This year’s survey of the most dangerous toys has turned up new hazards that are not always sold as toys. Magnets and watch batteries are causing concern among physicians in hospital emergency rooms.
The Trouble in Toyland report by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group comes out just in time for the holiday shopping season each year, and commonly includes cautions about choking and strangulation hazards.
The number of toys recalled for safety and toxicity hazards is actually declining, but this year the report has new concerns that pose a double-threat to children. And they’re easy to buy.
A quick Google search for magnet toys brings up a full page of items, everything from construction sets to puzzles and educational toys.
"These high-powered magnets are what’s problematic," said Tom Visco with the Texas Public Interest Research Group. Visco said some high-powered magnets, such as Sizzlers, which are referenced in the report, can do damage inside the child’s body.
"If the magnets get separated in the digestive tract, there’s a risk of them latching onto each other through the soft-tissue walls of the digestive tract. And that will eventually cause tears in the tract," Visco said.
Visco said noisy toys also are a concern in this year’s report because of the high number of children being diagnosed with hearing loss before they’re teenagers.
"The National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders advises that prolonged exposure to noise above 85 decibels will cause gradual hearing loss in any age range," Visco said. "And close-to-ear toys should not produce continuous sound that exceeds 65 decibels. We found toys that produce sound over 85 decibels that seem to be specifically designed for children to hold them close to their ears."
Visco said choking still represents one of the biggest hazards to kids. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has recalled 170,000 toys with choking hazards in the last year.
The Trouble in Toyland report is available online.