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Annual 'Trouble in Toyland' Report Highlights Most Dangerous Toys of 2014

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Annual 'Trouble in Toyland' Report Highlights Most Dangerous Toys of 2014

Peter Skopec, campaigns director at WISPIRG

Madison, Wisconsin - The number one item on every parent and shopper's "to-do" list this year? Learn which potentially dangerous toys to avoid to keep children safe.

That's the wish of The Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group, which released its 29th annual "Trouble in Toyland" report Dec. 2. The report offers safety guidelines for consumers and identifies several potentially unsafe toys to watch out for this holiday season.

"We should be able to trust that the toys we buy are safe," says Peter Skopec, campaigns director at WISPIRG. "However, until that's the case, parents need to watch out for common hazards when shopping for toys."

WISPIRG has been sharing safety guidelines for purchasing toys for small children for nearly three decades. And national regulations put in place over the past six years, on hazards such as lead limits, phthalates and small toy sets with powerful magnets have made a difference.

But not all toy manufactures comply with these laws, leaving it up to consumers to remain vigilant. WISPIRG encourages holiday shoppers to keep an eye out for these four hazards when choosing children's toys:

Small Toys

Despite a ban on small parts in toys for children under three years old, WISPIRG researchers still found many products on store shelves that pose a choking hazard. One such toy is Disney's "Junior DocMcStuffins" play set, which they found for sale on and contains multiple small parts without proper warning labels.

Some of the toys featured in the 2014 Trouble in Toyland report

WISPIRG also warns against toys resembling food for children under the age of three, because kids might not understand they should not eat them.

In the last year, the Consumer Product Safety Commission recalled more than 86,000 toys for small parts, but WISPIRG is advocating for even more stringent standards.

Skopec suggests using a handy household item to test the safety of toys with small parts at home: an empty toilet-paper roll.

Extremely Loud Toys

One noisy toy WISPIRG added to its list is the Leap Frog "Chat and Count Smart Phone," found at Target. The product doesn't violate noise standards, but researchers say it's still a potential hazard because the toy is meant to be held to a child's ear during play.

According to Skopec, an estimated one out of seven children ages 6-17 show signs of hearing loss, possibly due in part to loud toys and music players.

Toys With Powerful Magnets

Small, powerful magnets pose a threat to children if swallowed. Emergency department personnel treated approximately 2,900 injuries caused by high-powered magnets from 2009-13. A 19-month-old girl died in 2013 when a handful of small magnetic balls perforated her bowel.

In September, the CPSC put in place a stricter ban on magnets, but it won't take effect until April 2015. For now, some dangerous magnet sets continue to be sold in stores, including one of last year's most dangerous toys, the "Sizzlers" noise magnet, and Zen Magnets' "Mini Set."

Toys Containing Toxic Chemicals

Researchers have linked chemicals such as phthalates, lead or chromium to developmental and behavioral issues in children, and despite CPSC standards, you can still find toys on store shelves containing these chemicals.

Researchers found a "Jake and the Neverland Pirates" tambourine at Dollar Tree stores containing more than nine times the legal limit of chromium, for example. According to WISPIRG's 2014 report, contact with that chemical can cause severe allergic reactions including skin redness, swelling and ulcers. Chromium compounds are also known to cause cancer.

Date Published: 12/02/2014