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Trouble in Toyland report warns of toys with lead, privacy concerns

Marylee Williams

Wisconsin Public Radio

A consumer advocacy group's annual report detailing toys that may be hazardous lists a fidget spinner with more than 300 times the allowable limit of lead — the toy is now off the shelves at Target.

The Fidget Wild Premium Spinner Brass is one of 40 toys included in U.S. PIRG's 32nd annual Trouble In Toyland report, which warns shoppers of potentially hazardous or deadly toys with risks that include choking, privacy, poisoning, and more.

The fidget spinner, which was labeled for children 14 and up, was found in toy aisles at stores and marketed online for children ages six and up, according to WISPIRG, a nonpartisan organization focused on consumer advocacy.

Emma Fisher, WISPIRG campaign organizer, said the lead level in the fidget spinner was "completely shocking."

"It’s like the hot toy of the year, and they’re sold at stores like Target online, on the shelves," Fisher said. "Three-hundred times the allowable limit is just completely unacceptable."

Lead requirements are different for adults and children. A federal mandate requires third party testing for toys labeled for children under age 12.

"We’re saying that regardless of the age labeling, fidget spinners clearly have play value for children of all ages, including children under 6," Fisher said.

Fisher also said consumers need to start being aware of internet-connected toys this holiday season. The report singles out My Friend Cayla, which can be purchased at stores and online in the United States. The toy was banned in Germany for privacy concerns.

The FBI issued a warning about internet-connected toys in July.

Choking is the leading cause of toy-related deaths, 114 children died between 2001 and 2015, according to the report.

WISPIRG Director Peter Skopec said shoppers should look out for small or loose parts in toys that could be choking hazards, and he recommended testing the items with an empty toilet paper roll.

"If a toy or part of a toy fits through an empty toilet paper roll, then it’s too small for kids under the age of 3," Skopec said. 

The Consumer Product Safety Commission recalled 32 toys between October 2016 and 2017, according to the report.

Wisconsin Public Radio, © Copyright 2017, Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System and Wisconsin Educational Communications Board.

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