WASHINGTON, Nov. 20 (UPI) -- U.S. consumers should be able to trust the toys on store shelves are safe, but parents need to watch out for common hazards, a watchdog group warns.
The U.S. Public Interest Research Group released its 27th annual Trouble in Toyland survey, and while it noted progress had been made in making toys safer, toy hazards are still out there. It said small toy parts remain the major cause of toy-related deaths, with more than 200 children choking to death between 1990 and 2011.
U.S. PIRG said its reports have led to more than 150 recalls and other regulatory actions concerning unsafe toys.
Children can be injured from small parts that can cause choking risks, strangled by cords on pull toys, lacerated by sharp edges and endangered by exposure to toxic chemicals. The report at http://www.uspirg.org/reports/usp/trouble-toyland-2012 found:
-- Lead exposure from toys remains a serious risk to the brains of young children.
-- Magnets can be deadly if swallowed. The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimated there were 1,700 emergency room cases nationwide between 2009 and 2011 involving the ingestion of high-power magnets, nearly three-quarters age 4-12.
-- A car driving wheel on a console and a toy guitar exceeded the recommended limit for continuous exposure to noise above 65 decibels.
-- Several toys contain small parts that "might be mistakenly purchased for children under age 3." Choking on small toy parts such as marbles and balloons has resulted in hundreds of deaths over the past two decades.
The Toy Industry Association, which represents more than 500 U.S. manufacturers said, "Safety is our top priority all year," and this year's report is "another of its needlessly frightening reports."
"Its headlines cry for caution but the fine print clarifies that most of the products on their list actually comply with the strict toy safety standards that are already in place in the United State," CNN quoted Stacy Leistner, vice president of communications for the association, as saying in a statement. "Our companies are manufacturing to current regulations."