Trouble in Toyland: Toys deemed dangerous this holiday season


by MELISSA MAHADEO / KVUE News and photojournalist MICHAEL MOORE

Posted on November 20, 2012 at 6:28 PM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 20 at 10:15 PM

AUSTIN -- It's that time of year, but before you head out to buy the most popular toys this season, you may want to check if they are safe for your kids.

The Texas Public Interest Research Group's latest report, Trouble in Toyland, details current toys deemed unfit for your little ones. This year there is a special focus on magnets.

TexPIRG said between 2009 and 2011, the Consumer Public Safety Commission estimated 1,700 emergency room cases nationwide involving swallowing magnets. More than 70 percent of those involved children between the ages of four and 12.

“There have been close to 2,000 cases of magnets and emergency rooms visits from swallowing magnets and things like that,” Ilya Slavinski with TexPIRG said.

“Particularly building toys have very strong small magnets that if swallowed can cause really serious injury to a child,” Dr. Lisa Doggett with University of Texas Family Wellness Center said. “We can’t assume that every toy out there is safe.”

Manufacturer labels dictate the appropriate age to use a toy, but Dr. Doggett said to remember some toys come with multiple parts -- parts that may be especially small and easy for a child to to swallow or choke on.

According to the report, between 1990 and 2011, over 200 children died from choking incidents.

Dr. Doggett understands being cautious purchasing toys this season because she has a seven year old of her own to protect. She said items like balloons are a good example of age appropriate toys. Balloons can be found everywhere and are popular items but can be unsafe for a small child. She said almost one-third of child choking incidents involve balloons.

Dr. Doggett recommends inspecting toys close-up before giving them to children.

“We bought a pretend doctor kit for my daughter and opened it and removed about three pieces from it because they weren’t safe,” she said.

TexPIRG has also issued a warning for toys that are especially loud. They said loud toys can cause hearing loss in children if they are too young to use them. Unfortunately they said there is no official way to tell if a toy is too loud. They said as a parent, if it is too loud for you, it's too loud for your child.

The report also warned parents to be wary of lead or phthalates in toys. TexPIRG warned exposure to lead can affect almost every organ in the body.

To download the entire report go to

To view TexPIRG’s mobile website with additional information for shopping this season, go to on your smartphone.

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