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Ho ho no! Consumers warned about dangerous toys

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Updated: December 28, 2013 6:22AM

Hazardous toys are as easy to find as a child’s toy chest — for resale on Craigslist or for sale at a major retailer, child-safety advocates warned at a news conference Tuesday.

Though federal efforts have improved to stop dangerous toys at U.S. ports so they don’t enter the country, many such toys can be bought today at major retailers such as Toys “R” Us, Walmart, Kmart, Dollar Tree, Dollar General and other retailers, said Dev Gowda, of the Illinois Public Interest Research Group, at a news conference at Lurie Children’s Hospital.

That’s according to the safety experts who released this year’s list of toys that may cause children to choke or suffer harm.

Gowda held up a play cellphone as an example of a toy that exceeds federal noise-level standards and could hurt a child’s hearing. The advocacy group is urging federal regulators to adopt tougher standards, especially for toxic chemicals like lead and cadmium.

The Toy Industry Association issued a statement countering PIRG’s findings, saying “U.S. toy safety standards remain the most protective in the world.”

The association said families should take care to choose age-appropriate toys and ones that match their children’s interests.

Attorney General Lisa Madigan urged parents to educate themselves about recalled toys, as well as other products such as strollers and high-chairs. She cautioned that luxury stores could be selling a recalled stroller just as well as a dollar store.

“We’re also trying to educate people about the dangers of resale at sites such as and Craigslist,” Madigan said.

Parents should check for potentially hazardous and recalled toys at resources such as;; PIRG’s annual report, issued Tuesday, “Trouble in Toyland” at, and Madigan’s office’s safe shopping guide at .

The “Trouble in Toyland” report revealed:

◆ Toys with high levels of toxic substances are still on store shelves. PIRG found several toys with high lead levels, including a toddler toy with 29 times the legal limit of lead, 2900 parts per million, and play jewelry for children with twice the legal limit, 200 parts per million. The advocacy group also found an infant play mat with high levels of the toxic metal antimony, and a child’s pencil case with high levels of phthalates and cadmium.

◆ Despite a ban on small parts in toys for children younger than 3, toys can be bought in stores that pose choking hazards. Doctors urge parents to keep younger children away from any toy or toy part that can pass through a toilet-paper tube.

◆ Toys may be found at retail that are potentially harmful to children’s ears and exceed the noise standards recommended by the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.

◆ Small powerful magnets that pose a dangerous threat to children if swallowed are easily found on store shelves.

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