December 17, 2010

Dangerous Toys and the Holiday Season

Christmas is the time for toys. Parents expect that toys have been designed and manufactured with safety in mind. That is not a safe assumption. Ninety five percent (95%) of the toys sold in the United States are now manufactured overseas, mainly in China. In the last 10 years, the number of toy-related injures has increased 54%. In 2008, more than 235,000 children were treated at U.S. emergency rooms for toy-related injuries, and at least 19 children died. The causes of these injuries and deaths have included choking hazards from small detachable or easily broken parts; lead and cadmium contamination, particularly in children's jewelry; toxic chemicals in candy; and a variety of additional dangers such as igniting batteries, broken straps, and exploding parts. Small, powerful magnets swallowed by young children present a particularly insidious danger. If multiple magnets are swallowed, they can attract each other through the intestinal walls pinching, blocking or eroding the intestinal wall resulting in infections, blood poisoning, and even death. The undermanned Consumer Products Safety Commission is only able to check a tiny fraction of the toys imported into this country every year. Many of the dangers in modern toys are either latent or intentionally concealed. Even careful parents need to know that profits, and not necessarily safety, are the first priority for a number of toy manufacturers.