Safety Group Issues Holiday Toy Warnings

A warning for parents heading out to shop for toys this holiday season -- look out for hazards such as small parts, soft plastics and lead contamination.

Officials from U.S. Public Interest Research Group displayed some of the dangerous items in La Jolla on Tuesday.  Although increased consumer protections were approved this summer, U.S. PIRG warned parents that those rules have not yet gone into effect.

In its 23rd annual "Trouble in Toyland" report on hazardous playthings, the organization focused on three hazards: small parts that can choke children who are younger than 3-years-old, lead-tainted toys and soft plastic toys that contain chemicals called phthalates.

The tube at the center of a toilet paper roll is perfect for testing whether a toy is small enough to pose a choking risk. If a toy, or a piece of a toy, fits into the cylinder, it is too small for children under three, said Michael Russo of the U.S. Public Interest Research Group

In terms of lead-contamination officials said parents should absolutely avoid children's metal jewelry.

Phthalates are a big concern for the organization this year. These chemicals are widely used to make plastic products softer and can cause health problems.

The consumer-safety legislation President George W. Bush signed in August set a standard for plastics containing phthalates. But the Consumer Product Safety Commission says manufacturers can keep selling phthalate-containing toys until the current stock runs out, because the law does not apply retroactively.

For more information, visit, the Toy Industry Association and the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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