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NY research group releases list of potentially hazardous toys

Tom Magnarelli
Examples of some of the toys which are potentially hazardous.

The New York Public Interest Research Group released its annual report on potentially hazardous toys for children this year. NYPIRG is focusing on four areas of hazards:  toxicity, choking, magnets and excessive noise.

One of the examples of hazardous toys is the Fun Bubbles Jump Rope. The research group said it found high levels of chemicals called phthalates in it, which are used to make plastics softer but are connected to adverse reproductive and developmental health effects. NYPIRG is calling for further testing. The Minions Locking Pencil Case, Slinky Jr. and Magnetic Numbers all had high levels of chromium, which can cause allergic reactions.


Brittania Smead, one of the project managers, said parents should use an empty toilet paper roll as a measure to determine if something could be a choking hazard for children under six. Just because it doesn’t fit in the tube, like Disney Pixar’s “Finding Nemo” Dory Figurine, does not mean it is necessarily safe.

“It broke off in like three seconds when we tried it out, and it fits inside the choke tube so I think that’s another thing for parents to keep in mind," Smead said. "The small parts that are on the larger could break off really easily.”

Nickelodeon’s Mermaid Dora could do the same thing. But balloons are the number one choking hazard for children.

The report also warned about magnets that could cause severe damage if swallowed and require invasive surgery.

Nina Hilmarsdottir-Putzer, a NYPIRG intern at Syracuse University, said one area the group focused on was excessive noise. Toys such as the Vtech Spin and Learn Color Flashlight and Fisher Price Click and Learn Remote were estimated to be too loud.

"That's something to keep in mind for parents, think about how the child would be using it," Hilmarsdottir-Putzer said. "Similar to small parts looking like food and kids thinking they should eat it, if it looks like a phone and it's loud, there's going to be more of a tendency to hold it right next to your ear."   

More information can be found at toysafetytips.org and saferproducts.gov.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.