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Despite toy safety progress, parents need to be aware

By Alana Miller
Program Associate

Holiday shopping season is upon us once again. As a parent, relative, or friend, shopping for toys for the children in your life can be a challenge.

We don't always know if the gifts will be a hit but the one thing we count on is that the toys we purchase are safe.  Thanks to the hard work of agencies like the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and consumer advocates like U.S. PIRG that's largely true.  But as our toy shopping researchers have found, that's not always the case.
 
Each year, PennPIRG publishes a report, "Trouble In Toyland," that highlights a sampling of unsafe toys, ones we found in a survey of toy stores across the country. Over the past 25 years, the findings of our report have paid off, leading to more than 100 recalls and millions children's products pulled from store shelves.  The findings also provided valuable evidence in support of the need for a 2008 law that gave the CPSC more authority to crack down on manufacturers and importers of dangerous toys. 
Despite important progress, parents need to be aware of ongoing hazards and be on the lookout for unsafe products. More than 250,000 American children made trips to the emergency room in 2009 due to toy-related injuries. Toy safety should not be a political or partisan issue.  I have yet to hear any policy maker argue 'caveat emptor' (let the buyer beware) as it relates to toddlers.  That is why it is all the more shocking to see new, sweeping attacks in Congress on some of the most basic health and safety protections for young children as well as the broader public.

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