Popular toys contain toxics, other hazards, consumer group reports

Credit: U.S. PIRG

WASHINGTON - Consumer advocacy group U.S. PIRG released its 33rd annual Trouble in Toyland report Tuesday.

The report found toxic amounts of boron, which can cause nausea, vomiting and other health issues, in slime products, as well as finding that Amazon failed to appropriately label choking hazards.

Key findings from this year’s report include:

Hazardous Slime: A number of popular "slimes" had toxic levels of boron, likely in the form of borax, up to 15 times the European Union’s limit. According to the U.S. EPA, ingesting boron can cause nausea, vomiting, long-term reproductive health issues and can even be fatal.

Missing Online Choking Warnings: In a survey of five search pages for balloons sold on Amazon, U.S. PIRG found no choking hazard labels on 87 percent of the latex balloons marketed to parents of children under 2, an apparent violation of the law. Among children’s products, balloons are the leading cause of suffocation death.

Privacy-Invasive Smart Toys: The report also highlights two smart toys -- a robot toy and a tablet -- with privacy concerns discovered by an investigation by the Mozilla Foundation. Every year, the potential for smart toys to expose private data becomes a more significant concern.
Given the popularity of slime, that class of toys was a primary focus.


While there are currently no limits on boron in children’s toys in the United States, U.S. PIRG called for placing warning labels on products and a full public hearing to determine safe levels of boron.  

“Regulators need to determine the appropriate health-based standards to protect children from boron in slime. In the meantime, we want parents to know the risks, so they can supervise their kids accordingly,” said Tano Toussaint, U.S. PIRG's consumer watchdog associate.

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