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Georgia PIRG Education Fund

Parents and other gift-givers should be on the lookout for toxic toys as they shop this year. 

In its 25th annual “Trouble in Toyland” report last week, the Georgia Public Interest Research Group said it found toxic chemicals and toys that pose choking hazards.

Stephanie Ali, Georgia PIRG program associate, said a lot of progress has been made but that there is still danger in the toy box.

“Georgia PIRG’s report and the resources we offer will help consumers identify and avoid the worst threats and keep their children safe this year,” she said.

Key findings include:

- In 2009, many toys and other children’s products containing more than 0.1 percent of phthalates – chemicals used as softeners in plastics – were banned. Still, Georgia PIRG found children’s products, including a baby doll, that contained concentrations of phthalates up to 30 percent.

- Despite a ban on small parts in toys for children under 3, there are still toys available that pose serious choking hazards, including a toy train with a wooden peg that, while compliant with current standards, nearly led to the choking death of a District of Columbia-area toddler.

- Lead and other metals have been severely restricted in toys in the past two years, but researchers found toys containing toxic lead and antimony on store shelves. Lead has negative health effects on almost every organ and system in the human body, and antimony is classified as a human carcinogen, a substance that causes cancer. Laboratory testing revealed one preschool book with antimony far above the limits, and Georgia PIRG has notified the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Georgia PIRG noted that progress has been made on toy safety in the past two years thanks to a 2008 PIRG-backed law overhauling the CPSC as well as new leadership at the agency.

“The CPSC is doing a good job under its expanded authority, but there is still more work to be done, especially when it comes to eliminating choking hazards and regulating the tens of thousands of chemicals that are in the toys our children play with every day,” Ali said.

State Rep. Stephanie Stuckey Benfield, who was present for the report’s release, said that toys should bring joy to kids at the holidays, but sometimes they unfortunately bring injury and harm.

“As a mother of two young children, I am thankful to Georgia PIRG for doing the tough research to uncover which toys should stay on the shelves at the store and not make it into our toy boxes at home.”

In 2009, toy-related injuries sent more than 250,000 children – 90,000 under the age of 5 – to emergency rooms. Twelve children died from toy-related injuries that year.

Georgia PIRG provides an interactive Web site with tips for safe toy shopping that consumers can access on their smartphones at To view the full Trouble in Toyland report or for more information, visit

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