A report recently released by the American Association for Justice (AAJ) entitled, “Playing with Safety: Dangerous Toys and the Role of America’s Civil Justice System,” highlights hidden dangers posed by popular toys. Despite improved safety standards, toys continue to pose potential hazards to children ranging from choking to lead poisoning, brain injury and even death.
This United States imports over 30,000 tons of toys from foreign markets annually, accounting for approximately 95 percent of toys that are sold here. Since other nations do not have safety regulations as comprehensive as those enforced in the United States, imported toys are particularly dangerous as they pose various unknown dangers to children in the United States. For instance, earlier this year dangerous levels of cadmium (a toxic and cancer-causing metal prohibited in the United States) were discovered to be present in children’s jewelry made in China.
The AAJ pointed out in its article that the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is dangerously under-resourced to cope with the flood of new products entering the U.S. marketplace. Until 2007, the CPSC had only 15 inspectors to monitor all ports in the United States for all products, only one of whom was employed to conduct safety tests on toys.
Given the lack of resources and the limited power of the CPSC, dangerous products are often on store shelves for years before the public is aware of their dangers.