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How to avoid "toxic toys" this holiday season

How to avoid "toxic toys" this holiday season

The U.S. Public Interest Research Group released its 27th annual survey of toy safety, entitled "Trouble In Toyland," Tuesday.

The survey exposes dangers hidden in toys available for purchase in Colorado.

Justine Bufmack, CoPIRG community outreach volunteer, said there are five major hazards parents need to watch out for: choking, lead, phthalates, magnets and noise.

Bufmack said shoppers should not rely on choking-hazard labels.  Instead, they should check to see if the toy can fit through a toilet paper tube. 

If it does, it can present a choking hazard.

Lead can be found in toys' paint, especially imported toys.  To ensure these toys do not end up in children's hands, consumers should check the lists of recalled toys. 

According to CoPIRG, phthalates are chemicals used to "soften and increase the flexibility of plastic and vinyl."  Bufmack said the chemicals can create a dust that, if inhaled by a child, can cause reproductive and developmental issues.

Bufmack said it is best to choose toys that have a label stating that the toy is free of chemicals.

Bufmack also advised against purchasing magnetic toys that children could swallow.

"If one magnet is in the stomach and another is in the small intestine, for example, they can cling together and quickly work their way through tissue, perforating the wall or creating a hole," states the survey.

According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, one in five children will have some hearing loss by the age of 12.  For this reason, CoPIRG advises against toys that create loud noises.

However, Bufmack suggested placing tape over the toy's speaker to keep the volume at a safer level that will not damage the child's ear.

For more information on the survey, and to find a list of the toys that CoPIRG does not approve of, click here.

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