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Consumer group issues alert on dangerous toys.

Byline: The Register-Guard

They seem benign: the child's tool bench, the magnetic construction set, the pint-sized bracelet. But those popular toys all pose a danger to children.

They've been highlighted by the Oregon Public Research Interest Group's annual toy safety survey.

For the past 21 years, the consumer group has published its Trouble in Toyland review to alert parents to dangers lurking on store shelves just as holiday purchasing begins.

"While we can report substantial progress after more than two decades of advocacy on behalf of America's littlest consumers, OSPIRG still found trouble in toyland," said OSPIRG campus organizer Anne Guthrie in a news release.

In 2005, 73,000 children age 5 or younger received emergency-room treatment for toy-related injuries, and 20 children died, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

"Even one toy-related death is too many, because these deaths are preventable," Guthrie said.

This year's report highlights toys that pose choking hazards, magnetic toys and lead-containing jewelry.

Despite the fact that toys with small parts are regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which bans them for children under 3 and requires warning labels for those under 6, researchers found many that had small parts and lacked the required label.

Playskool recalled its Team Talkin Tool Bench after two children suffocated on plastic nails from the toy that became lodged in their throats.

The small magnets in Magnetix brand toys proved lethal when a young boy swallowed two that perforated his intestine.

The toys carry warning labels, but are still available.

Lead, which can cause delayed mental and physical development, is still found in children's jewelry. Last year a 4-year-old died after swallowing a bracelet charm that was 99 percent lead.

OSPIRG researchers easily found jewelry items containing as much as 34 percent lead, according to the report.

Because the Consumer Product Safety Commission doesn't test all toys, buyers should carefully examine them before purchasing, and then report any injuries to the commission, the report said.

TOY ALERT Consumers can check these reports before buying OSPIRG: Trouble in Toyland at .asp?id2=28933 Federal guidelines for safe toys at www.cpsc .gov/cpscpub/prerel/ prhtml07/07032.html
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Title Annotation:Health
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Nov 22, 2006
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