazardous or deadly toys with risks that include choking, privacy, poisoning, and more — hailed toys as “safer than ever before” thanks to decades of work by Congress, parents and product safety advocates.

The group tested 40 toys and found 15 with potential problems because of size, noise and toxic substances.

“Shoppers should be aware and cautious this holiday season,” said Nicole Vesely, Madison Area Coordinator with the Safe Kids Coalition. “Be sure to buy toys that are appropriate for your child’s age and abilities, as indicated by safety labels, and look for toys with quality design and construction. Also, please be cautious of gifts with magnets or batteries, as both can be very dangerous to little ones.”