Tips: How to Avoid Hazardous Children's Toys

Just because a toy or any other consumer product is being sold in a reputable store does not necessarily mean that the product itself is safe or even in compliance with government regulations. All too often, a toy is on the market for months, even years, before problems are identified. Here are some tips to keep your children safe:

  • Be On The Lookout For Toys That May Have Toxic Chemicals: Avoid buying toys made of cheap metals and materials, such as jewelry, trinkets, and other similar children’s products. If a piece of jewelry or trinket is inexpensive, yet is heavy for its size and looks like silver, it could contain hazardous metals. The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has a Federal Toy Safety Standard that limits the concentration of certain toxic chemicals in children’s products. Covered chemicals are lead, cadmium, mercury, antimony, arsenic, barium, chromium, selenium and phthalates. Click here further information on the CPSC standards.
  • Keep An Eye On Your Child: Because toxic chemicals can be on the surface of toys, jewelry, and trinkets, you should never allow your child to chew, suck on, or otherwise mouth these products. Swallowing small parts can be particularly dangerous. Since children commonly exhibit hand-to-mouth activity, practice regular hand washing as a safeguard against exposure to toxic chemicals.
  • Think BIG When Buying Toys For Infants And Toddlers: Follow the age recommendations on toy packaging, even if you believe your child is more advanced. Many toys have small pieces that are a choking hazard, especially for children under 3 years of age. To prevent choking, buy toys that are bigger than the child’s fist. Inspect all toys to make sure there are no small parts that could break off and be swallowed or choked on.
  • Check For Product Recalls: Check the CPSC website for information on children’s products that have been recalled due to health or safety concerns. You can also call the CPSC toll-free consumer hotline at 800-638-2772. If you own a recalled item, take the item away from your child immediately and either discard it or check the recall notice for information on returning it for a refund or replacement.
  • If you think your child may have been exposed to lead:
    • Talk With Your Child’s Doctor: Because it often occurs with no obvious symptoms, lead poisoning frequently goes unrecognized in children. In general, if you have any concerns about your child and lead – whether through exposure to children’s products, lead paint in your home, or any other source ask your health care provider about having your child tested. The federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires health insurance providers to pay for lead testing for children at risk. Check with your insurance provider to find out what’s included in your plan. In addition, Medicare pays for lead testing for all enrolled children. You can also contact your local health department to see if it has a lead testing clinic or arranges for testing children who lack health insurance coverage.
    • Contact Health Officials: For more information about protecting your child from lead poisoning, contact your local county health department or visit the New York State Department of Health’s Lead Poisoning Prevention website here.
    • For more information, contact the New York State Attorney General’s Office’s consumer hotline at 1-800-771-7755.

Updated 11/25/2014