Ruth to the Rescue: Toy safety warning

Toy safety has been improving, but parents warned to beware

DETROIT - The Public Interest Research Group in Michigan (PIRGM) has released its 27th Annual "Trouble in Toyland" report.

While this year's edition says toy safety is improving, it's also encouraging parents to be in the lookout for common hazards to the health and safety of children.

We need to protect America's littlest consumers from unsafe toys," Said Meghan Hess, a program associate at PIRGM.

At a press conference on November 20th, she outlines four safety concerns that parents should know about: choking hazards, magnets in toys, noisy toys, and toxic chemicals.

Hess said choking hazards are the leading cause of toy recalls. "We all know toddlers put everything on their mouths," she said.

While there are national safety standards designed to keep children away from products that are so small they could pose a choking hazard, Hess suggests parents use a toilet paper tube to put products to the test in their homes. If the toy fits through the tube- you child can choke on it.

"We're particularly concerned about these toy foods because obviously kids might that that they're intended to be eaten," she added. 

Lead and Chemical Danger

The public interest group went looking for high lead levels and found one action figure which exceeded federal limits. Although PIRGM cautions their list should not be seen as all-inclusive of every toy in the United States.

Hess says the scary thing about toxic dangers is that parents cannot see lead or phthalates in toys. She says the only way to completely avoid them is to buy toys you know to be safe. "You know- are only made of wood, cotton, or other natural materials."

Watch Noise Levels

Loud toys can also be hazardous. Hess says one toy steering wheel measured up to 92 decibels, which she says is too loud for children's ears.

Local 4 Consumer Expert Ruth Spencer spoke with a nurse, who's seen the personal impact of children being injured.

"That's always devastating to the family, actually to everyone... a perfectly beautiful normal child, whose life will be totally different." Said Donna Bucciarelli, a trauma prevention coordinator.

PIRGM has a website that you can access online and on your phone to check toys while you shop. You can find it at

Or- the Consumer Product Safety Commission also has a site where you can read about and report toys you think might be unsafe. You can find that website at  or or by calling 1-800-638-2772.

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