Toys containing toxic chemicals and posing potential choking and health hazards are still on offer to consumers as the 2011 holiday shopping season begins, according to a report by a public interest advocacy group.

The California Public Interest Research Group’s annual “Trouble in Toyland” report, which surveys and assesses toy safety, was released to the public today–just days before Black Friday kicks off the toy-shopping season.

With the enactment of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act in 2008 there have been stronger federal regulations, minimizing the harmful toxins in new toys, said Jon Fox, a consumer advocate at CALPIRG.

However, lead, cadmium and phthalates are among the harmful chemicals that can still be found in select toys, Fox said.

“There are still hazards out there on the shelves despite new regulations,” Fox said.
One of the toys CALPIRG identified as hazardous in this year’s report is the interactive book for toddlers, “Little Hands Love”, published by Piggy Toes Press.

According to Fox, the book was tested by CALPIRG and found to have 720 points per million of lead, which exceeds the current legal lead amount in toys, set at 300 points per million.

“Over time, high levels of lead exposure can harm the neurological, and cognitive process in children,” said Dr. Christine Cho, a physician in the Department of Pediatrics at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital.

In addition to chemical hazards, some small game pieces and electronic toys available this holiday season have been found unsuitable for young children, Fox said.

High decibel levels in noisy toys can damage a child’s hearing, while small parts may be swallowed and obstruct the airways of young children, said Cho.

According to Fox, the Consumer Protection Safety Commission does not screen all toys available for purchase in toy stores, so toys may potentially end up on shelves without passing tough inspections.

The Consumer Protection Safety Commission released a statement this month citing the new toy safeguards being enforced. Among them, was the commission’s commitment to working with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to track shipments in transit from other countries, thereby increasing seizures of dangerous imported toys.

A list of recalled toys compiled by USPIRG can be found at The Consumer Protection Safety Commission urges the public to report harmful toys by calling (800) 638-2772.

Hannah Albarazi, Bay City News

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