U.S. PIRG’S Trouble in Toyland finds dangerous toys on shelves during holiday shopping season
Columbia, SC—Today, Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital, in its role to help keep children safe in the community, shared the U.S. Public Interest Research Group’s (U.S. PIRG) 33rd annual Trouble in Toyland Report. Unfortunately, according to the report, dangerous or toxic toys can still be found on America’s store shelves. The survey of potentially hazardous toys found that, despite recent progress, consumers must still be wary when shopping this holiday season.
“No one should worry about whether or not the toy they’re buying is toxic or dangerous. But in 2018, we’re still finding hazards in some of the most popular toys. Toy manufacturers must do better to ensure their products are safe before they end up in children’s hands and mouths,” said Adam Garber, Consumer Watchdog for U.S. PIRG.
Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital pediatricians Jeff Holloway, MD, and Sara Sheehan, MD, discussed the list of recalled toys and provided tips for shoppers to help them avoid purchasing unsafe toys for loved ones this holiday season.
Holloway said, “We should be able to trust that the toys we buy are safe, however, until that is the case, parents and toy shoppers should know that recalled toys still can be found online and may already be in children’s homes. It is illegal to sell a recalled product under Consumer Product Safety Commission rules, but the report shows that recalled toys are being sold to unsuspecting consumers online. The Trouble in Toyland report includes a full list of recalled toys, shopping tips and recommendations for what consumers should do if they have the recalled toys in their homes.”
For more than 30 years, Trouble in Toyland has issued toy safety guidelines and has provided examples of toys currently on store shelves that pose potential safety hazards to small children. Key findings from this year’s report include:
- Hazardous Slime: A number of popular ‘slimes’ had toxic levels of boron, likely in the form of borax, up to 15 times the European Union’s limit. According to the EPA, ingesting boron can cause nausea, vomiting, long-term reproductive health issues and can even be fatal.
- Missing Online Choking Warnings: In a survey of five search pages for balloons, U.S. PIRG found no choking hazard labels on 87 percent of the latex balloons marketed to parents of children under 2, an apparent violation of the law. Among children’s products, balloons are the leading cause of suffocation death.
- Privacy-Invasive Smart Toys: The report also highlights two smart toys, a robot toy and a tablet, with privacy concerns discovered through an investigation by the Mozilla Foundation. Every year, the potential for smart toys to expose private data becomes a more significant concern.
Sheehan added, “The continued presence of these hazards in toys highlights the need for constant vigilance by parents, grandparents and gift-givers to ensure that children do not end up playing with unsafe toys. We also want parents and toy shoppers to look carefully at toys they may already own and toys that are in the homes of friends and family they may be visiting during the holidays.”
Tano Toussaint, Consumer Watchdog Associate at U.S. PIRG, said, “Regulators need to determine the appropriate health-based standards to protect children from boron in slime. In the meantime, we want parents to know the risks, so they can supervise their kids accordingly.”
While there are currently no limits on boron in children’s toys in the U.S., the advocacy organization called for placing warning labels on products and a full public hearing to determine safe levels of boron.
In addition to identifying dangerous toys already on store shelves, U.S. PIRG provides a guide on how parents, grandparents and other caretakers can ensure toys are safe and stay updated on recalled toys at ToySafetyTips.org.
About Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital
Palmetto Health Children's Hospital has more than 150,000 children’s visits each year and celebrated its 35th birthday this year. It offers more than 30 subspecialties to meet the unique health care needs of children and has central South Carolina's only Children’s Emergency Center. With more than 350 professionals who work exclusively with children, Palmetto Health Children's Hospital has a team of highly skilled and trained experts unmatched by any hospital in the Midlands. Palmetto Health Children's Hospital is the place to go for children's medical care, because the best care matters. For more information, visit PalmettoHealthChildrens.org.
About U.S. PIRG
U.S. PIRG (Public Interest Research Group) is an independent, non-partisan group that works for consumers and the public interest. Through research, public education and outreach, we serve as counterweights to the influence of powerful special interests that threaten our health, safety or well-being. For more information, visit USPIRG.org.