Play slime singled out in annual 'Trouble in Toyland' survey of unsafe toys

Steve Tawa
November 20, 2018 - 5:36 pm
Trouble in Toyland

Steve Tawa | KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) -- The consumer advocacy organization PennPIRG is out again with its "Trouble in Toyland" survey, warning parents about dangerous toys on store shelves, as the holiday gift-buying season gets into full swing. This year, trendy "slime" toys are coming into focus.

Sine young children are known to put everything in their mouths, Tano Toussaint, Consumer Watchdog Associate at U.S. PIRG, says they found "significant concentrations" of the chemical boron in slime toys.

Kids use it to mold and shape into different forms," Toussaint explained. "It comes in all sorts of colors, multi-color, neon and more."

He says the substance in slime products can cause problems, if ingested. Unlike the European Union and elsewhere around the globe, he points out the U.S. does not have established standards on limits for boron in products.

"We found quantities up to 15 times the European Union's limit," Toussaint said.

This year, U.S. PIRG surveyed 40 toys and found 15 with issues, including more obvious hazards, like toys with small parts that can be choking hazards, as well as latex balloons.

"Latex balloons cause more suffocation deaths than any other product," Toussaint said.

They surveyed those products on Amazon, many of which he says were widely mislabeled.

"We found that 87% of online listings for latex balloons lacked choking hazard labels," he said.

Then Toussaint grabbed a hand-held, close to the ear toy. 

"This toy can produce sounds that may exceed standards and cause hearing damage," he explained.

Jefferson Hospital pediatrician Dr. Amanda Micucio, who treats young children who put things in their mouths, noses and ears, says it's important to make sure that "small parts of these toys don't fall into small hands."

"It's important to make sure that toys are appropriate for the age of the child," said Micucio.

Congressman Dwight Evans says consumers should not blindly trust the toys that they see on store shelves.

"When they buy it, I don't think they think about how it has an impact on them," Evans said.

The Toy Association says the report "is deliberately misleading and frightening to parents and undermines the toy industry’s deep and ongoing commitment to ensuring that toys are safe."

It says toys are among the safest consumer product categories found in the home, adding "all toys sold in the U.S., regardless of where they are produced, must be tested and certified compliant before reaching store shelves or consumers."

Over the past 30 years, PennPIRG's annual reports have led to more than 150 recalls of unsafe toys and other regulatory actions.