29 September 2009

The Latest News on Toy Safety


dangeroustoys.jpgThe holidays are behind us, but toy safety continues to dominate parents' concerns. There have been several recent developments parents should be aware of, as the issue of toy safety has not been resolved. Recalls continue almost daily, especially for lead paint standards violations.

Export Licences [sic] of 600 Toy Makers Revoked

China is cracking down on toy makers in an effort to save the industry. "We have thoroughly inspected all 3,000-plus toy makers for export during the rectification work that began last August," said State Administration for Quality Supervision and Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) Deputy Director Pu Changcheng. Changcheng also blamed overseas importers for design flaws and changing standards that created the current recall situation.

Toy Makers Mount Drive to Salvage China’s Safety Reputation

The US Toy Industry Association is attempting to salvage the image of toys made in China, and the toy industry remains committed to making toys in China. They claim there is no realistic alternative to Chinese manufacturing. “Are you going to pay twice as much for a doll because it’s not made in China?” Mr. Shoptaugh, owner of Shoptaugh Games, added. “The thing is you cannot make these products in the United States and have them be competitive on the shelf.”

Goodbye to Bob

The one and only toy tester at the Consumer Product Safety Commission has retired. Robert L. Hundemer, a.k.a. Bob, started working at the CPSC in 1980, where he tested toys for small parts and dropped them from heights to see if they broke. He called his facilities, "the toy lab for all of America -- for all of the United States government!" The agency does use chemists for testing toys for lead, which was not part of Bob's job. "I'm not saying manufacturers are nefarious," Bob said. "They understand the sales value of a toy; they don't understand risk." Bob has not been replaced, and his duties have been assigned to other staff members.

The Ecology Center Healthy Toys Website

The Ecology Center, the non-profit who broke the news on the toxicity of children's car seats, tested over 1200 popular children's toys for toxic chemicals. HealthyToys.org provides a consumer action guide for parents. “The government is not testing for toxic chemicals in toys, and too many manufacturers are not self-regulating, so we created the nation’s first toy database to help inform and empower consumers,” said Tracey Easthope, MPH, Director of the Ecology Center’s Environmental Health Project. “Ultimately consumers need to compel the federal government and toy manufacturers to eliminate dangerous chemicals from toys.” The Ecology Center focused on lead, PVC, cadmium, arsenic, mercury, bromine, chromium, tin and antimony. Consumers can also nominate toys for future testing on the website.

MyThings.com Recall Alert Service

MyThings is offering parents a free service to find out if their children's toys have been recalled.

Instead of wading through the Consumer Product Safety Commission site every day for new recalls or relying on local TV news, parents can list things (toys, child & baby products) they own on MyThings.com, and we do the monitoring of both the U.S. & U.K. recall websites every day to find new recalls. Whenever we find a match between a recall & a registered item, we send an email notification to the user informing them of the recall.

You can also view the most recent recalls on the website. Even though I receive email notifications from the CPSC on recalls, there were recalls on MyThings.com I had not seen.

Of course, this is not an exhaustive list on the recent developments on toy safety. If you know of any recent toy safety news or have found a great natural toy manufacturer, please post a comment. Together, we can help protect our children!

Image courtesy of Gizmodo

"Play is the highest form of research." -Albert Einstein