Consumer groups warn shoppers about popular toys

Nov 17, 2017
Originally published on November 17, 2017 6:12 am

The holiday season is getting underway, and many parents have already begun shopping. But Judy Braiman of Empire State Consumer Project has a warning about some of this year’s popular toys and gifts.

She says that popular gifts like fidget spinners, silk-screened clothing and metal jewelry pose serious risk due to high levels of toxic metals, specifically lead and cadmium.

“Some of the [spinners] do break apart into small parts and that would be a choking hazard. Apparently the biggest problem that we’re finding is the lead and we did find a little Cadmium in there too. Cadmium is another heavy metal and it is much more toxic than lead," she said.

Fidget spinners may be found in toy aisles but they’re actually categorized as general use products, subjecting them to different standards. Some are also labeled for older teenagers, but Braiman said this can misleading; everyone is at risk of poisoning from heavy metals.

“The main problem this year has been with the fidget spinner....(many spinners were tested) and one in particular, the Wild Fidget Spinner  had 33,000 parts per million of lead and the regulation for children’s toys with lead is a hundred.”

Braiman added that, “There is no amount of lead that is safe because it accumulates in the child’s body. Or anyone’s body.”

The group also called attention to carcinogens in driveway sealants and popular weed killers. Adult laxatives were on the list this year again due to growing number of anecdotes that find a correlation between using the laxatives for children and neuropsychiatric issues, like aggression or anger. The FDA has granted ESCP to study the link more.

“What’s shocking to us is the labeling- how they’re getting away with it. This is starting to show up in the last few years, basically," Braiman said. She added this can lure people into a false sense of safety.

Braiman said products like "boppy" pillows can pose a suffocation risk, and should be used for breastfeeding. Yet on some packages, they show the pillows used as a propping device but never clarify that can infants can roll over and suffocate. There are also greeting cards that play music when you open them and Braiman says they can pose a choking or fire risk.

Overall Braiman warns of the “dirty dozen” or 12 products that can poses a risk including metal jewelry, toys from China, toys with small parts or magnets, and clothing with drawstrings.

“Why don’t they test things before they get on the shelves?” she asked, saying much of the onus falls on consumers to be aware of their purchases but with fewer resources than businesses and consumer groups, most don’t know what they're buying or how to begin getting them tested. She says for that reason, businesses must step up.