Report: Dangerous toys causing hidden hazards for kids

Recalls and Consumer Alerts

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) — A safety watchdog group is warning consumers about toys that could be counterfeit and dangerous to children, especially when shopping for toys online.

The MassPIRG Education Fund issued its 36th annual “Trouble in Toyland” report Thursday, exposing the risks of counterfeit, recalled and hazardous toys.

According to the report, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has recalled 13 toys so far in 2021, and emergency rooms nationwide treated nearly 200,000 toy-related injuries in 2020.

MASSPIRG Education Fund researchers found two additional recalled products, a hoverboard and a children’s watch accessory that many would consider toys.

The recalled toys posed risks, including high levels of lead, potential ingestion by a child and small parts from easily broken toys.

Another major concern this year is knockoff toys that could be even more dangerous to kids.

Toys may look simple, but it’s not always easy to determine if a toy is safe or not, especially online, when you can’t inspect the item, and it may be mislabeled or missing a warning, such as a recall notice.

“Fake products sold by unreputable sellers have the potential to be unsafe, because they are unlikely to comply with strict product safety laws,” said Ed Desmond, executive vice president of The Toy Association, a not-for-profit trade organization.

He said reputable companies test their products for compliance with more than 100 different safety standards and tests required by law.

“These counterfeit toys might have small parts that can break off, may not be age-graded appropriately, or may pose other risks to children,” Desmond explained.

Here are the main categories in this year’s report:

  • Knockoff toys on the market: Knockoffs used to be found on a street vendor’s table. Nowadays, knockoffs and counterfeit toys can be bought online, often from overseas, where manufacturers don’t always follow U.S. regulations. Researchers identified knockoff toys on the marketplace and the safety concerns they can pose to children. Read the tips guide to learn how to avoid counterfeit toys.
  • Second-hand toys: People often sell their used goods online without checking to see whether they have been recalled. That can be a big problem when it comes to toys. Previously recalled toys were found for sale on eBay. 
  • Choking hazards: Researchers found discrepancies between website descriptions and warning labels for toys with small parts. Toys advertised for “age 2” had small parts that are unsafe for children younger than 3. 
  • Noisy toys: Noisy toys are not only a nuisance in the home, but also a risk to children’s hearing. Toy researchers identified five noisy toys and tested the noise levels while replicating how a child would use the toy. 
  • Smart toys: The report identified privacy issues concerning smart toys looking at three categories: cameras and recording devices built into toys, unsecure mobile apps used to control toys and personalized online accounts that store data specifically about the toy and the toy user. 

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