Pediatricians at Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital in Columbia demonstrated several toys that are considered dangerous by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group ahead of the holiday shopping season.
“We must protect our youngest consumers from unsafe toys and parents and caregivers should watch out for these common hazards when shopping this holiday season for toys,” Dr. Sara Sheehan said. The PIRG released its annual “Trouble in Toyland” report this week.
Some of them are among the most popular and asked-for toys this season: slime and electronically-interactive devices.
The doctors said many slimes contain a toxic level of boron, usually in the form of Borax. The amount present can be 15 times the upper-level limit established by European governments. However, the United States has no limitations on boron levels. Doctors also say slime products are usually not labeled that they contain the mineral.
“The studies have shown that that chemical inside this slime could cause nausea, vomiting, reproductive issues in children and can be fatal if ingested in significant amounts,” Dr. Jeff Holloway said.
Another group of toys under scrutiny are electronically-interactive toys, considered “smart toys,” which use an internet connection or associated apps.
“Unfortunately many of these toys can collect data on the children, share consumer information and even potentially violate a child’s privacy,” Sheehan said. “Last year the FBI released a warning that these features could put the privacy and the safety of children at risk due to the large amount of this information that can be unwittingly disclosed.”
Doctors recommend if a child is given an active item such as a bike, scooter or hoverboard, they also be provided with helmets and proper safety protection. That protection should fit the child, not be purchased larger so that “they can grow into it.”
“Unfortunately every week I see probably an injury that could have been at least less severe if using proper safety equipment,” Holloway said. “We have seen, unfortunately, a number of kids with ingestions and the magnets being one of the worst-case scenarios.”
The doctors said toys that contain magnets and button batteries are not recommended for young children due to concerns over ingestion. They said if a piece of a toy can fit inside a tube of toilet paper, a child can swallow it.
Doctors also discussed concerns about toys that make noise. If the sound is too loud, remove the batteries or cover the sound holes with duct tape.
Although the Consumer Product Safety Commission recalls toys that have safety issues, “Trouble in Toyland” reports such toys may be available online. The doctors said manufacturers and retailers cannot be trusted to identify unsafe toys.