Are You Buying a Potentially Dangerous Toy?

ByABC News via logo
November 26, 2002, 9:06 PM

Nov. 27 -- From stuffed animals with tiny parts, to sparkly nail polish with toxic chemicals, the holiday gift you pick up for children could pose hidden hazards, a new consumer report says.

There were over a quarter of a million toy-related injuries and 25 toy-related deaths last year, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

To help parents spot potential dangers on the shelves, the United States Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG) released its 17th annual list of potentially hazardous toys this week, with everything from excessively loud toy phones to a "special agent" dart gun making the list.

"Parents should not assume all toys are safe," Jen Thompson, U.S. PIRG's consumer advocate told Good Morning America. "While most manufacturers comply with the law, they should examine the products carefully, look for dangers and think about how a child would play with the toy."

One of the top dangers for children, under age three or even as old as six, is potentially choking on small parts included in toys. A small part is anything that does not fit through a "choking tube," designed to see if something would get caught in a child's airway. For instance, the Sully and Boo doll from Disney was recalled this month because of its small parts. (More details on model below.) Disney is the parent company of

Another dangerous category of toys is balloons, which also create a choking hazard.

"Of all the choking deaths last year, balloons caused the most because children try to blow it up, but inhale it, and it gets stuck in the airway," Thompson said. Balloons should come with a warning that they should not be sold to children under 8, she said.

Hidden Toxins

Small balls or other round objects also create a choking hazard because they can completely fill a child's airway.

Toys made with poly vinyl chloride often have a chemical called phthalates added to soften them.

"The problem is that they are not bound to the poly vinyl," Thompson said. "They leak out. If children put it into their mouth at high levels there's a risk. Studies linked it to reproduction problems and liver and kidney damage."