Wednesday, December 5, 2007

What's next?

When my kids were infants and then toddlers, I spent many hours checking out toys to see if they had a part that could come off and get lodged in their throats. I checked recall lists to make sure that a toy we owned wasn't on any of them.

I removed all strings from jackets so that it cold not strangle them. And all my blinds had the cords tied up so that they couldn't get near them and hang themselves.

As they got older, I began to relax a little. Until now.

Earlier this year, I discovered that the Mag Stick Magnetic toy had been recalled. We had a set of these and normally I wouldn't worry because my children are past the mouthing stage. But I have caught both of my boys at one time or another with some small toy in their mouths. It terrifies me that not only could they choke on one of these magnet balls but, if more than one magnet is swallowed, it could cause intestinal perforation.

Then the whole lead scare started. In June, the Consumer Product Safety Commission issued the single biggest recall of toys containing lead paint. The culprit- Thomas and Friends wooden railway toys. In August, Fisher Price recalled 83 types of toys including including the popular Big Bird, Elmo, Dora and Diego characters -- because their paint contains excessive amounts of lead. And then in September, Mattel, the parent company of Fisher Price, recalled 675,000 Barbie accessory toys for the same reason.

And it looks like there is no end to the toys that are being recalled. Aqua Dots has now been discovered to be covered with a chemical that metabolizes the same as the date rape drug.

As if it wasn't already hard enough to find toys with some educational value to them, now as a parent we are forced to consider if the toys we buy are secretly a ticking time bomb slowly poisoning our children.

As I was Christmas shopping this year, I had to really think about the toys that I was sticking in my cart. Normally, if I saw a toy in the dollar section at Target, I would have thrown it in the cart without a second thought. This year though, I was reading labels to see if it contained those taboo words "Made in China". It's a scary thing that nothing seems to be safe anymore.

Now that the lead issue has been bradcast by the media and people have become more aware, youwould think that the numbers of dangerous products would be diminishing from store shelves. But a Michigan based environmental group has found otherwise. They test 1,200 toys and found that 17 percent had lead levels that exceed the federal recall standard of 600 parts per million.

If you are like me, you will want to check out the list of toys that are not made in China published by Toys R' Us. While you still have to be careful about what you buy, this list can provide you with a starting point. Another good website that lists toys by brand or type along with a listing of any chemicals found in them is

If you want to see if any toys you already own have been recalled, go to They have a list of recent recalls as well as links to the government website that has toy recalls as far back as 1974. Another great reference site is

If you feel so compelled, check out to sign a petition to stop the manufacturing and distribution of toxic children's products.