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Remember Dan Aykroyd and the Bag O' Glass toy on "Saturday Night Live"? Playing a spokesman defending a product, Aykroyd said, "Look, we put a label on every bag that says, 'Kid! Be careful -- broken glass!' "
Satire aside, the Oregon Student Public Interest Research Group's 26th annual "Trouble in Toyland" report says there are still toys on store shelves that contain lead or other hazardous ingredients or that pose choking or other physical hazards.
Brian Rae, an advocate with OSPIRG, said by email that parents can find a sample list of potentially hazardous toys at www.toysafety.mobi. He also shared these specific tips for toy-shopping:
- Avoid toys made of PVC plastic, which might contain industrial chemicals known as phthalates that may pose health hazards.
- Read labels on play cosmetics to see if they contain potentially toxic xylene, toluene or dibutyl phthalate.
- Avoid toy jewelry, which can contain high levels of cadmium or lead.
- When buying wooden or cloth toys, choose ones that are not painted.
- For children younger than 3, avoid toys that are small enough or have parts small to fit inside a toilet paper tube -- they pose choking hazards.
- For children younger than 6, avoid balls with a diameter smaller than 2 inches, also to prevent choking.
- If you buy toys that make a lot of noise, take out the batteries or cover the speakers with tape to protect your child's hearing.
- Beware of toys with magnets. If a child swallows more than one magnet, the magnets will attract each other in the digestive tract and cause injury. Get medical help right away if your child swallows a magnet.
- Beware of toys with button batteries -- the acid inside can injure a child who swallows one.
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