In view of the proliferation of bad toys in the market that could either expose children to chemical and physical hazards, parents and other toy givers have to contend with various issues involving the safety of toys.
Consumers also need to be extra vigilant against toys that do not carry the required quality and safety labels.
Buyers need to pay close attention to correct and adequate product information and to be protected against toys that are hazardous to health or life.
Consumers are further advised to take precaution against toys made with polyvinyl chloride (PVC) like rattles, squeeze toys, teethers and other items that children tend to put into their mouths, PVC contains phthalates , a class of dangerous chemical additives known for their carcinogenic, mutagenic and reprotoxic effects.
The European Parliament in 2005 banned six type of phthalates in the manufacture of toys because of their adverse impacts on children’s health.
It will be recalled that millions of toys were pulled from the shelves this year by the US Consumer Product and Safety Commission mainly because of choking hazards and high lead content.
Exposures to lead, a heavy metal found in the paint coatings of some toys, can poison vital organs and lead to lower IQ, reading and learning disabilities, speech and language problems and mental retardation among children.
Last August 2007, Mattel, the world’s largest toy company pulled out some 21 million toys including Barbie dolls, accessories and toy cars after concerns in lead paint and tiny magnets that could be swallowed that came about.
Last November 2007, Moose Enterprises in Australia issued a recall of “Bindeez” toys known as “Aqua Dots” in the United States. The toys were said to contain the drug Gamma Hydroxybutyric Acid (GHB), an anesthetic use as a date rape drug.
The recall came after some children were hospitalized after ingesting the beads. Reports said the factory that made the toys substituted a cheap toxic chemical in the production of the toys. Prior to that incident, “Bindeez” was declared as Australia’s toy of the year this year.
“Aqua Dots” is an art toy that allows a player to arrange color beads and fuse them together with water. The problem is that scientists found out that the beads contain a chemical that the human body metabolizes into the so called date rape drug.
When eaten, the compound made from common and easily available ingredients can induce unconsciousness, seizures, drowsiness, coma and death. The toy is aimed at kids age four and older.
More toys were recalled by US authorities late this year due to unsafe levels of lead. toys that were recalled include “Dizzy Ducks”, music boxes, Winnie the Pooh spinning tops, “Big Red” wagons, Dragster and Funny car toys, Duck Family Collectible wind up toys and die cast vehicles featuring the surge character from the movie “Cars”.
Because of the series of toy recalls, American lawmakers have proposed legislation that would ban lead on toys and give more funding for the US Consumer Product Safety Commission for testing, recalls and reinforcement.