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Written by Lindsay Crowder   
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Thursday, 04 December 2008

Toy Safety

The holiday season presents a huge list of things to think about: travel, gift giving, meal planning, and so forth. If you have children or are buying a gift for a child this year, you may also want to think about whether or not the toy you are considering may be toxic. Yes… toxic! Among the many threats that toys present, namely, choking hazards, excessive noise, or dangerous magnets, many of the toys on the market still contain toxins.

Although many consumer groups propounded in recent years that toys are safer than ever before, millions of toys were recalled in 2007. These toys were found to contain toxins such as lead, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic, cadmium, arsenic, mercury, or hormone-disrupting phthalates. Toxins pose a risk to human health and the environment. However, until recently no governmental agency tested toys before they made it to store shelves. Fortunately, on August 14, 2008, the bi-partisan Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 was signed, making consumer products safer by requiring that toys and infant products be tested before they are sold, and by banning toxic chemicals like lead and phthalates from being used during toy production.

The idea of buying a toxic toy for a child can be threatening. The organization HealthyToys.org (www.HealthyToys.org) tested over 1,200 children’s products and found lead in 35% of the products, cadmium in 2.9%, arsenic in 2.2%, and mercury in 0.7% of the products tested. Also according to the consumer group U.S. PIRG, “while the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act is a major step forward, many of its protections don’t take effect until 2009, so it’s still ‘buyer beware’ for this shopping season.” Before shopping, check out the list of recalled items at http://cpsc.gov/ and http://www.recalls.gov/. The U.S. PIRG, the federation of state Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs), has also released a report that details dangerous toys called, “Trouble in Toyland: The 23rd Annual Survey of Toy Safety” along with an online searchable database of toxic toys at http://www.uspirg.org/issues/toy-safety. On December 3, 2008, http://www.healthytoys.org/ will release their 2008 Toy Ratings for over 100 products.

After doing some at-home research, below are some resources to help you avoid buying toxic toys this holiday season:

• Avoid buying toys made with #3 PVC plastics. PVC plastic contains additives that can leach toxic chemicals. To search whether a product contains PVC by name, brand, or type of toy, check out http://www.healthytoys.org/.
• Avoid metal jewelry and small animal figurines for children. These products contained the highest amount of lead when tested. To view the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention list of lead recalls, go to http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/Recalls/default.htm.
• Review the “ Best Toys” and “Worst Toys” lists given by HealthyToys.org. They include toys with and without the high levels of lead, cadmium, chlorine, tin, chromium, arsenic, mercury, bromine, and antimony. The best: http://www.healthytoys.org/product.least.php. The worst: http://www.healthytoys.org/product.most.php.
• Buy plastic free toys. Fabric, unpainted wood, cotton, or plush toys are abundant and safe alternatives to plastics. But if you must buy plastic, try looking for kits made by LEGO (http://www.lego.com/), as this company promotes PVC and phthalate free plastics for use in toys.
• Buy natural, non-toxic branded toys. The rise in green consciousness has also translated to the toy world. For vendors of natural toys, go to http://www.planethappytoys.com/ or http://www.ecomall.com/biz/toys.htm.
At this point, there is not a comprehensive all-inclusive list of toys to avoid. You can begin to narrow down your search by using the resources given above. Or you can keep your eyes open for the following manufacturers and companies that are committed to safe, PVC-free toys:

• Manufacturers: Brio, Chicco, Early Start, First Years, IKEA, Lamaze Infant Development, Lego, Little Tykes, Playmobil, Primetime Playthings, Ravensburger, Sassy and Tiny Love.
• Companies: Target, Wal-Mart, Sears, Kmart, Microsoft, Johnson & Johnson, Nike, and Apple, and Toys “R” Us. For a full list of companies, check out: http://www.besafenet.com/pvc/companypolicies.htm.
• Completely non-toxic vendors: www.Beyond-learning.com, www.Bioviva.com/us, www.Crispina.com, www.Kenanausa.com, www.Novanatural.com, www.Oompa.com, www.Playstoretoys.com, and www.Treeblocks.com.
Don’t let toxic toys get you down this holiday season. If you are still unsure of a specific toy while you are shopping, www.momsrising.org has developed a text message program to answer your questions while you shop. Just text 41411 with the message body: “healthytoys [search term]” with the search term being either the name of toy, type of toy, manufacturer, or retailer, and you will get an instant response with the toxicity of the product. For specific instructions, go to http://www.momsrising.org/NoToxicToys. And remember, when in doubt, it is always safest to buy eco-friendly products!

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1 http://www.uspirg.org/issues/toy-safety.
2 http://www.healthytoys.org/about.findings.php.  
3 http://www.uspirg.org/issues/toy-safety.





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1. 20-03-2011 06:49
Thanks for sharing! I posted this on my facebook page! :)
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