“Town Hall on Toy Safety”: CPSC Talks to Parents About New Rules Aimed at Making Toys Safer

At a Town Hall meeting held in New York City, the discussion centered around new federal safety rules that are in place for toys that will give American consumers greater
November 17, 2009
Release Number: 10-039

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- At a Town Hall meeting held in New York City, CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum was joined by parents and consumers to talk toy safety. The discussion centered around new federal safety rules that are in place for toys that will give American consumers greater confidence when they go shopping this holiday season. Chairman Tenenbaum informed the audience that starting this year:

-federal limits for lead in paint on children’s toys dropped to 90 parts per million, which is among the lowest in the world;

-toys for children 12 and younger must now be tested and certified that they meet the new lead in paint limits;

-children’s toys cannot be made or sold with more than 300 parts per million of total lead;

-children’s toys cannot be made or sold with more than 0.1% of six prohibited phthalates;

-and most children’s toys now fall under mandatory standards, instead of voluntary ones.

“It is important to make safety a priority when making your holiday toy purchases this season,” said Chairman Inez Tenenbaum. “CPSC has worked hard this year to give parents and grandparents greater confidence that the toys they seek to purchase have enhanced safety protections for children.”

So far in calendar year 2009, CPSC has had 38 toy recalls, which is down from 162 in 2008 and 148 in 2007. Toy recalls involving lead paint are also down. This year there has been 14 recalls involving lead, down from 63 in 2007 and 85 in 2008. CPSC attributes this decline to increased enforcement at the ports, cooperation with other nations, consumer awareness and education and compliance by the industry with new federal safety rules.

For 2008, the Commission has reports of 19 toy-related deaths and about 172,700 hospital emergency room treated toy-related injuries (pdf) to children under 15. Almost half of these injuries, approximately 82,300 were to children younger than 5 years of age. Most of the deaths were associated with drowning, motor vehicle involvement, or airway obstruction from a small toy or small part of a toy.

Here are some safety steps consumers can take while shopping this holiday season:

-Scooters and other Riding Toys – Riding toys, skateboards and in-line skates go fast and falls could be deadly. Helmets and safety gear should be worn at all times and be sized to fit.

-Small Balls and other Toys with Small Parts – For children younger than age three, avoid toys with small parts, which can cause choking.

-Balloons - Children can choke or suffocate on un-inflated or broken balloons. Keep un-inflated balloons away from children younger than eight years old. Discard broken balloons at once.

-Magnets – For children under age six, avoid building or play sets with small magnets. If magnets or pieces with magnets are swallowed, serious injuries and/or death can occur.

Once the gifts are open:

-Immediately discard plastic wrappings or other packaging on toys before they become dangerous play things.

-Keep toys appropriate for older children away from younger siblings.

-Charging batteries should be supervised by adults. Chargers and adapters can pose thermal burn hazards to young children. Pay attention to instructions and warnings on battery chargers. Some chargers lack any device to prevent overcharging.

Along with educating the public, CPSC is equally committed to working with foreign and domestic toy manufacturers, importers, and retailers to help them understand and comply with these new requirements, while keeping their doors open and their businesses competitive.

Consumers can also view a video clip about this town hall meeting.