MONDAY, Dec. 1, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- This holiday season, all kids on Santa's list are vulnerable to toys that can pose real health risks, a new report finds.
There are toys with toxic chemicals, small toys that are choking hazards, toys that are so loud they can damage hearing, and toy magnets that can cause serious injury if swallowed, says the annual "Trouble in Toyland" report from the Public Interest Research Group (PIRG).
"We should be able to trust that the toys we buy are safe. However, until that's the case, parents need to watch out for common hazards when shopping for toys," Sean Doyle, a campaign organizer, said in a news release from the group's Connecticut branch.
Laboratory tests revealed that some toys contained toxic chemicals, including lead, chromium and phthalates. All of these chemicals are thought to be able to cause serious harm to children's health.
A badge playset and a toy tambourine were among the items with high levels of toxic chemicals, the report said.
Despite a federal ban on small parts on toys for children younger than 3 years old, toys that pose a choking hazard are still being sold, the group found. There are also toys that can harm children's ears and hearing, as well as small, powerful magnets that can be extremely dangerous to kids if swallowed.
And while some stores adhere to national toy safety guidelines, many others do not. "Our report includes unsafe toys found in dollar stores, big box stores and online," Doyle said.
"Over 250,000 children were treated in emergency departments for toy-related injuries last year," Dr. Steven Rogers said in the news release. He is an attending physician at the Connecticut Children's Medical Center emergency department, in Hartford.
"The most deadly injuries are usually due to choking hazards like small toy accessories intended for older children. These injuries are preventable, so as parents we need to make sure our children are safe this holiday season," Rogers said.
An easy way to check if something might be a choking hazard is to use a common item found in every household. "If something is small enough to fit inside a toilet paper roll, it is a choking hazard" Dr. Scott Schoem, division chief of otolaryngology at Connecticut Children's Medical Center, said in the news release.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has more about toy safety.