Are Toys Safer This Holiday Season?

By Britney Glaser - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - 25 million toys were recalled last year because of lead and other health hazards.  In this Healthcast, 7News looks into the results of a new Consumer Report evaluating the safety of toys this holiday season.

Toy shelves appear to be somewhat safer than a year ago, according to a Consumer Reports investigation released this week.  Bob Tiernan with Consumer Reports says, "Some big retailers have imposed new safety initiatives and strict federal regulations are being phased in over the next year."

In products primarily intended for children, new Consumer Product Safety regulations put limits on the total amount of lead to 600 parts per million starting in February 2009.  And that limit will be lowered to 300 parts per million in August 2009.

Some big retailers, including Wal-Mart, say they've already instituted new safety measures. Toys-R-Us says all new products coming into its stores must meet the government's 300-parts-per-million limit now.

A Consumer Reports' investigation has found that products it identified last year as high in lead are largely gone from store shelves.  That includes the red cuff on the Fisher-Price blood pressure monitor.  "We found a few of these in one store and one online," says Tiernan.

While Consumer Reports' tests last year found the caps of some Elmer's glue sticks contained lead, a screening of these new glue caps found they do not contain the toxic metal.  Tiernan says, "You still need to be careful because lead-tainted toys and metal jewelry have not been completely eliminated."

Home lead tests can be a useful first step in screening for surface lead. Consumer Reports recommends these three kits: the Household Lead Check, the Instant Lead Testing Kit from Lead Check, and Abotex's Lead Test Kit.  But, be aware they can't detect lead beneath the surface.

*Even if a toy has been recalled, it can still turn up in yard sales or online. To check whether or not a toy has been recalled, click here.

*For any new product you buy, it's recommended that you fill out the registration card if it's offered so that the manufacturer can alert you if the product is recalled.