Despite new regulations to make toys safer, each year some children’s products still face recalls because they’re dangerous; Tuesday morning the Florida Consumer Action Network and Florida PIRG released their annual list of recalled toys and toxic children’s products known as Trouble in Toyland.
Dr. Wassam Rahman is an emergency medicine physician at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg.
“Toys continue to be a challenge to us, on a daily basis. Talking about riding injuries is probably the most common thing we see is bicycle injuries. Kids riding bicycles, falling off their bikes, getting hit by cars–we see that quite often. The most important thing, in that it’s gonna happen, kids are gonna fall off bikes, but, it’s very important for them to wear helmets.
“The other things we do see, very commonly, are choking. The patients who present with choking type injuries. Usually these are small objects. Usually these are kids under 3-years of age.
“Most of the time they’ll pick up a part of a toy, a part of an ornament–a Christmas ornament–they’ll pick up a part of a toy or a gadget that belongs to an older child, which is very important to remember when you do buy Wood Toys that consumers look at all the members of the household and the hazards that they are threatened with.
“One of the most difficult ones are batteries–button batteries. Sometimes hard to find. I’ve pulled button batteries out of noses. If they’re small enough, they can go in the ear, the very, very tiny ones and they are very, very dangerous. The worst are when they go into the esophagus or the ‘food pipe,’ or in the trachea. They can cause quite a devastating injury in a few hours. So, it’s a very, very dangerous thing to have. So, button batteries is something this is very, very important to keep away from small children. They can be found in our car keys, the remote controls, etc.
“The other thing is magnets. Magnets are tough, because if you swallow one magnet, it’s not a big deal. When you swallow two magnets or more, they can compress the bowel–on either side of the bowel–and can be very, very dangerous.”
Petra Vybiralova is safety instructor for Florida Suncoast Safe Kids Coalition, says some toys, like the one made in India she describes, still contain lead paint.
“There are strict regulations for toxic chemicals, however, we were still able to find a toy that contained toxic chemicals, in the color pink, only. If you look at the labels of this toy, it says it’s wonderful for the earth. It’s all wooden.
“However, if parents are able to look into details, the paint color is containing much more toxic chemicals than it’s allowed for a small child. Of course, if you buy this for a small child, they’re bound to put it in their mouth, right?”
U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Tampa) says she hopes the new presidential administration won’t undo safety and consumer regulations to make hazardous toys more common.
“Yes, the toy recalls are down, but, we still have work to do.
“It was in 2008, I helped co-sponsor a bill that would provide parents, grandparents, consumers, with greater tools to determine whether or not the toys on the shelves are safe or not.
“And the PIRG and FCAN report this year, says: ‘Yes, we’re making progress,’ but, we’ve got to remain vigilant, because right now, with a new administration coming into the White House, there’s a lot of talk about rolling back regulations and I think it’s incumbent upon all of us to say ‘Let’s not roll back the Consumer Product Safety Commission mission.’ Make sure that they continue to have the tools they need to protect our kids.
“And for the Congress, as they look to cut the budget in certain places, it’s not wise to cut the budget of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, because the commission saves lives.”
Watch the Trouble in Toyland press conference: