The Perils of Holiday Toy Shopping: What Consumers Need to Know About Toy Safety

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As the start of the holiday shopping season is upon us, a watchdog organization is warning parents and consumers to be aware of innocent looking but dangerous toys lining the shelves of physical and online stores.

The expose, titled “Trouble in Toyland,” is a report released Tuesday by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. A slew of toys were red flagged for posing different types of hazards and risks to children including choking, burns, lacerations, broken bones, cuts, suffocation, drowning and even chemical exposures.

Some of the toys the organization is warning consumers to steer clear of include slime containing dangerous chemicals, toys with small parts that are potential choking hazards, and electronic toys plugged into the web that have the potential to record sensitive information about the young users and relay it to outside parties.

In 2018, over 40 recalls of toys and children’s products have been issued by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Since manufacturers are not required to release data to the public in terms of how many toys were returned or repaired, it’s impossible to know how many of them might still be in homes, according to the Public Interest Research Groups. Yet, it is estimated that only 65% of all recalled products are returned or fixed, leaving a significant percentage of youngsters susceptible to injury from damaged products.

According to Mainor Wirth Injury Lawyers, while choking is the leading toy-related injury among kids from defective toys, the risk of chemical exposure, along with choking hazards, are the most common causes of toy recalls. Chemical hazards such as phthalate exposure can arise from the paint or other finishes used to coat plastic, metallic, or wooden components. Toxic chemicals can also be emitted from slimes, doughs, and fillings used to create everything from molding dough to stress balls. Exposure to toxic substances are thought to cause cancers, neurological damage, and other injuries that may develop over time. Choking hazards exist when small pieces of toys can become dislodged and ingested by a young child.

While in many cases, these toys are produced in China where product safety standards are considerably more relaxed than they are in the United States, the safety hazards sometimes come about because companies take shortcuts in the rush to get their new products on the market. However, when companies know that their actions could result in product liability lawsuits that could damage their reputations, they are more likely to follow and enforce safety protocols. In the event that there is a concern that a product may be defective, harmful or dangerous to consumers, the manufacturer and the CPSC should be contacted and immediately.

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