Stronger Safety Rules Make Toys Safer During 2011 Holiday Season

Stronger Safety Rules Make Toys Safer During 2011 Holiday SeasonAs friends and families go about their holiday shopping this season, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) wants shoppers to know that the rules being developed on a federal level are making a strong impact on restoring public confidence in the safety of toys.

While the CPSC urges that personal toy safety should always be at the top of every list, the agency has made great strides in safeguarding children's play. Notable achievements include establishing the lowest lead content and lead paint limits anywhere in the world, creating a strict limit on the use of certain phthalates, making previously voluntary toy standards mandatory and requiring more rigorous testing and certification of toys developed for children 12 years old and younger.

The CPSC also announced that it is working to lower the limits for cadmium found in toys, and is working alongside the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to track shipments from other countries, increasing the seizure rate of imported toys that could pose a health hazard.

By implementing these new safeguards, toy makers and sellers have reported a significant decline in toy recalls since 2008. In fiscal 2011, there were 34 toy recalls, down from 46 recalls year before, 50 recalls in 2009, and 172 recalls in 2008. Lead-related toy recalls dropped to 4 in 2011, compared to 19 in 2008.

"Strong toy standards support the production of safer toys in the marketplace," said Chairman Inez Tenenbaum. "Parents and toy shoppers also always need to be vigilant by choosing age appropriate toys and keeping small parts, balls, and balloons out of the hands of young children."

However, the number of toy-related deaths to children younger than 15 years old increased from 15 in 2009 to 17 in 2010 – nearly half of which were related to children choking on balloons, small balls and rubber balls.

A recent report released by the CPSC found that balloons and small balls were attributed to 47 percent of reported toy-related deaths in 2010. The majority of the deaths, 11, were linked to asphyxiation or choking, while 4 fatalities were the result of drowning.

The report states that 181,500 children below the age of 15 were treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms because of toy-related injuries in 2010, while nonmotorized scooters were again the category of toys associated with the most injuries.