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Beware of Dangerous Toys this Holiday Season

By Michael Morse | December 5, 2008

With all of the news about harmful chemicals in our everyday products, it should be no surprise that this danger exists in children’s toys as well.  There have always been risks from chemicals in children’s toys, since children tend to put toys and their hands into their mouths, which transfers the chemicals from the toy to the child’s system.  The risk doesn’t only come from lead either; these toys also contain flame retardants, bromine, arsenic, mercury, and various other harmful chemicals.  And, despite the focus on toys made in China, these dangers are not exclusive to toys made in that country.

The State of Michigan has established a limit of 600ppm as a “safe” level of lead, but the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a ceiling of just 40ppm.  However, a recent study by the CDC has established that even lower levels of lead can cause problems for young children.  These problems can exist even if there are no external symptoms of lead poisoning.  This indicates that there is no “safe” level of lead exposure for children.

The symptoms of lead poisoning include diarrhea, lack of appetite, irritability, insomnia, a constant metallic taste, stomach pain, nausea, headaches, and seizures.  Higher levels of exposure can cause problems with the kidneys, reproductive harm, and coma.  Lead exposure in children can also lead to extreme learning disabilities.  Treatment is available to remove the lead in a person’s system, but avoiding exposure is the best approach.

There are several fast, effective, and inexpensive home-based test kits available.  These kits allow a parent to test toys, paint, and any other surface for lead contamination.  Some examples that were rated highly by Consumer Reports are here and here .

The Ann Arbor-based group, the Ecology Center has a study regarding the chemicals in children’s toys.  The study reveals that 20% of toys tested were above the state threshold for lead levels and 10.7% were above the AAP safety level.  Others had medium to high levels of other chemicals.  The good news is that 62% of toys tested had low levels of potentially unsafe chemicals and 21% of all the toys had no unsafe chemical content.  These safer toys were of the same type and quality as the unsafe ones, proving that manufacturers can make toys free of these dangerous chemicals.

If a child is harmed by lead exposure, an attorney may help you recover expenses and compensation from manufacturers, distributors, and/or retailers of the harmful toys.  Contact us for more information at 800.281.0606 or click here.

Click here for a quick reference on how to keep children safe from dangerous toys this holiday season.

For information on the toys studied by the Ecology Center, including a list of the safest and the most dangerous toys, as well as a searchable database, click here.

For information from the Centers for Disease Control, click here.

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