Toy recalls have been declining since a tough new product-safety law was enacted in 2008. There were 34 toy recalls in the 2011 fiscal year, which ended September 30th, down from 172 in 2008. Even so, a Consumer Product Safety Commission report released last month shows toy-related deaths of children younger than 15 increased last year.
Even with the improvements, injuries remain alarmingly high, according to CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum. It was reported that 17 child fatalities last year were toy-related, up from 12 in 2010. Almost half were from choking on balloons and balls — products so common they are hard to regulate. The report also shows nearly 252,000 children younger than 15 were treated in emergency rooms due to toy-related injuries last year. That number has remained constant in the last few years. Scooters that aren’t motorized continued to be the category with the most injuries.
The once-voluntary toy standards are now mandatory because of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. By January 1st, toymakers will need to have an independent laboratory certify that their products meet the new law’s requirements, including those for lead content, lead paint and small parts. Major retailers, including Target, Walmart, Kmart and Toys R Us, have required this third-party testing since the law took effect in 2008. But there are still other challenges.
CPSC reported last month that 11 children since 2009 have required surgery after swallowing the tiny ball magnets from a popular office desk toy sold under brand names including Buckyballs and Nanospheres. The high-powered magnets continue to be a safety risk to children. From toddlers to teens, children are swallowing these magnets and the consequences are severe. Although the risk scenarios differ by age group, the danger is the same. When two or more magnets are swallowed, they can attract one another internally, resulting in serious injuries, such as small holes in the stomach and intestines, intestinal blockage, blood poisoning and even death.
Source: USA Today
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