NJPIRG Tests Toys for Safety

November 26, 2013 | Health Care
Public interest group NJPIRG found high lead levels, choking hazards and toys that are too loud.

By Desirée Taylor
Senior Correspondent

Most children have a long holiday wish list. And there’s usually one favorite toy at the top.

“I want a red race car,” said a child.

“I want a barbie doll,” said a child.

“I want a Ninja Turtle for Christmas,” said one child.

These toys sound harmless. But how do you know if they’re safe? The New Jersey public interest research group NJPIRG displayed all kinds of toys — found on the shelves of big and small retailers. NJPIRG got them safety-tested at a lab. The result?

“This year we found a vinyl toy to contain 29 parts per million of lead. This toy violates federal standards for lead content by 29 times. It’s labeled for ages 2 and up,” explained NJPIRG organizer Gayle Schwartzberg. “We also found toy rings with lead paint in them ranging up to 200 parts per million, which exceeds the 90 parts per million standard for lead.”

NJPIRG claimed some other toys posed a possible threat to children’s hearing because they’re so loud. And despite a ban on small parts in toys for kids under the age of 3, NJPIRG found some still for sale on store shelves.

“We see all kinds of choking hazards. We see kids with either things in their nose or ears, getting stuck in their throat, see many of those types of injuries,” said Darrell Terry, Senior COO at Newark Beth Israel Hospital.

“To see toys for girls so small. Now I am aware of the safety for my girls,” said mother Tashell Adams.

Parents can also do a test at home. It may not be high tech, but you can do a small parts test with a toilet paper roll. If it falls through, it’s probably too small for a young child.

“You may see this toy is for 3-year-olds. You may say my kid is smarter. It’s not about intelligence. It’s about the small parts,” said Andrew Tucker the Special Assistant of the Division of Consumer Affairs.

NJPIRG says this annual report has led to more than 150 recalls over the past 28 years. Toy safety requirements have been improved in recent years. But NJPIRG wants them enhanced. The New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs says it’s doing its part to target those who break the rules. But it says the best defense is a well-informed parent.