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Report: Toys to Leave at Store This Holiday Season

Parents should avoid buying toys with strong magnets. According to OSPIRG, in just over a month, Portland doctors recently removed 54 magnets that had been ingested by four children. (OHSU)
Parents should avoid buying toys with strong magnets. According to OSPIRG, in just over a month, Portland doctors recently removed 54 magnets that had been ingested by four children. (OHSU)
November 27, 2019

PORTLAND, Ore. – Choking hazards, hidden toxins and privacy concerns are among the dangers toy buyers should watch out for as the holiday shopping season begins, according to an annual report.

The 34th "Trouble in Toyland" report from the Oregon State Public Interest Research Group Foundation said there's been success making toys safer in the past few decades, but threats still linger on the shelves.

Charlie Fisher, state director of the OSPIRG Foundation, said parents can easily check whether a toy poses a choking hazard.

"They can actually test small toys for choking hazards using a toilet paper tube," he said. "So basically, just take the small part and drop it through the tube. If it goes through completely, it is likely a choking risk and should be kept away from children under the age of 3."

The report noted that wooden vehicles sold by Target were recalled this year for being choking hazards, and deflated balloons also pose a risk to kids younger than 8. Researchers also found that a number of toys contain high concentrations of toxic materials, including a slime product made with 75 times the level of boron acceptable under European Union standards.

Fisher said recalled toys lurk on the internet, but parents can check the website saferproducts.gov to see which ones have been taken off the market.

Another concern is strong magnets found in such items as construction sets, educational tiles and sculpture kits, which contain rare earth metals. The report said two doctors at a children's hospital in Portland recently removed 54 magnets from four children in just over a month. A ban on these magnets was overturned in 2016.

Fisher said the federal government could be doing more to protect kids from dangerous toys.

"We're giving advice to parents here," he said, "but it's really our analysis that it's incumbent upon the federal regulators and manufacturers to, further up in the supply stream, prevent these from getting on store shelves in the first place."

Cybersecurity is the newest threat from toys. The report advised parents and gift-givers that those so-called "smart toys" that connect to the internet often can collect and store data, leaving them vulnerable to hackers.

The report is online at uspirg.org.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - OR