Dangerous and toxic toys still on store shelves

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by JIM BERGAMO / KVUE News and Photojournalist ERIN COKER

Bio | Email | Follow: @JimB_KVUE

kvue.com

Posted on November 26, 2013 at 6:56 PM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 26 at 7:00 PM

AUSTIN -- They're the hottest new toys on the market, and they make your kids' eyes sparkle. However some of them are dangerous, and you may not even know it. 

That's why one Texas watchdog group is looking into dangerous or toxic toys that still make their way onto store shelves. As Americans prepare for the biggest shopping weekend of the year, there's this word of caution.

"The world's toy factory has moved from the North Pole to China," said U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett of Austin. "That's where most of the world's toys are made."

That makes it nearly impossible for any U.S. agency to inspect and evaluate the tens of thousands of toys coming into this country. But the Texas public interest research group is trying. It just released its 28th annual Trouble in Toyland report.

"Some of the most dangerous hazards posed by toys are invisible," said Thomas Visco, a TEXPIRG advocate.

Toys that contain harmful levels of toxins or heavy metals. Toys like the Lamaze Toy Mat.

"It has 900 parts per million of antimony, which is a toxic, carcinogen, heavy metal," said Visco. "The federal standard is 60 parts per million of antimony in any toy."

Then there are toys that can choke children.

"Regretfully we see that around Christmas every year," said Eric Higginbotham, M.D., the interim medical director at Dell Children's Medical Center.

Those cases ended in death twice last year at Dell Children's. Doctors say often toys appropriate for one age group are a danger to toddlers and babies who are more likely to swallow toys small enough to slide through a tissue roll.

Magnets are another concern.  Doctors say they pose unique health hazards if swallowed.

"Magnets have special properties especially if two are swallowed," said Visco. "They can damage the inside of the body in a way that a choking hazard could not."

The fourth and final category of concern are toys with high noise levels. Doctors say anything over 85 decibels can damage hearing at any age.

The Texas Public Interest Group says one of the most toxic toys it found is a Captain America soft shield. The item is hard to find, not because it's been removed from store shelves, but because it's sold out in most stores.

For a complete list of dangerous toys go here.

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