Since we don’t have the advantage of being able to test for potentially dangerous chemicals in kids’ toys, it’s fortunate that others do – and will give us the results. Each year, the Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) publishes Trouble in Toyland, the report of an investigation into the safety of children’s toys. They go to stores, get lab reports, check recalls (their research has led to more than 150 recalls), and let us know what we definitely should not buy for our kids. They also give us guidance on what we should buy.
Following the most recent President’s Cancer Panel Report – which focused on the relationship between chemicals and cancer – Trouble in Toyland’s focus this year was on chemicals (although things that can be choked on are included as well – always an issue). Their list of what toys not to buy is in the Trouble in Toyland report (very worth reading all the way through), but you can get also a quick look on their Unsafe Toy List 2010.
There are only eight unsafe toys on the list, but they are definitely very popular items likely to attract many buyers and kids – including you, and yours. Check the list for the names, photographs, and so on.
What does PIRG recommend?
Avoid PVC/vinyl toys and brightly colored plastics.
Stay away from toys with small parts and from toys small enough for kids to choke on if they put it in their mouths. This includes small balls and balloons, which can completely block your child’s airway and suffocate them.
Choose toys made with unpainted wood and other natural materials like wood or cotton.
Anything colored should be verified as having used nontoxic dyes or paints.
Don’t buy costume jewelry for kids. It usually contains lead or other harmful chemicals.
Knowing your child will be safe with the toys you select for the holidays makes giving even more fun.