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Thursday, December 22, 2011

What’s Safe and What’s Not? How Toys Stack Up

By Rachel Lincoln Sarnoff

Have you checked your toy list twice? Wait, let me rephrase that: Have you checked the list of what’s in your toys twice? I just discovered the toy database at, which ranks more than 20,000 toys or toy components, organized from “none” to “high” levels for dangerous chemicals.

I checked my list against theirs—my daughter’s coveted Baby Alive is a low, thank goodness—and crossed off a few, noting the irony of one “green baby” shirt weighing in with dangerously high levels of lead and arsenic. Sheesh!

Especially this time of year, it’s worth looking into what you buy. In November, the Illinois PIRG Education Fund released their 26th Annual Survey of Toy Safety report, which found that lead, a known neurotoxin, is still a problem, with several toys exceeding the generous 300ppm standard set by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, and a few more even topping the 40ppm standard set by the American Academy of Pediatrics. (Download the report here.) A second report, released by the Environmental Health Strategy Center, Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families and the Safer States coalition, echoed the PIRG study’s finding that the hormone disruptor bisphenol A is still of concern in children’s toys, too.

And we’ve already reported the latest data on buying electronics for kids, which made me think twice about my teenager’s wish list.

What’s a concerned Santa to do? Don’t panic! Yes, shopping smarter takes a little bit more time, but the results—a healthier holiday haul for your kids and a message to manufacturers that better toys sell better, too—are so worth it.

Posted by: Rachel Lincoln Sarnoff at 3:53 pm

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