Lead-laden & data-collecting toys top 2017 "Trouble in Toyland" report

Posted at 5:31 PM, Nov 21, 2017

Toys have gotten safer over the years but some are still sending kids to the hospital.

Dr. Steven Czinn and his team see it almost every year. A child inevitably swallows some piece or part of a toy and lands in his intensive care unit.

“Many of these toys have sharp edges so they can cause irritation, they can actually puncture the food pipe, the stomach or the intestines,” said Dr. Czinn, chair of the department of pediatrics for the University of Maryland School of Medicine and director of the University of Maryland Children's Hospital.

To keep your child out of the emergency room and enjoying the holidays, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) scours store shelves and websites looking for toys that could pose a hazard.

They published their findings in the 32nd annual “Trouble in Toyland” report. Small magnets, bite size plastic, balloons, and hover boards are all featured in this year's taboo toy catalog.

Another potentially dangerous toy are two fidget spinners from Target. U.S. PIRG sent the products to a lead testing lab accredited by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and found dangerously high levels of lead.

The Fidget Wild Premium Spinner Brass had more than 300 times the legal lead for limit for children. The Fidget Wild Premium Spinner Metal had 13 times the federal legal lead limit.

Target removed these products from store shelves, but they're not being forced to issue a full recall.

“The Consumer Product Safety Commission basically said that their hands are tied,” said Saman Azimi with the Maryland PIRG Foundation.

It's because the age advertised on the packaging is 14 plus.

“These fidget spinners are considered general use products so they're not subjected to the same restrictions children's toys have,” said Azimi.

Regardless of age, Dr. Czinn says this amount of lead may be dangerous.

“If a teenager starts chewing on that toy, ingests lead, lead is harmful for young kids, for teenagers and for adults,” said Czinn. “There is nothing good about lead, which is why the federal government has worked so hard to take it out of gasoline, to take it out of paints.”

In addition to lead, noise, choking, and magnets, there's a new fifth hazard consumer groups and the FBI are warning parents about. Data-collection toys like the “My Friend Cayla” doll could store conversations or share consumer information. The doll was banned in Germany.

“It can take what children are saying, turn it into text, analyze that text online then be able to respond to children,” said Azimi.

The unsecured Bluetooth connection could also be hacked, leaving the door open for someone else to know what Cayla knows.

“They could connect with this toy and have a conversation with the child and say, ‘unlock your door, go outside, do these things,’ and it places children in a lot of danger,” Azimi said.

Click here to view the full 32nd annual “Trouble in Toyland” toy safety survey.

The Toy Association is also responding to the recent publication.

In a statement they wrote in part:

“Many of the items named in U.S. PIRG’s supposed “Trouble in Toyland” report were previously recalled due to ongoing regulatory vigilance, and are no longer offered for sale. In typical fashion, PIRG has resorted to simply listing recalled toys because they couldn’t find safety violations among the toys that are on the market. As a result, the group is needlessly frightening parents and caregivers during what is supposed to be a joyful time of year.”