If there’s one gift that all kids have come to expect during these holidays, it’s toys.
Canadians spent more than $466 million on toys, electronic games, and hobby supplies – in 2012 alone. That same year, department stores in the U.S. sold $27 billion worth of goods, many of which were toys.
Another interesting point, the value of toys imported to the U.S. in 2012 totaled $9.6 billion. American kids receive a lot of gifts each year. But could the toys you give your kids or grandkids be dangerous?
The U.S. Public Interest Research Group has released its 28th annual Trouble in Toyland report, providing safety guidelines for consumers looking to purchase toys for small children. In addition to safety guidelines, the report lists examples of toys already stocking store shelves which could be a threat to children’s health and safety.
Some of the findings in the 2013 Trouble in Toyland include:
Lead is still present in toys. There might be lead in the paint or other materials, more common in discount imported toys. Lead poisoning, in fact, is still prevalent in North America and can harm a child’s growth and development. A number of toys still contained well over the recommended limit of lead (100 ppm). One toddler toy had 29 times the legal limit of lead (2900 ppm), and play jewelry for children was discovered with two times the legal limit (200 ppm).
Many toys contain toxins and chemicals. Phthalates are toxic to the body, and limited to 1,000 ppm. Other chemicals, such as arsenic, antimony and cadmiums should also be limited. A few toys contained excessive levels of both phthalates and the above-mentioned chemicals. An infant play mat had high levels of the toxic metal antimony, and a child’s pencil case contained high levels of phthalates and cadmium.
While not all of the toys on shelves this holiday contain toxins and chemicals, the fact that there are some out there should definitely be a concern for parents.
Here are some recommendations from the Better Business Bureau on how to buy toys that are free of toxins and chemicals:
Check for toy recalls. The CPSC recalls a number of toys each year due to safety hazards, so it’s wise to check the CPSC website (www.cpsc.gov) to see if the toy you are considering buying for a child on your list.
Send back recalled toys immediately. It’s estimated that only 20 percent of recalled toys actually get sent back to their manufacturer – meaning 80 percent of the hazardous toys are still in the hands of children. If the toy you purchased is a threat, send it back immediately!
Be wary of online shopping. Online retailers aren’t as quick to pull hazardous toys from their virtual shelves as traditional retailers are. Some auction sites even sell recalled toys, so buying toys online can be dangerous.
Consider organic. Most organic toys are made with chemical-free renewable materials, meaning that they are child-friendly as well as eco-friendly. They are costlier, but usually much safer.