Toxic chemicals and choking hazards are available at a store near you this holiday season.

The 30th annual Trouble in Toyland report, released Tuesday by the New Jersey Public Interest Research Group, points to several toys on the shelves that are considered hazardous to a child’s health.

“Some of the most dangerous hazards that are posed by toys are invisible,” said the group’s Julius Moye, presenting the report’s findings at a children’s rehabilitation hospital in Vineland. “That’s because some of them contain toxic substances like the heavy metal chromium and chemicals called phthalates.”

The Slinky Jr., as an example, was found to contain more than 23 times the amount of allowable chromium. A jump rope purchased at Dollar Tree, the report said, tested at 10 times the legal limit of a banned phthalate known as DEHP.

potentially hazardous toys cited in NJPIRG'S Trouble in Toyland report
Potentially hazardous toys cited in NJPIRG'S Trouble in Toyland report. (Dino Flammia, Townsquare Media NJ)

And while there’s a ban on small parts in toys for children under three years of age, the survey still found several items that are considered to be a choking hazard but are not labeled as such.

Toys must be labeled as a choking hazard if any of its parts can fit into a nationally-used tool known as a choke test cylinder. With the cylinder on hand for Tuesday’s event, NJPIRG demonstrated that not all toys are properly labeled, but they’re still on the shelves.

The finger was also pointed at a number of Vtech products for the potential harmful risks they pose to a child’s hearing. NJPIRG noted the toys do not violate any federal standard but present concerning decibel readings at the ear and at a distance.

The toys listed in the report were purchased from Dollar Tree, Family Dollar, Five Below, Marshalls, Party City and Target. But it’s the toy manufacturers who are at fault, NJPIRG said.

According to the report:

    •  The Fun Bubbles jump rope from Dollar Tree had 10 times the legal limit of the banned phthalate DEHP (tested at 10,000 ppm), and also had 190,000 ppm of the toxic phthalate DIBP which has not yet been banned. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has proposed a rule that has not been finalized that would add DIBP to the list of banned phthalates.
    • Despite a ban on small parts in toys for children under the age of three, toys available in stores that still pose choking hazards. We found a fairy wand from Dollar Tree that has small parts that easily break off, but was not labeled as a choking hazard.
    • There were inadequate warning labels in the Disney Pixar Cars Riplash Racers and Disney Planes from Marshalls, G2 Air Mini Football and a Disney Finding Nemo Dory figurine from Five Below, and a Nickelodeon Mermaid Dora the Explorer from Target. These products may have labels suitable for foreign countries, but they were not sufficient to meet U.S. standards.
    • Small balls pose a hazard for young children who are inclined to put objects in or near their mouths. Magic Towels packaged as a small baseball and a small football at Dollar Tree did not have the appropriate small ball warning label.
    • Balloons pose the most serious choking hazard to children in the U.S. All of the balloon packages found did include the required warning label reading that children under 8 can choke on balloons and balloon parts. However, three balloon sets from Party City included a second, confusing label indicating that the products are for children ages 3 and older: the Balloon Animal Kit, Mega Value Pack 16 Latex Punch Balloons, and Mega Value Pack 12 Water Bomb Packs.
    • Several toys were potentially harmful to children’s hearing. The Vtech Go! Go! Smart Wheels, Vtech Go! Go! Smart Animals, Vtech Spin & Learn Color Flashlight, Fisher Price Click n Learn Remote, and Leap Frog Fridge Phonics Magnetic Letter Set from Target, while they don’t violate federal standards, were found to be extremely loud at the ear and at a distance.
    • Small, powerful magnets pose a dangerous threat to children if swallowed. Sizzlers noise magnets from Family Dollar, and Singing magnets from Dollar Tree have “near-small-parts” that don’t violate federal standards, but are small enough to be swallowed and can cause severe internal damage.



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