Toy Safety Rules Play Grinch for Artisans

For all the frustrations of small toymakers, recalls have fallen drastically this year, according to Bob Adler, one of the five Consumer Product Safety Commissioners.

"They really do reflect a greater compliance in the law," he said, although he promised to be responsive to the needs of "the small guys."

But there are still toys on shelves that do not meet the safety requirements. Adler appeared Tuesday at a press conference in Washington, D.C., with Liz Hitchcock from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. She was announcing a new mobile Web site, www.toysafety.mobi, which includes a list of 16 non-compliant toys the group found this year.

Hitchcock had with her a lunchbox with a picture of Elmo on it that she said USPIRG testing found contained seven times the allowable concentration of phthalates, and a fabric and plastic book, manufactured in China, for pre-schoolers, that had one page with three times the allowable amount of lead.

Hitchcock admitted that recalls are down, but said "progress is not perfection" and argued that parents shopping need to be aware of lead and phthalates, as well as choking hazards as they shop for toys.

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