The below information is taken directly, word for word, from the American Association for Justice’s online pamphlet “Why We Need the Civil Justice System: TOYS“. The American Association for Justice is a group of trial attorneys, nationwide, who devote their time to protecting the injured and their families.
Children’s jewelry is more likely to contain lead or other toxic metals than many other toys. Even after 18 million pieces of children’s jewelry were recalled between 2005 and 2007, CPSC tests still found that 20 percent of children’s jewelry contained unsafe levels of lead. Even after manufacturers stopped using lead, the danger was not over, as many began to use the carcinogenic metal cadmium as a replacement. What’s more, the vast majority of recalled items were never actually returned, meaning toxic jewelry remains on children’s dressers.
Nearly a quarter of a million children are treated at U.S. emergency rooms for toy-related injuries every year. Injuriesfrom scooters, choking hazards, and lead-contamination are always in the news, but beyond the headlines lie a myriadof dangers: beads that contain date rape drugs, asbestos and other exotic toxins, baby boats that drop their infantoccupants under water, toy helicopters that catch fire, or aromatherapy kits that detonate with acid. Every year bringsnew hazards to confound even the most cautious parent.
Over the last several years, toy manufacturers have increasingly used small, powerful magnets, creating a newcategory of deadly toys. These magnets can come loose and be swallowed by small children. Unlike other small objects,which are often passed through the body, magnets pose a unique risk. If two or more magnets are swallowed, they canattract to each other through intestinal walls. This can result in pinched, blocked or twisted intestines. The effect is fastand devastating. Magnets quickly erode through the intestinal wall, spilling bacteria into the body. Serious infections, blood poisoning, and even death may result.
The danger most frequently encountered with toys is invisible to even the most watchful parent’s eye: leadcontamination. Lead is the second most deadly household toxin in existence, after arsenic, and nolevel of exposure is safe. Yet every holiday season is marked by incidences of children being sickened bylead-tainted toys. One study found a third of all tested toys contained lead. Most were still on store shelvesand allegedly passed toy manufacturers’ internal tests.
The choking hazards of small toy parts, small balls, and balloons have long been one of the leading causesof toy-related fatalities. At least 196 children died from choking on such items between 1990 and 2007, andchoking hazards were the leading cause of CPSC toy recalls in 2009. Yet the millions of recalled toys mayjust be the tip of the iceberg. Many toys still on shelves barely meet the CPSC standard for small pieces.Of particular danger are objects that are narrow in shape, such as toy nails or darts, because they can moreeasily cause suffocation. In 2007, at least two boys died after asphyxiating on soft darts from Chinesemadetoy guns. The toy’s importer refused to recall the gun. At least one other child died under the samecircumstances before a civil action by one of the families persuaded the retailer to pull it off shelves.
Scooters account for approximately a quarter of all toy-related emergency room visits. Most of the more than220,000 incidents each year comprise falls or accidents involving motor vehicles. But defective scooters have alsobeen blamed for amputated fingers, lacerations, broken arms, wrists, and teeth.