NYPIRG Explores Toy Safety in “Trouble in Toyland”

NYPIRG is on a mission: to mitigate the dangers of certain toys.

Each year, the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), releases “Trouble in Toyland,” an annual survey of toy safety funded by the United States Public Interest Group (U.S. PIRG). The report found that despite government regulation and recent recalls, unsafe toys remain widely accessible to children.

 U.S. PIRG reports that over the past 30 years, their annual reports have led to more than 150 recalls of unsafe toys and other regulatory actions, further helping educate the public and policymakers on the need for continued action to protect the health and wellbeing of children.

The report documents several hazards, including potential choking hazards,  products with lead concentrations exceeding federal standards and data collecting toys which potentially infringe upon a child’s privacy rights. 

“Trouble in Toyland,” not only lists which products are potentially harmful, but also enumerates how and why these toys harm children. 

The continual presence of harmful toys underscores the diligence required by the public and government agencies in protecting children from unsafe products and the U.S. PIRG urges the public to remain aware of such risks.

Researchers from the group also advise parents to remain aware of recalls by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). In the last year, the CPSC has demanded 30 recalls of more than 6.5 million toy units. The CPSC is responsible for enforcing toy safety in several ways: outlining limits on toxic substances, maintaining size requirements for small children’s toys, keeping batteries and magnets inaccessible, and requiring warning labels for potential choking hazards.

The report found two fidget spinners containing quantities of lead which exceed the federal standard. It further explains the health effects of lead on children, reading that even low levels of lead in blood have been shown to undermine IQ, attentiveness and academic achievement. These toys have not been classified by the CPSC as children’s toys, but they still  “have play value for children 12 and younger.”

“Trouble in Toyland” also founded a peg game and golf and football travel games which present small pieces that could be classified as a choking hazard, containing pieces that have the potential to “block a child’s airway,” according to the website. 

The report also listed dolls that potentially infringe upon child privacy laws. The press release elaborates on the dolls.

“‘Connected Toys,’  are banned in Germany for privacy violations and are the subject of a complaint by several consumer groups to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission because they may violate the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. In July, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) issued a warning to consumers to ‘consider cyber security prior to introducing smart, interactive, internet-connected toys into their homes.’”

The end of the U.S PIRG’s report reads several recommendations, the first one reading: “Policymakers should continue building upon recent progress in the strengthening of toy safety standards.”