Parents beware – Toxic, hazardous toys widely available online

Posted on 11/22/2016

Palmetto Health Children's Hospital teams up with U.S. PIRG to offer tips and interactive tools to help consumers shop safely

Dangerous or toxic toys can still be found on numerous websites, according to U.S. Public Interest Research Group’s 31st annual Trouble in Toyland report. Palmetto Health Children's Hospital partnered with U.S. PIRG to release its report which reveals that despite recent progress, consumers must still be wary when shopping this holiday season. Over the years, the report has led to an estimated 160 recalls and other regulatory actions.

The report reveals the results of laboratory testing on toys for toxic chemicals including lead, cadmium, and phthalates, all of which can have serious adverse health impacts on the development of children. The survey also found small toys that pose a choking hazard and toy magnets that can cause serious injury if swallowed.

“We should be able to trust that the toys we buy for our children are safe. However, until that’s the case, we need to watch out for common hazards when shopping for toys,” said Jeff Holloway, M.D., a pediatrician and sports medicine specialist at Palmetto Health HealtHChildren’s Hospital. “Many of the recalled toys found in the report are being sold online.”

For 31 years, the U.S.PIRG Trouble in Toyland report has offered safety guidelines for purchasing toys for small children and provided examples of toys currently on store shelves that pose potential safety hazards. The group also provides a quiz to help educate parents and others about toy-related hazards.

“The continued presence of these hazards in toys highlights the need for constant vigilance by parents, grandparents and gift-givers to ensure that children do not end up playing with unsafe toys,” said Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital pediatrician Sara Sheehan, M.D., a Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital pediatrician. “We also want parents and toy shoppers to look carefully at toys they may already own and toys that are in the homes of friends and family
they may be visiting during the holidays.”

Key findings from the report include:

  • Toys with concentrations of toxins exceeding federal standards.
  • Despite a ban on small parts in toys for children under three, we found toys available in stores that still pose choking hazards.
  • We discovered small powerful magnets that pose a dangerous threat to children if swallowed.

Over the past eight years, stronger rules have helped get some of the most dangerous toys and children’s products off the market. Improvements made in 2008’s Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act tightened lead limits and phased out dangerous phthalates. However, not all toys comply with the law, and holes in the toy safety net remain.

For toys you already own:

  • Remove small batteries if there is any question over their security or inaccessibility and keep them out of reach of children;
  • Put small parts, or toys broken into small parts, out of reach. Regularly check that toys appropriate for your older children are not left within reach of children who still put things in their mouths.

“No child should ever get sick, be injured or die from playing with a dangerous toy,” said Holloway. “The Trouble in Toyland Report demonstrates the need for continued action to protect the health and wellbeing of children.”

About Palmetto Health Children's Hospital
Palmetto Health Children's Hospital is South Carolina’s first children's hospital and has more than 150,000 children’s visits each year. It offers more than 30 subspecialties to meet the unique health care needs of children and has central South Carolina's only Children’s Emergency Center. With more than 350 professionals who work exclusively with children, Palmetto Health Children's Hospital has a team of highly skilled and trained experts unmatched by any hospital in the Midlands. Palmetto Health Children's Hospital is the place to go for children's medical care, because the best care matters.

About U.S. PIRG
U.S. PIRG Education Fund offers an independent voice that works on behalf of the public interest .For more information about U.S. PIRG Education Fund or for additional copies of the report, please visit For more information about toy safety, visit


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