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New York Santas: Check The List Twice for Toy Safety



November 24, 2009

NEW YORK - Almost five million toys recalled this year, and yet the dangers are still lurking on toy shelves in New York as holiday shoppers fill their carts this week. This year's "10 Worst Toys" report from World Against Toys Causing Harm (WATCH) finds it's been an active year for toy recalls, with a lot of focus on lead and other toxic risks.

However, attorney James Swartz, who compiles the WATCH list each year, says the 2009 edition mostly involves strangulation, choking and projectile hazards for toys - some of them sold as "appropriate for all ages."

"The 'rugged mini' on the list and the 'mini babies in the bathtub' - these are things that are sold for babies. These small-parts hazards, or the puncture hazards, aren't evident when you look at the toy."

A Curious George counting book, X-Men action figure and a Disney rocket launcher also made the "worst toys" list, being published for the 37th time this year. Swartz says familiar names on toy packaging can mislead consumers who perceive those products to be safer. The Consumer Product Safety Commission recorded 10 deaths over the past two years of children who choked on toy parts.

Some toy companies have responded to the listing with updated safety information, and other toys listed in previous years have resulted in safety recalls.

Tracy Shelton, a consumer attorney with the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), says toy recalls are not all bad news.

"It's bad that they got manufactured and they got on the shelves in the first place, but the fact that they are being recalled is a good step in the right direction. Our toy reports have resulted in a lot of recalls and better legislation to regulate toys. "

Shelton says NYPIRG will issue its own annual report on statewide toy safety, "Trouble in Toyland," in the first week of December.

The full WATCH list is at toysafety.org.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NY