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WashPIRG report spotlights 'Trouble in Toyland'

dangerous toys

Seth Levine, WashPIRG's consumer advocate, demonstrates some of the dangerous toys that parents should watch for.
Photo by Allison Pemerl/Woodinville Weekly.

Trouble in Toyland by Allison Pemerl
Despite increased restrictions on labeling, dangerous toys can still be found on the toy store shelves, according to the Washington Public Interest Research Group (WashPIRG). Some of your children's most sought-after toys could have hidden dangers or misleading labels, WashPIRG says.
   "Children are still needlessly choking to death on toys, even though these regulations have been in effect for two years," said consumer advocate Seth Levine. "Toys should bring children pleasure and joy; instead, too often, toys cause injuries and deaths."
   "Trouble in Toyland," WashPIRG's 11th annual toy safety survey, reports that choking is the leading cause of toy deaths. In 1995 alone, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reported 21 toy-related deaths, 12 of which were caused by choking.
   Other findings show that many of the labels and warnings placed on toys by the manufacturers were misleading. Many toys labeled safe for children under the age of three still contain small parts that are choking hazards. Some containing small parts or small balls were labeled for children over three, but did not contain proper warnings or labels.
   The report also found that many toys that do not violate the CPSC regulation are still potentially dangerous. Such toys containing long cords or sharp edges, are unsafe for children of any age.
   The following is a list of toys posing choking or strangulation hazards found by PIRG researchers:

   Balloons remain the top choking hazard, causing more deaths than any other children's product. Since 1990, 35 people have choked to death on uninflated balloons or parts of balloons. In 1995, eight of the 12 choking related deaths were caused by balloons.
   WashPIRG believes adults should avoid balloons for children under the age of eight or balloons with attractive animals and cartoon figures appealing to toddlers.
   For the complete 1996 "Trouble in Toyland" report, write to: WashPIRG; 5200 University Way NE, Suite #2201; Seattle, WA 98105; or send e-mail with the subject line "toy report" to washpirg@aol.com. Cost of the report is $10.