Since January 2015, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), in cooperation with manufacturers and distributors, has announced more than 40 recalls of toys and children’s products totaling more than 35 million units. We found that over a dozen recalled toys may be available for sale. Check out our guide to help you identify dangerous toys still available through online retailers, on store shelves or that may already be in your home.
Exposure to lead can be especially damaging for children. Even low levels of lead in children’s bloodstreams have been shown to undermine IQ, attentiveness, and academic achievement. Exposure to phthalates, or chemicals that make plastics stronger and more flexible, may harm reproductive developmental in young males and is linked to early puberty. Skin contact with chromium—a metal compound often plated to form attractive coverings—can cause severe allergic reactions including skin redness, swelling, and ulcers. When inhaled or consumed, chromium compounds are also known to cause cancer.
Choking is the leading form of toy-related death. Mouthing or biting objects—especially toys—is a normal part of the developmental process. Young children, particularly those three and under, can choke on small parts and small balls less than 1.75 inches in diameter. Balloons, which are responsible for more choking deaths among children than any other toy, can be easily inhaled in attempts to inflate them.
When two or more powerful magnets are swallowed, they can have fatal health consequences. Their attractive forces can cause obstructions or pinching, or trapping intestinal walls or other digestive tissue. In extreme cases, the magnetic attraction can perforate intestinal walls. Between 2009 and 2013, the CPSC estimates that high-powered magnets caused approximately 2,900 emergency room-treated injuries. Since 2015, the CPSC has recalled three toys for magnet hazards. We purchased one such toy, a pencil box (above, left), online for this report.
In the United States, burns and fires are leading causes for unintentional deaths and injuries to children. The lithium-ion battery packs in self-balancing scooters, also called hoverboards, can overheat, posing a risk of the products smoking, catching fire, or exploding. More than half a million units were recently recalled due to this risk.
Cracks and sharp edges can pose a laceration hazard to children and consumers. Overinflated bike tires can cause wheel rims to crack and send pieces of the plastic rim flying (left), and die-cast metal cars can have sharp edges (right), both of which pose laceration hazards.
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