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What Parents Need to Know About Toy Safety

All parents want to protect their children from the potential harms posed by dangerous and defective products. This includes children’s toys. While the federal government does enforce certain toy safety standards, these rules often do not go far enough. In many cases it is up to outside advocacy groups and victims filing personal injury lawsuits to expose and force changes to dangerous toy industry practices.

CPSC, PIRG Caution Parents on Toy Hazards

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is responsible for overseeing federal toy safety standards. CPSC requires any toy “intended for use by children 12 and under” to be tested by a third party certified by the agency. While these standards cover many areas of safety, they are not all inclusive. For example, the CPSC does not require third-party testing of flammability.

Despite testing and safety requirements, the CPSC estimates there are more than 250,000 toy-related injuries sustained by children every year. And more than three dozen toys are recalled each year for safety defects. These statistics highlight the fact there are important gaps in the government’s toy safety net.

The U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), a nonprofit consumer education and advocacy group, has tracked the government’s toy safety efforts for the past 30 years. In its most recent toy safety report, PIRG identified a number of critical areas where toy safety is lax:

  • PIRG said at least three toys on the market contain chromium, a chemical that can cause “severe allergic reactions” and which have been tied to cancer.
  • PIRG noted a popular jump rope toy contains “10 times the legal limit” of a banned chemical type called phthalates. PIRG noted phthalate exposure can be especially harmful to young boys, as it can “harm development of the male reproductive period” and possibly cause the early onset of puberty.
  • Magnets contained in toys are an often overlooked swallowing hazard. “When two or more powerful magnets are swallowed,” PIRG said, “they can have fatal health consequences as their attractive forces draw them together inside the body, perforating intestinal walls.” Although CPSC has banned the sale of many magnet-based toys, PIRG said parents may still purchase such items from foreign websites.
  • Many toys produce “excessive noise” which can hurt the hearing of young children. PIRG identified five toys sold to children under the age of three that may be “either at or slightly above the decibel standards recommended for close-to-the-ear toys.”

In addition to supporting greater federal enforcement, PIRG advised parents to “examine toys carefully for hazards” before buying them and “don’t trust that they are safe just because they are on a store shelf.”

Get Help from a Product Liability Attorney

While no parent can protect their child against all potential hazards, it is important to remain vigilant when it comes to toy safety. And if you believe your child has been hurt due to a defectively designed or marketed toy, you should speak with an experienced Tennessee product liability attorney. Contact the offices of Fox, Farley, Willis & Burnette, Attorneys at Law, in Clinton or Knoxville if you need to speak with someone right away.

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