Report: Consumer Protection

Trouble in Toyland 2019

Released by: WISPIRG Foundation

Executive Summary

Millions of parents, grandparents, and caregivers are preparing to buy toys for the loved ones in their lives. Luckily, these toys are safer than ever thanks to years of progress driven by consumer non-profits, public health organizations, elected officials, and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). 

For the last thirty-three years, our annual Trouble in Toyland has helped expose threats, including high levels of lead, “smart” toys with data security flaws, choking hazards, and more. By revealing these dangers, the report has empowered parents to take key actions to ensure toys are safe, while simultaneously pushing decision-makers to enact legislation like the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act to remove these threats completely.  

Despite that progress, dangerous toys continue to reach the market and injure children. In May, the Washington Attorney General announced testing, which revealed illegal levels of lead and cadmium in supplies and kids’ jewelry. There were 15,000 purchases of these products. In August, the Wall Street Journal found thousands of toys that failed to meet safety standards for choking hazards, toxics, and other threats--including two toys with illegal levels of lead. 

It isn’t surprising then, that the CPSC’s most recently available data reveals 251,700 emergency room visits resulting from toys. This number doesn’t begin to account for the long term damages caused by toxins such as lead, boron, or cadmium, which researchers continue to find in toys and other products marketed to children.

Many of these injuries and hazards are avoidable through vigilance and improvements to the toy safety system.

But with so many toys hitting the market every year, how can people make sure their kids’ toys are safe? We’ve found dangerous toys parents can identify themselves; those that require stronger safety standards to keep kids safe; and lastly, recalled toys that are still for sale.

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