As holiday shopping heats up, Colorado research group details list of hazardous toys
By Victoria Barbatelli
The Denver Post
As Black Friday approaches and holiday lists start moving from top drawers to wallet pockets, CoPIRG's Trouble in Toyland hazardous-gift list can help make for a bright toy decision instead of a bad one.
Concerns for children include toys that could pose a choking hazard, toys that are excessively loud and those that contain toxic chemicals such as lead and phthalates, despite new toy-manufacturing regulations, according to the Colorado Public Interest Research Group's 2009 report.
To help keep track of dangerous toys and warn others about them, the PIRG foundation on Tuesday launched an interactive mobile-phone tool, toysafety.mobi, which shoppers can consult while at the store, and a website, toysafety.net.
The new app and website offer safety tips and list unsafe toys, in addition to providing a tab for reporting and alerting other parents about unsafe toys.
"If you don't see an official warning (label), don't purchase the toy," said Diana Nelson, owner of Kazoo & Co., a toy store in Cherry Creek North. "Use common sense."
Nelson says she has a strict policy about the toys she lets into her store — and those she selects for her family — that complies with the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, which passed last year. The act requires third-party testing of all goods for children under age 12 and also requires manufacturers to permanently label each item.
Officially tested products carry a federally mandated warning label that includes the word "WARNING" near an exclamation point inside of the triangle.
Although products in stores were supposed to be in compliance with the new law by Sept. 1, toys shelved before the deadline may not have been pulled, said Danny Katz, director of CoPIRG.
At a news conference Tuesday at Kazoo & Co., CoPIRG displayed an array of potentially dangerous toys that were purchased this month at major stores, including Target, Claire's Accessories and Toys "R" Us. They included some toys made by Playskool and Fisher-Price.
But absent the official warning symbols, there are some quick, at-home ways to assess safety, for example, the "toilet-paper-roll method" for checking whether a toy is a choking hazard.
"If the toy can fit inside the width of the cardboard, it's too small for kids under the age of 3," said CoPIRG consumer advocate Lisa Ritland.