5 On Your Side

Even Toys That Meet Safety Standards Can Be Harmful to Children

Posted December 6, 2006 11:13 p.m. EST

Billions of dollars are spent during the holiday season on toys. They can be fun and educational, but they can also be harmful.

When 2-year-old Jake Keller played with a seemingly innocent toy, it turned tragic. He choked on a plastic nail from the Playskool Team Talkin' Tool Bench. He is one of at least two toddlers who died this year while playing with it.

The toy was recalled in October, but the tool bench meets current safety standards.

"This toy was age-graded for children 3 and older, and it met the federal standards for that age group," said Don Mays of Consumer Reports.

There is no choking hazard warning on the Playskool Team Talkin' Tool Bench. The Consumer Product Safety Commission's recall notice even states "…the toy nails are not considered a small part."

<i>Consumer Reports</i> said the problem is that many toy parts, including the 3-inch plastic nails from the toy tool bench, pass the current government test.

"Using the standard gauge for screening out choking hazards for young children, you can see that this toy easily passes the test since it doesn't fit into the tube," Mays said. "We think a better device is using a standard toilet paper tube. And if the toy fits all the way into the tube, it fails the test. This is a better screening tool."

<i>Consumer Reports</i> said there is another problem -- toys are not always properly age-graded. The Team Talkin' Tool Bench was labeled for children three and older, but considering it talks and its brightly-colored tools have fun sound effects, a child younger than 3 may want to play with it, too.

The federal government does not test all toys. Plus, all toys on shelves do not meet government regulations and some that do may still be dangerous.

Recalls often start with consumers reporting problems. If you find a toy that presents a choking or any other type of hazard, you should report it to the Consumer Product Safety Commissionor call 800-638-2772.