WASHINGTON — As holiday shopping prepares to enter high gear, a national consumer safety group is raising concerns about what it calls “dangerous and toxic” toys on store shelves.
The toys highlighted in the U.S. Public Interest Research Group’s annual “Trouble in Toyland” report include fidget spinners that contain unsafe levels of lead, internet-connected “smart” toys that may surveil children’s activities, and toys that pose choking hazards but aren’t properly marked.
“We should be able to trust that the toys we buy are safe. However, until that’s the case, toy buyers need to watch out for common hazards when shopping for children’s presents,” said Dev Gowda, with the U.S. PIRG Education Fund.
The report calls out what it said were unsafe levels of lead in two brands of fidget spinners previously sold at Target and online.
The Fidget Wild Premium Spinner Brass, which is distributed by Bulls i Toy, LLC, contained 300 times the legal limit for lead in children’s products, according the group. The Fidget Wild Premium Spinner Metal, which is also distributed by Bulls i Toy, also tested over the legal limit for children’s products, the group said.
Lead guidelines issued by the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission only apply to toys marketed to children 12 and younger.
While the packaging indicated the gadgets were intended for children age 14 and older, PIRG said it found them in the toy aisles at Target stores around the country and marketed on the Target website as recommended for children ages 6 and up.
After the consumer group first raised concerns over the lead levels in the fidget spinners, Target agreed to stop selling the gadgets. But PIRG said the retailer and the feds need to issue a recall.
The report also warns about toys with small parts that pose a choking hazard for young children. The group said it found several toys that contained small parts that weren’t properly labeled, including a peg game and travel football and golf games on shelves at Dollar Tree.
PIRG said Dollar Tree also sold several balloon sets that were improperly marketed to children under the age of 8 or contained misleading warning label. The consumer group said balloons “pose the most serious choking hazard” to children because they can be accidentally inhaled and lead to suffocation.
Finally, the report also included a warning about high-tech, internet-connected toys that may be improperly collecting information on young children.
One toy that might pose safety issues, PIRG said, is the “My Friend Cayla” doll made by Genesis Toys, and which the group said has been sold at Wal-Mart and Kohl’s.
Consumer groups have filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, alleging the toy, which contains an unsecure Bluetooth microphone, collects personal information, such as audio files of the child’s voice, name, location and IP address.
Earlier this year, the toy was banned in Germany, and authorities urged parents to destroy the doll’s microphone.
Last week, another consumer safety group, World Against Toys Causing Harm, unveiled its list of toys that pose safety risks for children.