Trouble In Toyland

34th Annual Toy Safety Report

Over the past 33 years, our annual reports have led to more than 150 recalls of unsafe toys, inspired legislation like the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, and empowered parents to take key actions to ensure toys are safe.

2019 TOY SAFETY SURVEY: WHAT WE FOUND
add
Choking hazards still common

READ MORE

Choking hazards still commonclose

In the last year, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recalled Ubbi Connecting Bath Toys and hundreds of thousands of wooden vehicles sold by Target. Small toys and break-off toy pieces like these can pose a choking hazard to young kids. Video: Learn how to identify choking risks for children.

add
Toys not meant for young children

READ MORE

Toys not meant for young childrenclose

In just over a month, two doctors at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland, OR, removed 54 small magnets from four children. Small, powerful magnets used in toys like construction sets, educational tiles and sculpture kits can cause serious harm and even death when swallowed. Keep them away from your young kids.

add
Toxics in slime and paint

READ MORE

Toxics in slime and paintclose

We found boron (an element part of borax) exceeding European Union safety standards in four out of four slimes tested. The mixing agent for the DIY 3-Pack of Rainbow Cosmic Slime Shakers contained 75 times the standard and no clear warning label not to ingest.

add
Privacy-invasive "connected" toys

READ MORE

Privacy-invasive "connected" toysclose

In the past, “smart toys” like the My Friend Cayla doll or the Furby Connect have recorded children’s voices or kept histories of the data they entered. Smart toys that operate over non-secure networks can collect and store this information, leaving it vulnerable to hackers.

add
Cadmium and lead in toys

READ MORE

Cadmium and lead in toysclose

An investigation by the Wall Street Journal found two musical instruments with illegal levels of lead for sale on Amazon. The Washington Attorney General found children’s jewelry with cadmium above the federal legal limit.

add
Recalled toys still available online

READ MORE

Recalled toys still available onlineclose

The last line of defense against hazardous toys is the recall system, which removes illegal toys from the market. Unfortunately, these toys can remain on resale sites or in children’s hands because parents are unaware of the recall. We were able to purchase INNOCHEER’s Kids Musical Instrument Set and VTech’s Musical Elephant Shaker more than a year after they were recalled.

We’ve come a long way, but there is more to be done

While stronger safety standards have significantly reduced the number of dangerous toys for sale, problems remain. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, hundreds of thousands of children go to the emergency room every year for toy-related injuries. This year’s Trouble in Toyland report identifies three categories of hazards in toys: detectable dangers, hidden toxics and recalled toys.

We need to push for new and stronger safety standards

Small, powerful magnets used in various toys, including construction sets, educational tiles and sculpture kits can cause serious harm and even death when swallowed. Since a ban on these powerful magnets was overturned in 2016, they pose an ongoing threat to children. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission should propose a new safety standard for these rare-earth magnets.

The U.S. currently has no limit or warning label requirements for boron in children’s products. Without warning labels, parents are unaware of the potential danger that popular slime products pose. Policymakers should require labeling for children’s products with high boron concentrations and consider setting new health-based standards.

We need to make our recalls more effective

Since last year’s Trouble in Toyland report, 12 more toys were recalled due to a number of threats, including choking hazards, burn risks and more. Our recall system should require companies to directly notify customers through retailer partnerships, engage in recall marketing campaigns equivalent to those that sold the product, and directly notify child care centers of recalled products potentially being used in their facilities.

TOY SAFETY TIPS

When toy shopping for the kids in your life, use this guide to help avoid toxics and other dangerous toys.

Toys with sound

What to watch for If a toy is too loud for you, it could be loud enough to damage your child’s hearing. Turn off the sound, remove the batteries or return the toy.

Slime

What to watch for Some slimes contain high levels of toxic boron. Consider making homemade alternatives without borax, or monitor your children at all times. If your child ingests a slime product, call Poison Control.

Fidget spinners and toys marketed to adults

What to watch for Some products, such as fidget spinners or children's makeup, are not classified as toys and avoid certain safety standards. These products could contain higher levels of lead, choking risks and other hidden dangers. Avoid these “toys,” or watch your kids closely while they play.

Toys with small parts

What to watch for Toys marketed to ages six and older may contain small parts that are choking hazards for younger children. Parents should check all toys for age guidelines. Before your child plays with a toy for the first time, see if smaller parts fit through a toilet paper roll — indicating they pose a choking hazard. Watch our video to learn how.

"Hatching" toys

What to watch for Toys with break-apart packaging can become choking hazards for small children. Monitor your child while they open the packaging and promptly dispose of the pieces.

Balloons

What to watch for Never let a child under three play with balloons, and monitor any child under 8, as balloons are the number one choking hazard for children.

Smart toys

What to watch for Sites, apps, games and smart toys may be collecting private data from your child and exposing their information to hackers. Consider running these smart toys without connections to the internet, evaluating privacy policies when you first activate them, and monitoring your child’s use. Check out this guide for more info.

Makeup

What to watch for We found asbestos in Claire's makeup last year. Makeup lacks necessary safety standards, which is why we recommend avoiding these products for children, or at a minimum purchasing alternatives without talc, as it can be a source of asbestos.

Toys with small magnets

What to watch for Swallowed magnets can cause serious internal damage by bunching together. Keep away from young children and monitor older children when they are playing with toys containing magnets.

Toy jewelry with toxic metals

What to watch for Cadmium is a toxic metal that can be used as a substitute for precious metals in inexpensive jewelry, including dress-up jewelry marketed to young children. If your child is under six, watch them carefully to confirm that they don’t swallow a piece of jewelry, chew on the item, or put it in their mouths. Also, consider avoiding cheaper, metallic jewelry that is imported.

Recalled toys sold secondhand

What to watch for Before using an old or pre-owned toy from an online marketplace, garage sale or passed down from a family member, parents should confirm that the product has not been recalled by visiting www.SaferProducts.gov.

Toys already in your home, school, or childcare facility

What to watch for A survey earlier this year by U.S. PIRG Education Fund found 1 in 10 surveyed childcare facilities still using recalled inclined sleepers, despite a heavily publicized recall. The same problem exists in the toy market, potentially to a greater extent, since many recalls receive less attention in the media, regardless of their risk.

ATTENTION ONLINE SHOPPERS

Age ratings and safety labels shown on websites may not match the labels on the toys. Make sure to examine the actual packaging when the products arrive.

 

MORE RESOURCES

SIGN UP
Get our toy safety tips in your inbox

Sign up for our email list and get our toy safety tips sent to your email inbox today. U.S. PIRG will keep you up to date with the latest actions, guides and resources.

Read the full report

Photo credits—Top Image: Nomad Soul / Shutterstock.com. Highlight boxes (clockwise): CSPC; Public Domain via Pixabay.com; Barbara Rayman via WikiMedia, Dragon Images via Shutterstock; Public Domain via Pixabay.com; Staff photo. Toy Safety Tip (top to bottom): Tatiana Popova / Shutterstock.com; somsak nitimongkolchai / Shutterstock.com; Ink Drop / Shutterstock.com; Anna Mente / Shutterstock.com; Public Domain CC0; Public Domain CC0; staff; Photo Spirit / Shutterstock.com; Oakozhan / Shutterstock.com; Public Domain CC0; staff photo; CSPC.