Business
3:11 pm
Tue November 20, 2012

Magnets, choking hazards top annual report on dangerous toys

As parents gear up to shop for the holidays, a non-profit consumer group is warning them to watch out for dangerous toys.

For the past 27 years, the Washington Public Interest Research Group, or WashPIRG, has released a report on toxic and hazardous toys. This year, the group is pointing to many toys that meet federal standards but still pose a danger.

A Dora the Explorer toy guitar, for example, doesn’t violate any federal standards, but WashPIRG says it’s too noisy. They say it’s louder than levels recommended by the National Institute of Deafness.

WashPIRG says the federal government has made a lot of progress regulating toys in the past few years – cracking down on lead and hazardous chemicals called phthalates, for example.

But WashPIRG organizing director Marc Walsh says toy standards need to be even tougher. He says plastic miniature toy food can still cause choking even if it meets the current standard. Until the government tightens that regulation, he recommends that parents check whether a toy fits inside a toilet paper roll.

"And if the toy fits in the toilet paper roll, we recommend that it’s not suitable for children ages 3 or under," Walsh said.

Magnets are another danger. If a kid swallows two of them, they can cling together tearing through internal organs. According to WashPIRG’s report, from 2009 to 2011, 1,700 people were treated in emergency rooms for swallowing magnets. WashPIRG would like to see stricter federal standards on magnets.