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Trouble in Toyland: What Not to Put Under the Tree

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(Photo- KXNT SamStone) USPIRG Field Manager Erin Larkin demonstrates an "excessively noisy" toy in Las Vegas

(Photo- KXNT SamStone) USPIRG Field Manager Erin Larkin demonstrates an “excessively noisy” toy in Las Vegas

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(Las Vegas CBS KXNT)  Toys are safer than they ever have been, says the U.S. Public  Interest Research Group, but that doesn’t mean completely carefree holiday shopping. There’s still plenty for Santa to worry about.

Dangerous toys fall into four categories, USPIRG field manager Erin Larkin told KXNT.

“Choking hazards, magnetic toys, excessively noisy toys, and toys that contain toxic chemicals.” Larkin said. The organization has issued its annual report called “Trouble in Toyland,” detailing dangerous toys.

Small kids put nearly everything in their mouths.  Fifty children choked to death on balls, balloons, toys and small parts from toys in the five years between 2005 and 2010, Larkin said.  Of particular concern are toys that look like food, because children may try to eat them.

The choking hazard test — slip the toy into an empty toilet paper roll.  If it fits, it might be small enough to block a child’s esophagus, said Larkin.

Magnets are fascinating, but they’re often packaged in pairs, and they’re bad news if they are swallowed in  multiples. Pairs of magnets that attract each other can trap organs between them or put pressure on internal tissue.

“Over 1,700 cases emergency room cases have involved the ingestion of multiple magnets,” Larking told KXNT. Kids younger than 8 years shouldn’t be given magnets at all, she said.

USPIRG calls a toy “excessively noisy” if it registers above 93 decibels.  Larkin demonstrated a toy guitar that could damage a child’s hearing with prolonged exposure.

The fourth category is toys with toxic chemicals.  The primary offender for years was lead, which has been regulated out of toys for sale in the United States, but there are other toxins that may be present in toys. Find more information in the report, “Trouble in Toyland.”

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