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Toxic Toys: A Worldwide Problem


How Toxic Toys Are Affecting Our Children

We came to think that when we bought a toy for our child, especially if the toy was from a major maufacturer, we could count on that toy being safe. At least that is what we thought.

The facts are that in 2005 nearaly 73,000 children under age 5 were sent to the hospital emergency rooms. 20 children died from toy related injury according to government statistics.

The problem started when companies were outsourcing work to other countries. These toys that were imported did not have the controls and safety testing that those in our won country might have.

Now it is coming to light that many of these toys have been manufactured poorly. That non spec paints and parts have been built into them. Who would have known till now the end result.

The holidays are coming and we think that you should be an informed shopper ! Because of the numerous recalls, you should be checking your list more than once or twice.

We will be adding resources daily. so please bookmark us.


14 Of The Most Toxic Toys

One of every three toys tested in a study of 1,500 popular children's toys contained potentially harmful levels of lead, arsenic, mercury, and other dangerous chemicals, according to findings released earlier this month by the Ecology Center, an Ann Arbor, Mich.-based consumer safety organization.

  1. Hanna Montana Heart Necklace is loaded with so much lead that it earned a prominent spot on the "worst toys" list. In the study, researchers used a handheld X-ray device to test the toys for lead, cadmium, chlorine, arsenic, bromine, and mercury, which have been recognized by regulatory agencies as potentially dangerous in high concentrations
  2. Hanna Montanna 2 Hearts and HM Graphic Necklace is also manufactured by Disney. The necklace led the pack on the "worst toys" list of those most contaminated by lead, with a whopping 406,510 ppm of lead.
  3. Colored Chalks are manufactured by Alex Panline USA, Inc. These contain Mercury PPM:423. Kids have eaten chalk since there has been chalk to eat. Still, it is probably best to keep this chalk out of their mouth.
  4. Ball Track, Large Basic Set is made by Habermaass Corp., Inc. and contains Cadmium PPM:981, On February 10th, 2009 the U.S. imposed limits on new levels of cadmium at a level of 75PPM
  5. Lift It Luke has been manufactured by Ravensburger F.X. Schmid USA Inc. The problem with this toy is that it has Bromine PPM: 22,634
  6. Best Friends Band is made by Alex Panline USA, Inc, You would not want this amount of arsenic in your child's system at PPM: 630
  7. Lightning Mc Queen Racing Chair has been made by Disney. Bromine, a chemical widely used in flame retardants, has been linked to birth defects and reproductive problems, as well as issues with child development. This toy comes in with a level of bromine PPM: 25,562
  8. Bracelets Collection made by the Christmas Tree Shop Researchers have found that there is no safe level of lead. The damage tends to be worse when the exposed person is younger, and even the smallest amount can interfere with a child's ability to learn. This toy has a lead content of Lead PPM: 81,085
  9. Halloween Pumpkin Pin again made by the Christmas Tree Shop. The Halloween Pumpkin Pin is so contaminated with toxic chemicals that it ranks near the top of three out of five of the most toxic chemicals, including lead, arsenic, and cadmium. Arsenic PPM: 4,765. Cadmium PPM: 3,847. Lead PPM: 190,943
  10. Just My Style " It's So Charming" jewelry charm bracelet has a lead content of PPM: 9,254 ( standard is no more than 600 ppm)
  11. High School Musical crown bracelet also manufactured by Disney was tested to have a level of lead at Lead PPM: 7,963
  12. Road Racers with Play Mat is made by Wholesale Merchandisers, Inc.These cars, which contain over 30 times more bromine than considered safe, maybe more dangerous for children to race than parents realize. Bromine PPM: 30,831
  13. Bath Letters And Numbers is made and sold by The Little Tikes Co. The product contains high levels of mercury, which has been linked to kidney damage and is toxic to the nervous system. Mercury PPM: 463.

14. Eight Mini Twist-Up Crayons Alex Panline USA, Inc.Exposure to mercury has been linked to a variety of neurological problems. These crayons have Mercury PPM: 783'

And There Are More

  • A “Justice League Superman” stuffed toy with 6,735 ppm of lead, 2,415 ppm chromium, 271 ppm arsenic, and 180 ppm antimony.
  • A black and yellow polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic boxing gloves with “SpongeBob Squarepants” design with 9,356 ppm of lead.
  • An unlabeled yellow-painted play chair with a “Winnie the Pooh” design with 43,100 ppm of lead.
  • A “Pocket Bola Pikachu” toy with 5,165 ppm of lead.

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Product Safety Law Finally Signed

On August 14th, 2008, the product safety law was finally passed. This bill, signed by President Bush, bans lead paint and phthalates in products intended for children under the age of 12 - the strictest such law in the world. There were a record setting 448 recalls in 2008, about 50 percent of those recalls, involved our children.

The new law bans six different kinds of phthalates - chemicals that make plastics more flexible. These chemicals have been linked with reproductive damage. Phthalates can be found in dozens of baby and child products, including bath toys and baby lotions.

Toys must now be tested before they are sold

In the US, toys are regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The CPSC enforces basic federal standards that include sharp points or edges, small parts that children could swallow, and lead in paint. Unfortunately, toys are not tested for safety before they are put on store shelves for sale. The CPSC works in a reactive way, and toys are only recalled when complaints are filed.

How To Protect Your Kids

There is at present no national lead regulation law. So for the present, it is each of our responsibilities to take family matters into our own hands.

Look for any jewelry made of metal, plastic, or wood. You know the kind often seen in the dollar stores.

Be suspicious and cautious of any toys made in China, where lead is frequently used in manufacturing. Look for where the item is made and until everything is sorted out, I simply would not buy it

  • When possible, choose solid wood toys.
  • Look for items like bibs and lunch boxes that are made of PVC or vinyl-free
  • Imported painted wood toys tend to have a higher risk of lead exposure since regulations in certain countries are quite lax. Choose toys made in the US, Canada, or the EU.
  • Avoid ALL old (pre-1978) toys with flaking paint, in particular.
  • When buying paints for children choose water-based paints made with pigments found in vegetables, fruits, roots, herbs, and/or spices to avoid lead and other heavy metals and solvents.
  • Buy a lead test kit available at most hardware and home stores. You get about 8 swabs for $20. While the strips are not foolproof, you may want to test older toys. When in doubt, throw it out. Try to keep toys out of your children's mouths.

Lead Testing Kit - Every home should have one !

It's not just the new toys, but there may be several old toys that may be hazardous to your children's health. We suggest that you purchase a kit and be sure that what you have around the house is safe' We have searched the net and we recommend these products

Additionally, the use of lead in plastics has not been banned. According to the CDC, “Lead softens the plastic and makes it more flexible so that it can go back to its original shape. When the plastic is exposed to substances such as sunlight, air, and detergents the chemical bond between the lead and plastics breaks down and forms dust”, thus exposing your child.

Recent Toy Safety News

Tests on more than 1200 children's products were conducted by a coalition of enviormental health groups across the country.

According to the report by the Associated Press on December 6th, only 20 % of the tested toys had no trace of lead or harmful chemicals.

35 % of the tested toys conatin lead, many levels far above the federal standards used for lead paint. According to this report, 17% of these products had levels of lead that would trigger a recall of lead paint.

Testers purchased most of the toys at local retailers such as Wal;mart, Toys R Us and Babies R Us.

According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were 40 toy recalls in fiscal year 2006, on;y three involving lead paint. In 2007, there were 61 toy recalls, 19 involving lead paint

Toy Safety Groups and Websites

This is such a huge topic that we wanted to collect some great groups and websites that you can use to learn more about toy safety.

  • Healthy Toys.Org includes test results for more than 2,200 toys and children’s products. This site is a first step in providing consumers with the information they need to make better choices when purchasing toys and other children’s products.

Toxic Toy List & Dangers

Government and Other Groups - Recalls and Action

These are resources where you can get up to date information as well as who is on the front lines on toxic issues.

Toy Safety Tips - These are from the Consumer Product Safety Commission

Here are some safety tips that you should consider when buying any toys

  • Look for toy labels that give age and safety recommendations and use that information as a guide.
  • Select toys to suit the age, abilities, skills and interest levels of the intended child.
  • For children under 3, avoid toys with small parts, which could cause choking
  • For children under 6, avoid sets with small magnets, which could casuse serious injury or death if swallowed
  • For children under 8, avoid toys with sharp edges and points
  • Helmets and safety gear should fit properly and be worn by children using riding toys, such as skateboards and inline skates.
  • Improper use of projectile toys, such as rockets or darts, could result in serious eye injury. These toys should be for older children
  • Battery chargers and adapters can pose a burn hazard for children.Adults should supervise charging batteries and pay attention to warnings on chargers.
  • Immeadiately discard palstic wrapping on toys.
  • Keep toys appropriate for older children away from younger children
  • Stay informed ! Bookmak this site ! Ue our resource guides for more information

We Need Better Plastics

There's been a lot of concern and government investigation into toys and baby bottles that contain bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical compound used in the manufacturing of many plastics.

While some phthalates have been banned, a few common ones you might see on product labels include: BPA (Bisphenol A), DBP (dibutyl phthalate), DMP (dimethyl phthalate) and BBzP (benzyl butyl phthalate). Widely known as “endocrine disruptors,” the health effects of phthalates include damage to the liver and kidneys, birth defects, asthma and early puberty.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration claims its regulated products containing BPA are safe. However, it has also formed a new BPA task force to do more research.

If you are unsure about any toy, go the the government web site on toy safety


PVC or vinyl (#3 in the recycle triangle) is soft flexible plastic. Phthalates are chemicals found in soft plastics (they leach out of PVC products) and are also used to add fragrance to products. Basically, anything that smells artificially has phthalates and most soft plastic toys could too. Polymer clay, used for modeling, is also made with PVC and softened phthalates.

Phthalates are known endocrine (hormone) disruptors associated with liver and kidney lesions, a higher risk of certain cancers, and may exacerbate asthma and allergies in children. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has set limits to a dozen different phthalates in toys, however, these chemicals can still sometimes be found in toys.

How To Avoid PVC

  1. If it smells like plastic, it is bad for you.
  2. Choose soft toys made out of organic fabric or natural rubber.
  3. Avoid plastic dolls, plastic purses, and accessories
  4. Take caution when buying outdoor toys. Many outdoor and water toys are made of PVC.

Other Toxins Found In Toys

  1. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC). A human carcinogen, PVC is known as the “poison plastic” — usually plastics labeled as No. 3. These chemicals pollute natural resources and can lead to cancer, birth defects, diabetes, endometriosis, and immune system problems. PVC is common in pacifiers, flexible plastic toys, raincoats, shoes, kiddie swimming pools, and artificial Christmas trees.
  2. Cobalt-This is a common substance used for colorization, especially blue. Excessive exposure can lead to lung damage, heart problems, and dermatitis. Cobalt has been found in plastic building blocks, baby bibs, ride-on toys, pencil cases, kids' jewelry, and baby changing mats.
  3. Ethylene glycol. You may recognize it as antifreeze, yet this industrial solvent is also used in the manufacturing of polyester and plastics. High levels of ethylene glycol may affect kidney function, the nervous system, and the heart. Ethylene glycol has been found in dolls, soft toys, dress-up costumes, games, and plastic water bottles.
  4. BPA-Most of us know about BPA – a chemical used to make hard, mostly transparent, plastics. BPA is also used in soft PVC plastic. BPA, and other Bisphenols, mimic the hormone estrogen and have been linked to prostate cancer, breast cancer, female infertility, and obesity. BPA is an especially dangerous endocrine disruptor since even small amounts of this chemical have been shown to cause serious reproductive damage, especially when the exposure occurs in utero.

More Toy Tips

Here are some additional tips to help you avoid any toxic toys for the children in your life:

  1. Avoid painted wooden toys, unless they’re made in the United States or Europe or by brands you’ve vetted. Lead paint continues to show up in Chinese-made toys. Lead has been banned from toys produced in the United States, so you can be reasonably sure that toys that are made in America will be lead-free.
  2. Avoid Chinese toys. Unfortunately, lead paint isn’t the only thing to fear in Chinese toys. Many Chinese-imported toys have also been found to be contaminated with brominated fire retardants (including notorious PBDEs). Although these chemicals are banned for most uses in Europe and Canada, and no longer produced in the U.S., a legal loophole allows finished toys that contain these toxins to be imported and sold here. Since more than 85% of toys are made in China, they are not easy to avoid! Being made in China doesn’t necessarily make a product Bad Stuff; in some cases, a company will be based in Europe but may have a devoted manufacturing facilities located in China (or elsewhere in Asia). In general, when companies go to the trouble to use organic cotton, real wood, water-based paints, etc., they are also the companies that maintain close control over their production facilities–wherever they are located.

The Mattel Story - Where it all started or did it?

On September 7, 2007 another recall was added to the growing list-Barbie Accessories. With most of our toys being manufactured elsewhere,can we truly feel safe again. The fact is that most of these toys were in fact manufactured in China. And what was the major issue-lead paint. Where the list will end is anyone's guess !

Matell Wasn't The Only Toy Company With A Problem - Fischer Price Is Under Scrutiny

The September 2007 recalls include paint hazards from Fischer Price Toys also. Again, levels of lead in paint seems to be the biggest problem. Here are some of their recalls.

Toys R Us

More News On The Retail Front

Toys R Us, the nation's second largest toy retailer, behind Walmart stated that it would use an indepemdemt lab to test every branded product, accordimg to Kathleen Waugh-company spokeswoman.

The retailer says that it will absorb the costs this year, but it also thinks that next year pricing could increase.

The Disney Factor

Disney's stand and other Disney product news.

The Walt Disney Company was hit hard by Mattel's recall of 435,000 toy cars believed to contain lead paint. The major product was called "Sarge" , a character from the Disney movie, " Cars". Disney will now independently test all toys featuring their characters.

These tests will include all catagories od toys from about 2,000 licensees

Some Best Non Toxic Toys

Vinyl Bibs Under Scrutiny - They are not toys, but we thought it was important

On August 17th, Toys R Us pulled off it's shelves a massive amount of bibs that were made with high levels of lead. These were retailed also at Babies R Us. These companies were offering a refund on any bibs purchased at their locations. Here is more information on bib recalls.

More Recall Resources

We have gathered lots of resources that will help you keep up with all the latest toxic toys. Bookmark them caise we know this will be daily news for a while

So What Toys Are Safe

The best toys are made from the most natural materials. Natural materials like solid wood especially those with an unfinished or non toxic finish. Also those made with cotton, hemp, wool or natural rubber would be considered safe for kids.

Try to avoid any plastic toys that were made before 2009. in the USA, Also avoid any that were made in Europe before 2006. These more than likely have high phthalates in them.

When shopping, look for PVC- and BPA-free products. Avoid plastics labeled No. 3 or with a “V” inside the chasing arrows symbol (PVC) or No. 7 (polycarbonate). Typically, squishy or flexible plastics — think rubber duckies and baby dolls — are likely to contain PVC. Give the toy a sniff — PVC usually has an odor like vinyl shower curtains.

Who Will Bear The Cost For Safety ?

Costs for better quality control will more than likely pass to consumers

Yes, more than likely, the cost of better quality control will be passed to consumers. However, it also should be said that these costs will not be passed on until after the 2007 Christmas Season.

Prices are expected to go up at least 10 % after the more than 3 million toys that were already shipped from China are recalled.

Some critics have said that prices were kept low in an effort that the discounters have waged. These same critics will say that real safeguards were sacriced during these same price wars.

Some analysts have states that prices will remain the same till January because manufacturers and sellers have already ordered their Christmas inventory.

Product testing is now at a frenzied pace and the cost of it all will eventually be passed onto consumers.

Eric Johnson, a professor at Dartmouth's Tuck School of Business has stated, " This year, both retailers and manufacturers will share the costs. But in the longer term, costs will have to go somewhere. And consumers will see it."

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2014 Linda F Correa

Let Washington Know How You Feel about The Issue - Add your comment here

RTalloni on March 20, 2017:

By now, this should be a non-issue. It's not like choosing to harm one's health by indulging in harmful drinks, smokes, or foods. Parent's don't have a way to know if a toy product is safe. They must depend on companies and governments to do their job. Yes, legislators have a huge responsibility here. And perhaps toy companies need a message, after all, many families store half the toys they have half the time anyway.

Linda F Correa (author) from Spring Hill Florida on October 20, 2014:

You are right. Nothing changes till people raise their voices. The "Breaking Bad " toys are a perfect example of the toy people making a buck selling everything. Since when do we want our kids playing with toys that are action figures for cartel members?

Linda F Correa (author) from Spring Hill Florida on January 30, 2014:

@PiccadillyPunkin: I agree, mostly it feels like anything for a buck. The toy business is fueled by the greed of the major manufacturers. Even if we are firm about allowing our children only safe toys, the media brainwashes our kids into wanting the toys that they are promoting. You are right. Our Legislators need to get on board toward more regulation, but that won't happen until people raise their voices

PiccadillyPunkin on January 26, 2014:

As a mother, I wish the US were leading the charge against toxic toys and proper labeling! We shouldn't have to fill out petitions and appeal to congressmen so we can feel safe about the toys on our shelves. US standards are way too low. It's obvious over recent years that the almighty dollar is driving safety standards and changes that should have happened long ago. Rather than take a reactive approach to parent outcry, we need to have our government leading the way towards healthier and safer children's toys...which down the road will lead to a less toxic America in so many areas. I would rather support toys made in the USA, but there are far too few of them with manufacturing standards that are safe for my kids. I buy most of my toys from European companies whose practices reflect more of a care for children and their parents.

marckq on June 02, 2011:

Having kids aged 8 and 4, I am extremely careful about buying toys and other kids stuff. And yes, I think any country exporting toys should comply with a strict lead standard. Thank you for sharing this lens, it's true toxic toys are becoming a worldwide problem.

anonymous on October 06, 2010:

Well, I don't know a lot about the topic, but I've read lately about several Chinese companies using toxics on their toys! Now I'm scared, and I don't know if I should Buy Kamagra or a TV or a little toy for my kids... because these guys are not careful at all!

anonymous on October 06, 2010:

Well, I don't know a lot about the topic, but I've read lately about several Chinese companies using toxics on their toys! Now I'm scared, and I don't know if I should Buy Kamagra or a TV or a little toy for my kids... because these guys are not careful at all!

anonymous on December 09, 2007:

Hi! Please help us find toys that are made in America and NON toxic to our kids. Someone in our government MUST be watching out for our children! Don't they have kids and grandkids? We need answers and protection for products being sold to us. We want to but MADE IN THE USA prodicts that are safe!

SALZBURG LM on November 04, 2007:

I enjoyed your lens

nice job!

Edmands on November 02, 2007:

It is unfortunate that Mattel has been unable to implement an appropriate Quality Supplier Assurance program and protect its customers. On October 24th Mattel management made the press release that they are now going to implement an inspection process to help control the quality of paint used to make their toys. Quality experts know that inspecting quality into a product was abandoned in the 1920s, yes the 1920s. This action might make the paint problem go away, but a problem will just show up in an area which they are not inspecting.

CarmenVj on October 01, 2007:

Hi, Great lens on toy safety. It is a shame what is happening with so many toys right now. The lead factor is a negative. We have to protect our children that's for sure.

Linda F Correa (author) from Spring Hill Florida on September 14, 2007:

I am requiring that my government take appropriate action to make lead paint untollerated on any toys. I further require that action be taken in regard to the inspection of any imported toys. We have the right to know that the toys that we purchase are safe for our children.

Linda White Florida

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