How safe are your children’s toys?

It’s the time of the year for millions of toys to be distributed all over the world just in time for the holidays. One morning soon, children all over the world will wake up with smiling faces to toys awaiting them under the tree. This joy of new toys takes a turn when a new study revealed that approximately 18 children an hour are sent to the emergency room for a toy-related injury. Parents should be aware of the dangers of toys to avoid serious injury. According to the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), these are the four most common hazards in toys.

1. Lead

Lead continues to be a hazard in a variety of toys. Lead is tasteless and odorless, and exposure to it could cause coma or seizures. Lead typically will build in the system over time instead of a single high dose. Some symptoms may be hard to recognize in children until it’s too late.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a lead limit of 40 parts per million (ppm). The federal legal lead standard is 100 ppm. Many toys are exceeding the legal limit. Lead can be found in imported toys and is often used to make plastic more flexible. Over time, the chemical bond between the lead and plastic can break down and turn into an inhalable dust.

Example: Captain America Soft Shield contains 29 times more lead than the legal standard. (For ages 2+)

2. Additional toxics

The federal government has a legal standard for six different phthalates of 1,000 ppm. Two of these are antimony and cadmium and were found in toys by the PIRG in 2013. Antimony is considered a carcinogen in California a human carcinogen by The International Agency for Research on Cancer and the European Union. Animal studies have linked these phthalates to symptoms from eye irritation to fertility problems and lung cancer. Despite the 1,000 ppm limit, some toys contain more than the legal standard.

Cadmium is a known carcinogen similar to lead. This phthalate can delay brain development and cause kidney problems. According to a study at the Harvard University, children are three times more likely to have a learning disability when exposed to cadmium. It is most commonly used in batteries, but may also be used in pigments and as a stabilizer for PVC plastics. Six recalls took place in 2006 when the Associated Press found more than 100 children’s jewelry pieces containing more than 90 percent cadmium.

Example: Ninja Turtles Pencil case contains 150,000 ppm of one of the six phthalates (150 times the legal limit).

3. Choking Hazards

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has a choke test cylinder mimicking a child’s throat under the age of three that is 1.24 inches in diameter and a slanted depth of 1 to 2.25 inches. If the product or piece of the product fits in the choke test cylinder, it is banned for children under the age of three. These products must be labeled with a choking hazard warning.

Most toy manufacturers appropriately label their products, but some do not. These are typically toys for older children and found in dollar stores. Some toys are mislabeled, while some are not labeled at all.

Example: The Little Pet Shop Collection by Hasbro contains parts that fit in choke test cylinder with no appropriate labeling.

4. Excessively Loud Toys

The CPSC has four main standards for noise-making toys. Hand-held, floor and crib toys cannot produce continuous sounds that exceed 85 dB. Toys used close to the ear, cannot exceed 65 dB. These sounds are measured from 2.5 cm. Toys with impact-type sounds cannot produce sounds louder than 115 dB, and toys with explosive-type sounds cannot exceed 125 dB. These sounds are measured from 50 cm away.

With 15 percent of children showing signs of hearing loss, these standards should be taken seriously by toy manufacturers. Sound standards are measured from 50 cm, while children often play with toys much closer than that and even hold toys up to their ears. The hearing loss can happen over a period of time and make it difficult for the child to understand speech and distort other sounds. These effects last through adulthood but are more damaging when the child is learning language.

Example: The LeapFrog Chat & Count Smartphone and Lil’Phone Pal both exceed 85 dB. (Ages 16 to 18 months)

Some children are wrongly killed because of the toy manufacturers’ irresponsibility. If your child has been injured or killed by a toy that lacked appropriate labeling, speak to a personal injury attorney immediately. The Carlson Law Firm has personal injury attorneys that take cases like these and offer their best representation of your family. Contact The Carlson Law Firm for a free case evaluation.


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