In the news

OSPIRG
|
Bend Bulletin
By
Leon Pantenburg

 

Black Friday marks the day when the Christmas shopping frenzy officially

starts, and many will be looking for good deals on toys.

 

But a lower price doesn't necessarily mean a toy is a good choice. That

popular, small item may be dangerous and could cause injury or death.

 

Other toys may have toxic substances that could cause long-term health

issues. Or a toy may just be too loud and have the potential for causing

hearing damage.

 

That was the message given at a news conference Tuesday at the Deschutes

Public Library in downtown Bend with Matthew Orchant, a member of the Oregon

Student Public Interest Group. OSPIG is a consumer advocate group, and this

year's event marks the group's 26th annual “Trouble in Toyland” safety

report.

 

“We want to get this information out before Black Friday, because shoppers

are going to be buying lots of toys,” Orchant said. “They need to know what

to look out for.”

 

Some toys are considered dangerous, Orchant said, because they are small and

can be easily swallowed by a small child.

 

Between 2005 and 2009, 49 children choked to death in the United States

after getting a small toy caught in their throats, he said.

 

“Small children put anything in their mouths that they can,” Orchant said.

“Some things, like those small baby bracelets, or small action figures, are

easily swallowed and can get stuck in their throats.”

 

He said one way to screen for too-small toys is to take the cardboard

cylinder from a roll of toilet paper and see if the toy will pass through

it. If it does, that means the item is too small for the average 3-year-old

to safely play with.

 

About 80 percent of the toys sold in the United States are made in China,

and the two countries have vastly different safety standards, he said.

 

“Many of the toys made in China don't meet common-sense standards,” Orchant

said. “One example is excessively loud items.”

 

Anything with a noise level that exceeds 85 decibels when measured from 10

inches away should be considered too loud for children. Prolonged exposure

to those sound levels could eventually cause permanent hearing damage,

Orchant said.

 

“Generally, if adults think the toy seems too loud, it is too loud for

children.”

 

Rep. Jason Conger, R-Bend, attended the event. He said his interest in toxic

chemical levels in children comes from being the father of five and having

his 11⁄2-year-old daughter diagnosed with high lead levels.

 

At the time, he said, the family was living in an older home in

Massachusetts that, unknown to the landlord or the Congers, had lead paint.

A routine medical exam revealed high levels of lead on her skin. It was

probably from lead dust, Conger said, and the family moved immediately.

 

Subsequent tests showed no lead traces deeper in her body. Today, Conger

said his daughter is 12 and shows no long-term effects.

 

“My daughter felt fine, and had no symptoms of any sort of poisoning, but it

could have gotten worse,” Conger said. “My interest comes from that

experience, and we have to do whatever we can to keep our children safe.”

 

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