Reports on dangerous toys will be a recurring topic on this blog. Intended for harmless fun, recklessly manufactured toys continue to maim and kill children. U.S. PIRG reports that 292 children have died in the US between 1990 and 2005: a rate of between 11 and 25 per year. The majority of these deaths (57%) are due to choking or asphyxia. In late 2006 the CPSC ordered a recall of a Mattel “Polly Pocket” doll house with small magnetic accessories after children were treated for intestinal perforations after ingesting these magnets. More recently, the CPSC has recalled several toys and types of children’s jewelry because they contain lead.
These cases, and many more like them, illustrate is that there is something wrong with the relationship among toy manufacturers, the public and the agencies that oversee safety. The fact that the toys and other items in question are typically recalled after injuries and deaths occur, or after independent bodies determine that they are made with unsafe materials or chemicals, raises concerns about the interests of the toy industry and its inability or unwillingness to rigorously test its own products or to clearly and thoroughly label its products, informing all purchasers of all potential hazards. Unfortunately, parents, teachers and other adults who oversee what children play with, cannot take for granted that a toy is safe just because it is sold in a store in the United States and is marketed to children