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Defective children’s products may include familiar toys

Nine children, under age 15, died in the U.S. in 2013 from injuries involving toys, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Two-thirds of the deaths were due to choking or asphyxiation. The harmful products were familiar toys – balls, marbles, toy foods and balloons.

The death count was relatively small but child injury numbers, in Illinois and around the country, were much higher. The CPSC reported 188,400 toy-related injuries, requiring emergency hospital treatment in 2013 for children under 15. The toy fatality and injury rates were improvements over previous years, but caused unnecessary suffering for vulnerable child victims and their families.

The U.S. Public Interest Research Group releases surveys about toy safety every year. The consumer advocacy group examines toys on the market and reports defective children's products. The organization's efforts are aimed at prompting product recalls and pushing for legal changes to curb the sale of unsafe toys.

Children may be injured in several ways by toys. Exposure to dangerous toxins like lead, chromium and phthalates may affect or harm physical and mental development, cause serious allergic reactions or, in some cases, increase cancer risks. Sometimes, the size or parts of a toy are dangerous, particularly for very young children.

U.S. PIRG's 2014 report included evidence of choking hazards and illegal levels of toxins in police badges, child-size tambourines, backpacks, hair accessories, foam blocks, balls and balloons. Some toys contained magnets and batteries that could choke and, when ingested, kill small children.

The advocacy group pushes the CPSC to adopt stricter rules like standard toy sizes, severe limits on toxins and mandatory warning labels. The government and consumer advocates work with manufacturers, international lawmakers and importers to keep unsafe toys off U.S. store shelves.

Attorneys take action on behalf of parents whose children have been injured or killed in toy-related accidents. Negligent product makers can be liable for damages.

Source: Illinois PIRG, "Trouble in Toyland 2014" Dec. 03, 2014

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