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Report: Toy Safety Checks Too Complicated for Santa?

December 20, 2010

CHEYENNE, Wyo. - Santa's toy safety checklist has become more complicated. Choking hazards and projectile injury risks can often be identified with a closer look, but the most common dangers in toys these days cannot be seen without chemical testing and a microscope. That's according to a new study from the American Association for Justice (AAJ).

Cheyenne attorney Terry Mackey says hidden dangers can be the most harmful, whether they are lead, cadmium or other toxins. He adds that, since most toys are imported, the chain of responsibility is twisted.

"When your buyers are out there and they're relying upon the manufacturers in various foreign market places, they're relying upon a far less sophisticated system in terms of enforcement of the rules and regulations."

The AAJ report cites federal findings that toy-related injuries are up 54 percent over the last 10 years.

Lois Gibbs with the Center for Health, Environment and Justice is calling for toy companies and retailers to step up safety through more testing - and by rejecting products that contain toxins. Her organization is specifically concerned about the prevalence of PVC in children's products, she says.

"Youngsters' developing brains and bodies, their metabolism, their behaviors, make them uniquely vulnerable to the harm from toxic chemicals."

The report makes the case that the civil justice system plays an important role as a toy-safety watchdog because federal safety programs cannot test every product. Mackey, a member of the Wyoming Trial Lawyers Association, represented the family of a child who was seriously injured by hidden magnets in a Polly Pocket toy.

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

Deb Courson, Public News Service - WY