Consumer group reveals dangerous toys on store shelves

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX -- Dr. Kathy Graziano, a trauma surgeon at Phoenix Children's Hospital, sees toy-related injuries on a regular basis.

"At least once a week we’ll take something out of an airway," she said.  

Graziano spoke Tuesday at a presentation for the Arizona Public Interest Research Group. The national PIRG released its 27th annual "Trouble in Toyland" survey of toy safety.  

The group tested about 200 toys for toxic chemicals and potential choking hazards. It also tested decibel readings on excessively loud toys that could cause hearing damage.  

The group found fewer dangerous toys this year than in years past.  

"There are a lot of safe toys out there,” said Monica Flores with the Arizona PIRG. "We just encourage parents to really research, to do their own independent research."  

A toy food play set was singled out by the group as containing small parts that a young child could choke on.  

"Children might think these toys are intended to be put in their mouths," Flores said.  

Only one toy, a Morphobot action figure, contained dangerous levels of lead. The group also tested toys for toxic phthalate chemicals which have been linked to adverse health effects.  

"Phthalates are used to make plastics softer and have been linked to adverse developmental and reproductive health," Flores said.  

No toys had phthalate levels that exceeded the federally mandated maximum, but a cartoon backpack had levels high enough that would require a warning label in California and Washington.

Arizona law does not require such a warning.  

The PIRG reports its findings to the Consumer Product Safety Commission each year, though the CPSC is not bound by the findings.  

Graziano had additional warnings for parents outside of the findings from PIRG. She feels magnets and small batteries are particularly dangerous for small children.  

"A button battery will stick to the lining of the esophagus and will start to erode through," she said.

A complete copy of the report can be found at