A consumer watchdog group is calling on the federal government to establish a limit on boron, which is a component of some brands of toy slime. (Lila/Wikimedia Commons)

Trouble in Toyland: Report Warns of Toys that Pose Risks to Kids

By: Suzanne Potter, Public News Service

CARSON CITY, Nev. – New federal statistics say 226,000 children ended up in emergency rooms last year with toy-related injuries, and a new report lets parents and other gift-givers know which types of toys most often are the culprits.

The 34th annual “Trouble in Toyland” report from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group found that toys with small parts are the number one hazard. Report co-author Adam Garber said there’s a simple way to find out how small is “too small.”

“You can easily test a toy or other thing in your home by using a toilet-paper tube and dropping the small piece through,” he said, “and if it goes through, it’s likely a choking hazard.”

The research also warned against lead and cadmium found in cheap, imported toys, especially children’s jewelry and some musical instruments made in China. The consumer group also is calling on the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to establish limits on boron and its component borax, a toxic substance often used in kits to make slime.

Garber said certain products marketed to adults may be safe if used correctly, but warned that those items are very dangerous for small children, who tend to put everything into their mouths.

“Some of the other hazards we found were really strong magnets, in magnetic sculptures that are marketed to adults,” he said. “These sculptures, when swallowed, can bind up a child’s stomach – creating a need for emergency surgery.”

The report noted that two doctors in Oregon removed 54 of these magnets from four children in slightly more than a month. It also warned that balloons that haven’t been inflated yet or have popped continue to be a significant danger because of the risk of suffocation.

The report is online at uspirg.org.

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