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Fewer Toy Recalls This Year, But Dangerous Toys Still Out There

There were 12 toy recalls this year, down from 172 in 2008. But thousands of kids still go to the ER with toy-related injuries.

If you are used to the annual holiday warnings about the dangers of toys, here's some good news: Toys have gotten safer.

There have been 12 toy recalls this year compared to 172 in 2008, the Consumer Product Safety Commission announced this week. While 19 of those recalls in 2008 were for toys containnig lead, there has only been one this year. 

That's not to say kids never get hurt from toys. In fact 166,200 kids went to the ER in 2018 because of toy-related injuries, the CPSC says, and 17 children younger than 15 died, mostly from riding toys or choking on small parts, balls or balloons.

But the overall trend has been positive. Even the people who put out the annual "Trouble in Toyland" report that names the year's most unsafe toys, notes how things have improved.

"Toys have become safer over the last three decades,” says Grace Brombach of U.S. PIRG Education Fund’s Consumer Watchdog, which released its Toyland report Thursday. “But dangerous and toxic toys remain on the market. With that in mind, parents need to be vigilant to keep their kids healthy and safe.”

Toys that pose risks

PIRG says these are some things to look out for when picking out a toy for Christmas or anytime of year:

  • Choking Hazards: Even a large brand like Target had to recall wooden toys this year because the wheels posed a choking risk. You can use a toilet-paper roll to test if a toy is too small for a young child.
  • Balloons: Here's something we didn't know: "Balloons are the primary cause of suffocation death in children," PIRG says. They recommend keeping balloons away from any kdis under eight and making sure popped balloons are thrown away quickly.
  • Magnets: Some puzzles or scuplture kits include strong magnets that can pose more than a choking risk if swallowed. PIRG says two doctors removed 54 such magnets from four children in a month.
  • Boron: PIRG found borax, which contains boron, in all four play slimes they tested. The chemical, which can cause nausea and vomting, was found in one slime at 75 times the safe level set in Europe, though the U.S. hasn't set a level for here.

PIRG also cautions that just because a toy is recalled doesn't mean you couldn't still come across it somewhere. They found two instances last year where they could buy toys that had been recalled. You can go to recalls.gov, which allows you to search for recalls from several government agencies, including ones for food, drugs, cars and other consumer products. 


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