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Mission Impossible: Safe Toy Shopping in VA?

November 27, 2007

Richmond, VA – The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission says it's the responsibility of Virginia parents to check toys for safety this holiday season. It's a big assignment, in light of the more than 20 million toys recently recalled. James Swartz with World Against Toys Causing Harm (WATCH) believes it's actually an impossible mission, because parents can't test for lead or dangerous chemicals.

"Because there's really no way to know, parents are very much relying on the government and toy industry to do the right thing."

Swartz believes every toy should be tested before it gets to store shelves. Right now, testing is done after the toy is on the market. He argues recalls are not effective, because once a product is sold, most are never returned as a result of a recall.

A new study (from Cornell University) shows even minute levels of lead can cause brain damage in children, further increasing the need for pre-market testing. Swartz says although parents have gotten pretty good at spotting obvious toy hazards, like choking or strangulation risks, but today there are plenty of less obvious safety hazards to worry about.

"With these other issues, such as the chemicals and lead, consumers understandably feel a bit helpless."

Swartz explains one of the most-hyped toys, "Aqua-Dots," has turned out to be so dangerous that it was added as Number Eleven to his "Top Ten" list of most hazardous toys of 2007.

The 2007 list of most dangerous toys can be found online, at

Deborah Smith/Kevin Clay, Public News Service - VA