Nov. 25, 2009 -- This week kicks off the first holiday shopping season since a law went into effect that is supposed to make children's toys safer. But the U.S. Public Interest Research Group says there is still trouble in toy land.
"There is no magic wand fixing the CSPC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) and making products safer won't happen overnight," U.S. PIRG public health advocate Liz Hitchcock said.
Choking hazards are the number one cause of toy-related deaths. For example, U.S. PIRG says the ball on top of the creative wood stacking rings made by Zaidy Products is too small for children under the age of three.
If a toy or part can fit through a toilet paper tube it's too small for kids under three. That's why balloons can be deadly. When they are inflated they don't fit, but if they pop they become one of the leading choking hazards.
Loud toys are also on the U.S. PIRG's list because they can cause hearing loss. PIRG says its tests show a Vtech Bright Lights Phone and the Playskool Kota and Pals Triceratops exceeds the decibel levels set by a standards group.
Hasbro, the maker of the triceratops, says its own testing shows the toy meets the standards.
If a toy seems loud to you, it is even louder to your child. To test it, put it as close to your ear as your child would to double check. If you think it is too loud, you can be the Grinch and take the batteries out.
Click here to read Hasbro's statement.
Toxins in Toys
Toxins in toys are also dangerous. At Claire's Boutiques, U.S. PIRG found a cell phone charm that is 71 percent lead, even though the current standard is a fraction of 1 percent, and a purse that contains 54 times more phthalates than the new law allows.
Claire's says the charm is no longer sold and the purse is not a toy.
Claire's said its products are tested by an independent lab approved by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
To avoid toxins, do not let toddlers have costume jewelry, which is statistically the category with the most lead, far more than toys.
Click here to read Claire's Boutiques' statement.
"Good Morning America" was not able to reach the makers of all 16 toys U.S. PIRG used as examples, but the Toy Industry Association points out 3 billion toys are sold each year in the United States and says they must conform to "tough federal safety standards ... and rigorous testing and inspection procedures."
Click here to read a statement from the Toy Industry Association.
Helpful Web Sites
You can search for recalled products or report a problem at the Consumer Product Safety Commission Web site.
You can use the U.S. Public Interest Research Group smart phone site to check toys or report problems while you shop.
The Ecology Center has a database of ingredients in 5,000 products.
The Center for Environmental Health sues companies to force them to comply with California's strict lead laws.