Toxic chemicals are still being found in children’s products despite new laws against them, according to a U.S. consumer watchdog. As a result, it was still toy “buyers beware” during the Christmas season. Just before the holiday shopping season began, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) warned consumers to avoid soft plastic toys and heavy children’s jewelry. PIRG health advocate Liz Hitchcock said at a news conference held before Christmas: “It’s still ‘buyer beware’ for this shopping season.” Soft plastic toys may contain phthalates, chemicals linked by some medical research to a range of health problems. Lots of toys containing phtholates were sold during pre-Christmas shopping. PIRG’s advice to consumers was to avoid soft plastic products. PIRG’s 23rd toy safety survey — an annual event for the world toy industry – was released in late November. Parents – if they haven’t already done so – should check this survey to see if their children now have any of the listed toys.
Any products likely to contain lead are suspect. Eighteen U.S. children died from toy-related injuries last year. Another 80,000 children under the age of five ended up in hospital emergency rooms due to toy-related injuries. Even after stronger consumer safety laws were passed by Congress, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, at the urging of the Bush Administration, told toy companies they could keep selling phthalate-laden toys until they run out of them. This was done in spite of a clear prohibition against selling these toys after February 10th. That’s very hard to understand, but typical of the Bush Administration, when you consider that it’s dealing with a health and safety issue.
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