In the news

MASSPIRG Education Fund
Metro West Daily News
Danielle Ameden


At first glance, My Little Pony’s Pinkie Pie, Leap Frog’s Chat & Count play phone and a Ninja Turtle pencil case don’t look dangerous.

But MASSPIRG, a nonprofit public interest organization, showcased the children’s toys as safety hazards Tuesday while unveiling its report, "Trouble in Toyland 2013."

The 28th annual report reveals some toys now on store shelves may contain high levels of lead and other toxins, cause hearing damage or could pose a choking hazard.

"When our researchers went out looking for potentially unsafe toys this fall, once again, we found dangerous products that could harm or poison a child," MASSPIRG toy safety advocate Michael Treco said at a morning press conference.

From the My Little Pony toy, with its easy-to-swallow, small detachable parts, to the pencil case containing high levels of cadmium, a highly toxic heavy metal, Treco demonstrated examples of the toys to avoid this holiday season.

While a new toy safety law set safety limits, some toys containing lead and other toxic metals are slipping through the cracks, Treco said.

MASSPIRG and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group this year found a vinyl toy called Marvel Super Hero Squad Soft Shield contained nearly 3,000 parts per million of lead, a neurotoxin, violating the federal standard for total lead by 29 times.

The play phone, meanwhile, designed for toddlers, exceeds decibel safety limits, Treco said.

Whether it’s chemicals, choking parts, small magnets or excessively noisy toys, parents and caregivers should shop carefully this holiday season and monitor what children are playing with, Treco said.

"The message today is clear: We need to protect our littlest consumers from unsafe toys," he said.

At Kiddie Lodge, a daycare center on Cherry Street, state Rep. Chris Walsh, D-Framingham, and Framingham School Committee Chairwoman Beverly Hugo joined Treco in speaking about the dangers of toys.

Hugo said she worries that corporate giants are putting their profits above the safety of consumers, and urged people to practice "prudent avoidance" of dangerous toys.

When it comes to choking hazards, Treco shared a tip to use an empty toilet paper roll. If a toy fits in the tube, it is likely too dangerous for children under age 3, he said.

To learn more about unsafe products or to report a problem, visit

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