WASHINGTON, D.C. – In recent years, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has created a robust toy safety system, by requiring testing by independent, third party testing laboratories around the world; enforcing stringent lead and phthalates limits for toys; imposing some of the most stringent toy standards in the world; and stopping violative and dangerous toys at the ports and in the marketplace before they reach children’s hands. These combined efforts continue to foster the confidence of American families as they prepare to shop for toys this holiday season.
During the past five years, CPSC and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have stopped more than 9.8 million units of about 3,000 different toys that violated applicable standards. The violative products never made it onto store shelves and were kept out of consumers’ homes.
“As I look back at my years leading CPSC, I am proud of the work we have done to build a global system of toy safety,” said Chairman Inez Tenenbaum. “When parents and grandparents walk into a toy store or visit an e-retailer, they can have confidence that the toys they see have likely been independently tested to ensure compliance with strong safety standards.”
In fiscal year 2013, CPSC issued only 31 toy recalls, none of which involved a lead violation. This compares with 172 toy recalls in fiscal year 2008 (19 of which were due to excessive lead); 50 recalls in 2009 (14 for lead); 46 recalls in fiscal year 2010 (3 for lead); 34 recalls in 2011 (4 for lead); and 38 recalls in 2012 (3 for lead). The majority of toy recalls announced last year involved ingestion hazards, including chemical and magnetic dangers. CPSC is working to address these hazards.
Toy-related deaths involving children younger than 15 decreased from 19 in 2010, to 17 in 2011, and 11 in 2012 (based on reports to date). As more death reports are received, CPSC staff expects the total for 2012 to be higher than 11.
The majority of these toy-related fatalities in 2012 were attributed to riding toys, including tricycles and nonmotorized scooters. Four victims were found in swimming pools with their tricycles, and one child received a fatal head injury after his tricycle toppled over. In addition, two fatalities were reported where children rode nonmotorized scooters into traffic and were hit by motor vehicles. Asphyxiation and aspiration were the next leading causes of toy-related fatalities, including two reports involving balloons and one report involving a stuffed animal.
A new report released today by CPSC, estimated 192,000 toy-related, emergency department-treated injuries in 2012 to children younger than 15 years. Many of the incidents were associated with, but not necessarily caused by, a toy. For example, CPSC received these three hospital emergency-room treated reports last year:
• A two-year-old male who was hit in the face by a metal toy thrown by a sibling received facial lacerations.
• A four-year-old male hit himself in the eye with a toy dinosaur, which led to eye redness and blurred vision.
• A seven-year-old female fell off of a scooter and hit her mouth on the concrete and injured her mouth, including a broken tooth.
CPSC has also received reports of children injured in 2012 while using toys that broke, including:
• A three-year-old female who received a laceration to the foot while playing with a toy made of plastic and glass that broke.
• A four-year-old female who cut her wrist when a porcelain doll broke.
• A nine-year-old female who was riding a scooter when the handlebar broke was treated for a chin laceration.
For children younger than 15 years old, nonmotorized scooters continued to be the category of toys associated with the most injuries in 2012. Frequently, these injuries involved lacerations, contusions and abrasions to the child’s face and head.
Here are some safety tips for consumers to keep in mind this holiday season:
• Balloons - Children can choke or suffocate on deflated or broken balloons. Keep deflated balloons away from children younger than eight years old. Discard broken balloons immediately.
• Small balls and other toys with small parts - For children younger than age three, avoid toys with small parts, which can cause choking.
• Scooters and other riding toys - Riding toys, skateboards and in-line skates go fast, and falls could be deadly. Helmets and safety gear should be worn properly at all times and they should be sized to fit.
• Magnets – Children's magnetic toys are covered by a strong safety standard that requires the magnets to be encapsulated. High-powered magnet sets have loose magnets, which is a key difference from children's magnetic toys. High-powered magnet sets are dangerous and should be kept away from children. Whether marketed for children or adults, building and play sets with small magnets should also be kept away from small children.
Once gifts are open:
• Immediately discard plastic wrapping or other toy packaging before the wrapping and packaging become dangerous play things.
• Keep toys appropriate for older children away from younger siblings.
• Battery charging should be supervised by adults. Chargers and adapters can pose thermal burn hazards to young children. Pay attention to instructions and warnings on battery chargers. Some chargers lack any mechanism to prevent overcharging.
Along with educating the public, CPSC has a strong track record of working with foreign and domestic toy manufacturers, importers and retailers to help them understand and comply with U.S. toy requirements. This month, CPSC is joining with our product safety partners in Canada and Mexico to promote toy safety education and awareness. CPSC, Health Canada, and Mexico’s Procuraduria Federal del Consumidor (PROFECO) have released the toy safety tips above for choosing, purchasing, and supervising the use of children’s toys. This cooperative effort is aimed at making North America the safest continent for purchasing consumer products.