Hazardous Toys: National Survey List

November 29, 1996, Washington, DC -- Hazardous toys can still be found on store shelves across the country, according to a nationwide toy safety survey released by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG). The annual PIRG reports have resulted in 48 recalls, enforcement actions or cited violations by the Consumer Project Safety Commission (CPSC) in the last nine years.

"Children are still needlessly choking to death on toys and dangerous toys can still be found on store shelves, despite stronger labeling requirements that went into effect two years ago," said Janice Shields, Consumer Research Director of the PIRGs.

The 1996 PIRG "Trouble in Toyland" report provides examples of dangerous toys discovered during a survey in October and November of stores across the country, where toys are sold. Dangers found include:

The CPSC reported 21 toy-related deaths in 1995, including 8 deaths from choking on balloons, an increase from 18 total deaths in 1994. According to National Electronic Injury Surveillance System data, more than 150,000 people were treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms for toy-related injuries in 1995. "Toys should bring children pleasure and joy," said Shields. "Instead, too often toys cause injuries and death," Shields added.

"Adult care givers, merchants and manufacturers, legislators, and regulatory agencies all have an important role in ending Trouble in Toyland," said Shields. "We commend manufacturers and merchants who obey both the intent and the letter of toy safety laws, but support increased enforcement activity by the CPSC and improved toy safety laws at the state and federal level to curtail injuries and deaths from dangerous toys," Shields added. For example, no standard exists for these cords on toddler's pull toys, even though the cords pose strangulation hazards.

The full 1996 "Trouble in Toyland" report is available for $10 from U.S. PIRG, 218 D Street, SE, Washington, DC 20003 or send an e-mail with the subject line "toy" to PIRG.

U.S. PIRG is a statewide nonprofit, nonpartisan consumer and environmental organization. PIRGS are active around the country.

The 1996 PIRG List of Dangerous Toys

PIRG researchers across the country surveyed stores in October and November 1996, looking for examples of dangerous toys. The surveyors identified a number of potentially harmful toys. The following list provides examples of toys that could pose hazards to children.

Do not assume that a toy that is not listed here is safe or can be used by a child without adult supervision. PIRG research focuses primarily on choking hazards -- toys that violate the small parts test or toys that may pose a choking hazard even though the toy does not violate the small parts test. CPSC regulations covering other dangers require more sophisticated testing procedures. Additionally, some hazards, such as the cord on a child's pull toy, currently are not regulated.

[Note: "CSPA" means the label complies with the 1994 law requirements for toys intended for children three or older.]

I. Toys that contain small parts that violated the CPSC choke test standard. These toys have play value for children under three, even though they may be labeled for children over three.

Product: Puppy Play House
Manufacturer: Talentoy, China
Label: CSPA
Hazard: small parts, play value for children <3

Battery-operated dog picks up puppies and places them on a roller coaster, then picks them up again when they reach the bottom and puts them back on the roller coaster. Each puppy fits in the 1.25 inch diameter choke tube (choke hazard).

Product: Disney's 101 Dalmatians Puppy Pal
Manufacturer: Arco Toys, Inc. (Mattel), Westbury, NY
Label: CSPA
Hazard: small parts, play value for children <3

Small stuffed Dalmatian with ball, bib and bottle. The ball and bottle each fit in the 1.25 inch choke tube (choke hazard).

Product: Impact Racer
Manufacturer: Zap/Lucky Quality Toys, China
Label: CSPA
Hazard: small parts, play value for children <3

Red truck towing purple racing car (colors may vary). Tires come off racing car and fit in 1.25 inch choke tube (choking hazard).

Product: Soft 'N Snug Doll Care Accessories
Manufacturer: Geoffrey, Inc., Dist. by Toys R Us, Paramus, NJ
Label: 2+
Hazard: small parts

Two empty baby bottles, pacifier, spoon, fork and cup. Nipples come off bottles and fit in 1.25 inch choke tube (choke hazard).

Product: Free Wheeling Dump Truck
Manufacturer: unknown, Hong Kong
Label: small parts, not recommended for children under 3 years of age
Hazard: small parts, play value for children <3

Green and yellow dump truck. Wheels come off and fit in 1.25 inch choke tube (choking hazard).

Product: Baby-in-a-Bottle
Manufacturer: unknown, China
Label: none
Hazard: small-part, play value for children <3

Small doll inside bottle. Nipple screws off bottle and fits in 1.25 inch choke tube (choking hazard).

Product: Nia Gift Set Dress Me Up Doll
Manufacturer: Integrity Toys, Inc., Jersey City, NJ
Label: CSPA
Hazard: small parts, play value for children <3

12 inch doll. Shoes and some accessories fit in 1.25 inch choke tube.

II. Balloons: The CSPA requires that all balloons be marked with a label explaining that they can be hazardous to children under 8 years of age.

Choking on balloons is a leading cause of deaths from toys. Animal and cartoon character balloons are attractive to very young children and should not be marketed.

III. Labeling Violations: Nonexistent or obsolete labels on products for children at least 3 years of age. (The CPSC allowed manufacturers to deplete old stocks of toy packages printed before the CSPA took effect on January 1, 1995.)

Product: Birthday Party Stamper Kit
Manufacturer: The Rubber Stamp Factory, Oakland, CA
Label: none
Hazard: small parts

Nine stampers with cartoon character pictures and ink pad. Stamps fit in 1.25 inch choke tube (choking hazard).

Product: Small Ball
Manufacturer: unknown, Taiwan
Label: none
Hazard: small ball

Small ball floating inside another ball, with pictures of bugs or eyeballs on inside ball. Ball is less than 1.75 inches in diameter (choking hazard).

Product: Fun Novelty Erasers
Manufacturer: unknown, China
Label: none
Hazard: small parts

Small, brightly colored erasers in the shapes of fruits, animals, flowers, candy, telephone. Erasers fit in 1.25 inch choke tube (choking hazard).

Product: Wooden Puzzles
Manufacturer: fraja, Germany
Label: in German only
Hazard: small parts

Brightly colored, 3-dimensional wooden puzzles of bears and fairy tale characters. Some puzzle pieces fit in 1.25 inch choke tube (choking hazard).

Product: Magic Capsules
Manufacturers: Creative Discovery/TMC
Label: Ages 5 & Up
Hazard: small parts

15 pill-size capsules that contain compressed small sponge animals in bright colors. Capsules dissolve in water and animals expand. Capsules fit in 1.25 inch choke tube (choking hazard). CSPA statutory warning label is needed.

Product: Lego System Trial Size Imagination
Manufacturer: Lego Systems, Enfield, CT
Label: Ages 3-12. Set contains small parts that are NOT suitable for children under 3 years of age.
Hazard: small parts

Lego pieces fit in 1.25 inch choke tube (choking hazard). CSPA statutory choking hazard label is needed. (Most Legos have CSPA warning. This and other items are old stock.)

Product: NBA Squirt Balls
Manufacturer: Pentech International, Inc., Edison, NJ
Label: WARNING: Contains Small Parts-Not Intended for Use by Children Under 4 years of age.
Hazard: small balls

Basketballs are less than 1.75 inches in diameter (choking hazard). CSPA statutory label for small balls is needed.

IV. Toys that do not violate the small parts standard but pose choking hazards because they contain small parts only slightly larger than the test cylinder.

Product: Chunky Rescue Set
Manufacturer: Shelcore Inc., U.K.
Label: 1+
Hazard: small parts

The pylons fit in the choke tube if they are pushed. The cone shape of the pylons would allow them to become caught in a child's throat and block the airway.

V. Other Hazards to Children: While these examples may not violate any specific CPSC rule, they are potentially dangerous toys.

Product: Soft Cow Pull Toy
Manufacturer: Osh Kosh B'Gosh, Eden, LLC, New York, NY
Label: 1+ years
Hazard: cord

The pull cord on this toy is 28 inches long. According to the CPSC, the ASTM's voluntary standard is a maximum of 12 inches and the CPSC believed the length of the cord shouldn't exceed 8 inches (strangulation hazard). No regulation exists.

Product: Big Fun Chuffa Puffa Train
Manufacturer: Tomy
Label: 1+ years
Hazard: cord

The pull cord is 39 inches long. According to CPSC, the ASTM's voluntary standard is a maximum of 12 inches and the CPSC believed the length of the cord shouldn't exceed 8 inches (strangulation hazard). No regulation exists.

Product: Little Snoopy
Manufacturer: Fisher-Price, Inc., East Aurora, NY
Label: Ages 1-3
Hazard: cord

The pull cord is 27 inches long. According to the CPSC, the ASTM's voluntary standard is a maximum of 12 inches and the CPSC believed the length of the cord shouldn't exceed 8 inches (strangulation hazard). No regulation exists.

Product: Catchin' Shark Game
Manufacturer: unknown, China
Label: CSPA
Hazard: sharp edges

Sharks have pointed teeth (laceration hazard).

Product: Stomp Rocket
Manufacturer: The D&L Company, Porterville, CA
Label: CSPA; Do not aim at eyes or face. Never aim at others or pets. Never attempt to fire any projectiles other than Stomp Rocket products.
Hazard: projectile

Air-fired plastic "rocket" can travel 400 feet.

Source: U.S. Public Interest Research Group, 218 D Street, SE, Washington, DC 2003, 202-546-9707.

Courtesy of Women's Connection Online