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Bay Staters 'Better Watch Out' for Dangerous Toys

December 10, 2010

BURLINGTON, Mass. - It's the season for making kids' toy wishes come true, and local legal experts say when Bay Staters go shopping this weekend they should also be thinking about safety. A new report says 95 percent of the toys sold in the U.S. now come from abroad, and some of them would not receive a 'thumbs-up' for safety from Santa.

Massachusetts Academy of Trial Lawyers president Kim Winter suggests shoppers be on the lookout for hidden dangers.

"A lot of these toys contain tiny magnets and if they come out of the toys and they are swallowed, they can cause incredible problems with the intestinal tract."

According to a new American Association for Justice report, toy-related injuries have increased 54 percent over the last decade.

Winter also warns shoppers to also scrutinize foreign-made products like toy jewelry, which may contain lead, lead paint or chemicals that can cause cancer.

"The Chinese manufacturers, once they were taken to task on the lead issue, replaced lead with cadmium - and cadmium is number seven on the Top 10 list of cancer-causing materials."

Defective toys can be available for purchase for years, she adds. A Public Citizen analysis found that companies waited more than two years on average to inform the Consumer Product Safety Commission about defects, and then the agency took more than 200 days to inform the public.

"The federal government is so overwhelmed and understaffed; it's the lawyers organizations that are helping out by forcing these manufacturers to deal with safety issues."

The full report, "Playing with Safety: Dangerous Toys and the Role of America's Civil Justice System," is at www.justice.org.

Monique Coppola, Public News Service - MA