There are at least 24 toys on store shelves that may be dangerous gifts in innocent disguises, according to a consumer watchdog group.
Deemed dangerous for children in the 29th annual “Trouble in Toyland” report released this week by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, the toys identified are toxic or are either ingestion or choking hazards.
One of the toys, produced by Greenbrier International and called Badge Playset, includes a sheriff’s star and a “special police” badge. The report said an excessive amount of lead was discovered in a laboratory test of both badges. The playset is one of five toys on the list labeled as toxic hazards for lead, chromium or phthalates, which are potentially harmful chemicals used to make plastic more durable.
The Zen Magnets Mini Set and Sonic Sound Sizzlers noise magnets were classified as ingestion hazards. If swallowed, the magnets can bind across intestinal walls, which would require emergency surgery, according to the report. Buckyballs, which are toy magnetic spheres, are illegal to sell in the United States, but made the list because they can be purchased online.
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The other toys on the list, including a shopping cart playset and a baseball-shaped Magic Towel, could be choking hazards. Some of the toys on the list have small parts that could be removed and swallowed. Other toys were missing warnings, and still others weren’t labeled with appropriate age for use.
Toys on the list can be found on the shelves of Dollar Tree, Family Dollar, Wal-Mart, Kmart, Walgreens, Target and elsewhere, according to the report.
Florence Allen, who owns William’s Fun Smart Toys in Macon’s Ingleside Village, said parents should be diligent when shopping for toys, no matter the age level.
Allen said the perfect gift is age appropriate, fun and challenging.
“Sometimes people will look at some of these (toys) and think, ‘Oh, (my child is) beyond that.’ But you almost have to think, ‘Well, what’s going to be safe for them?’ ’’ she said. “I try to show people safe options, but I also try to balance that with where the child is developmentally.”
Children 2 to 4 years old are drawn to the marble maze in the storefront.
“They will stand there and literally play with that thing the whole time Mom’s in here shopping, but all it takes is one to pop a marble in his mouth,” Allen said. “Even here, I’ve got toys out, (and) we still have to be conscious of it.”
Last year, emergency rooms in American hospitals treated about 256,700 toy-related injuries, according to a report from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Seventy-three percent of those injured were to children under the age of 15.
“Just be conscious of what you’re getting,” Allen said. “Children learn so much through play that having a good, fun, safe toy is great.”
For the full 2014 “Trouble in Toyland” report, visit www.uspirg.org.
To contact writer Laura Corley, call 744-4382.