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PennPIRG Education Fund
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Harrisburg Patriot-News
By
Sue Gleiter

Consumer watchdog the Pennsylvania Public Interest Research Group announced this morning it’s better if some toys are never purchased for under the Christmas tree.

As part of the Harrisburg-based group’s 26th annual "Trouble in Toyland" report, PennPIRG released a list of toys purchased in stores that failed its tests for choking and chemical hazards and were deemed to be potentially harmful to children’s hearing.

In 2010, toy-related deaths to children younger than 15 increased to 17 fatalities reported, up from 15 reported in 2009, according to the Consumer Products Safety Commission. Nearly half were from choking on toys, small balls and balloons.

“Our whole goal is to show some things on the market are dangerous,” said the group’s spokeswoman Vanessa Wright.

The PennPIRG purchased a sample mix of toys which were then sent to a certified Environmental Protection Agency lab in Chicago for testing. The results?

A pair of plastic toy glasses contains 42,000 parts per million of phthalates — a chemical that poses developmental hazards for small children. That’s 42 times more than the maximum safe level of 1,000 ppm.

A “Little Hands Love” soft book contains seven times the amount of lead recommended for a product to be safe. And, a Hot Wheels Rat Bomb toy is deemed too loud at 93 decibels compared to the maximum level of 85 decibels.

The federal government revamped guidelines used by the CPSC in 2008, helping remove dangerous or poisonous toys from the market faster than before.

These safeguards, along with safety-conscious steps taken by many toy makers and sellers, have contributed to a continued decline in toy recalls since 2008. There were 34 toy recalls in fiscal year 2011, down from 46 toy recalls in 2010 and 50 recalls in 2009, according to the CPSC.

However, Wright said work still needs to be done. More than 80 percent of toys purchased in the United States are made in Asia.

“We believe if a toy comes from another country and meets their toxic standards, it should meet our toxic standards because we are the buyers,” Wright said.

For a full report, go to www.pennpirg.org and for a list of recalled toys go to toysafety.mobi.

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