Are Parents Ready to Pay Attention to Toxic Toys Shopping Guide?

Over the years, yours truly has trudged out to the front of Orange County toy stores to listen to local representatives from a Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) extol the dangers of potential holiday gifts for kiddies.

These included toys that could choke, poison and injure.

Few were probably listening back then, but they are now thanks to revelations about lead dangers in various Chinese-made products. The Ecology Center tested 700 popular children's toys and apparel and still found lead, cadmium, mercury, bromine, chlorine (PVC), arsenic, and other harmful substances on store shelves, according to its report to be released Wednesday.

"Despite public outrage and new consumer protections to restrict lead and phthalates in children's products," says the center, ". . . this year's findings show that lead--which has been linked to developmental and learning disabilities--is still being found in many products."

The organization's third annual analysis did show the number of toys with elevated lead has been decreasing steadily. You'll be able to read it yourself and discover a wide variety of alternative toy choices at

Besides toys, the 2009 children's product testing includes children's shoes, belts, wallets, handbags and backpacks. 

"Babies and young children are the most vulnerable to toxic chemicals since their brains and bodies are still developing and because they commonly put toys and other products into their mouths," the center warns.

In response to the increasing consumer demand for safer products, a new bill has been introduced to reform what the Ecology Center considers an "outdated" Toxic Substances Control Act, the current federal law for regulating chemicals.

"Recent consumer protections for lead and phthalates in products were a good first step, but we have a long way to go in terms of protecting our children from thousands of other unregulated chemicals in toys and products throughout our economy," says Jeff Gearhart, the Ecology Center's research director.  "The Toxic Substances Control Act needs a major overhaul as soon as possible."


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