Wednesday Morning News Roundup
State Senator Leno, Assemblymember Chiu Laud CALPIRG Report Championing Safer Toys
California State Senator Mark Leno and State Assemblymember David Chiu joined health care professionals and a public interest research group Tuesday to urge parents to be on the lookout for unsafe toys.
In the California Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG) Education Fund’s 30th annual Trouble in Toyland report, released Tuesday, researchers determined that there are still toys with potentially high levels of toxic substances and other safety hazards that remain on store selves despite laws prohibiting their sale.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission, the federal agency responsible for recalling toys and other products deemed dangerous, says they continue to see toys with excessive levels of lead and phthalates, as well as small parts.
“Thankfully, these toys never reach the hands of kids,” states the CPSC website. However, Corinne Santoro, a campaign organizer with CALPIRG, discussed the report’s findings Tuesday at the University of California at San Francisco Medical Center. She explained that while the number of toy
recalls is down since the passage of the 2008 Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, not all toys comply with the law and that there are still holes in the toy safety net. She noted that not all toys that are on U.S. shelves are tested or analyzed by the CPSC.
Santoro said CALPIRG identified 22 potentially hazardous toys on store shelves this year, four that may pose toxic hazards, two with magnets that may pose ingestion hazards, five that may pose noise hazards and 11 that may pose choking hazards.
The CPSC maintains that since 2008, the U.S. government has stopped more than 17 million units of roughly 6,200 toys from coming into the U.S. because they violated applicable standards, and in fiscal year 2015, CPSC issued only 25 toy recalls, down from 172 in 2008.
Santoro said toys have gotten much safer over the 30 years that CALPIRG has been releasing the report and since the passage of the 2008 Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, but she warned that toys such as the Slinky Jr., which CALPIRG purchased at Target for $1 and had tested at a CPSC-approved lab, revealed high levels — 1,400 parts per million (ppm) — of the heavy metal chromium. The law allows for toys to have 1,000 ppm of chromium. According to the Center for Disease Control, skin contact with chromium can cause skin ulcers, allergic reactions consisting of severe redness and swelling of the skin. The CDC’s website states, “We do not know if exposure to chromium will result in birth defects or other developmental effects in people. Some developmental effects have been observed in animals exposed to chromium.”
Another toy, the Fun Bubbles jump rope, which CALPIRG purchased from a Dollar Tree store and also had analyzed at a CPSC-approved lab, had 10 times the legal limit for phthalate DEHP, at 10,000 ppm. According to the CDC, Phthalate DEHP exposure has the potential to cause damage at crucial stages of development, including adverse development of the male reproductive system. It could also potentially be a human carcinogen. The jump rope had 19,000 ppm of phthalates DIBP, a material that
has not yet been banned, but is on the CPSC’s list of phthalates that they have proposed to be banned, according to CALPIRG.
State Senator Leno applauded CALPIRG for producing the report and highlighting the dangers that still exist in toy stores. Leno said that prior to 2008, roughly 20 million units of toys were recalled each year, and in 2014 that number was down to 2.7 million toys. Leno said products that make it onto U.S. shelves must be properly labeled so consumers can make informed choices. He said that without proper labeling, “all the laws in the world are really useless because we don’t know what’s safe and what’s not for particular age groups,” he said.
Santoro said that in addition to harmful materials being used in the manufacture of toys, there are also toys on the shelves that pose choking hazards. From a fairy wand found at a Dollar Tree store, Santoro popped off a fake diamond, slightly smaller than a young child’s airway, with ease. She noted that the shiny object was affixed to the wand with only a small dot of glue. She said other toys with small parts found by CALPIRG were mislabeled or had missing labels, including balloons found at a Party City store that incorrectly stated that it was appropriate for children over the age of three.
Additionally, CALPIRG highlighted the danger of loud toys and of magnetic toys if swallowed by children. Santoro said some of the toys highlighted in the report may need to be recalled, but said it was ultimately up to the CPSC to make that decision.
California State Assemblymember Chiu said Tuesday that as an expecting father, the issue of toy safety is very personal to him. He said his child is due in March and that he strongly believes that toys shouldn’t pose a health threat to families. He said families shouldn’t be alarmed, but said that when out
shopping on Black Friday and throughout the holiday season, they need to be careful about their toy purchases.
Dr. Israel Green-Hopkins, a physician who specializes in pediatric emergency medicine at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital underscored the need for many of the safety measures highlighted in CALPIRG’s report. Green-Hopkins said choking hazards are the main cause of toy-related deaths among children. He said young children can’t be held accountable for being ignorant about the safety of a toy but companies and lawmakers can, and should, be held accountable. The full list of toys deemed unsafe by CALPIRG this year can be viewed online at toysafetytips.org.
SF Bay Area Weather Report
Today will be partly cloudy with highs in the mid 50s. There’s a chance of showers in the morning. Northwest winds will range from 5 to 10 miles per hour.
Tonight will be partly cloudy in the evening before it becomes mostly clear. Lows will be in the mid 40s. Southeast winds will only reach up to 5 miles per hour, becoming northeast winds after midnight.
Thursday will be sunny during the day with highs in the mid 50s and lows in the lower 40s. Northeast winds will be 5 to 15 miles per hour.