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Published: Wednesday, 11/27/2013

Tiny, toxic toys endanger kids, Ohio Public Interest Research Group group warns

JEB PHILLIPS
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

A Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles pencil case — the one with “This Is Epic!” written on it — didn’t fare well in the annual toy-safety study released yesterday.

The case has eight times more cadmium, a toxic metal, than federal rules seem to allow, according to testing by the Ohio Public Interest Research Group and its affiliates. It has 150 times more DEHP, a chemical used in plastics and vinyl, than the rules for toys permit.

But the case doesn’t actually violate the rules. First, it’s not classified as a toy, even though it can be bought at toy stores, said Bryan Stewart, an associate with the research group.

Second, the government measures cadmium in surface coatings only, not the entire item.

Still, the research group is warning holiday shoppers to be careful of the pencil case and other products that could be dangerous to children.

“Some of the dangerous hazards posed by toys are invisible,” Stewart said.

The research group released its annual “Trouble in Toyland” report yesterday at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

The hospital does not participate in the group’s toy survey but does encourage the group’s focus on protecting kids, said Tracy Mehan, manager for translation research at the hospital’s Center for Injury Research and Policy.

“When toy manufacturers design and package a toy, and when a parent purchases a toy and wraps it up as a gift, they’re thinking about how excited the child is going to be when they open that toy,” Mehan said. “Unfortunately, here at the hospital, we often look at toys a little bit differently.”

The announcement focused on four categories of potentially dangerous toys: toxic toys, toys with magnets that cause internal damage, toys that pose choking hazards and toys that are so loud they can affect hearing.

The report lists 20 toys that fall into those categories but makes clear that others on the market do, too.

Parents can do their own make-shift research, Stewart said. If a toy or toy part fits inside the empty tube of a toilet-paper roll, it may pose a choking hazard to a child younger than 3.

Popular musical holiday cards are often powered by button-shape batteries that are easily swallowed, Mehan said. Keep them away from young children, she said.

Those sorts of tips can help families have a less-stressful holiday season.

“We need to protect our littlest consumers from unsafe toys,” Stewart said.

The entire report, including the list of unsafe toys, can be found at www.ohiopirg.org.

jeb.phillips@dispatch.com

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©2013 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)

Visit The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio) at www.dispatch.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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Topics: t000002827,t000003813,t000184889,t000412858



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