Trouble in Toyland report endorsed by doctors at VCH

Just before the traditional peak of the holiday shopping season, U.S. PIRG (Public Interest Research Group) has released its 19th annual toy safety report. On Nov. 23, several toys were demonstrated for their potential hazards at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. Veronica Gunn, M.D., assistant professor of Pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital talked about the types of injuries that are commonly seen each year involving toys.

"Balloons, and toys that have parts small enough to be inhaled are still a concern," Gunn said. She demonstrated the use of a "toy test tube," a plexiglass tube that can be used to determine if a toy or toy part is a choking hazard. "Many parents don’t realize that what the tube represents is the actual size of a large child’s airway. If a toy can fit into the tube it can be inhaled, but worse yet, if a child’s airway is smaller than the tube, the toy might completely block the airway, quickly leading to death."

Gunn said a toilet paper roll is also roughly the size of a large child’s airway and can be used by parents to judge choking hazards. The issue with balloons is that if a balloon pops as a child bites down on it, the rubber can be sucked into the airway creating a perfect seal that can be almost impossible to remove in time to save a child’s life.

U.S. PIRG toy safety reports have led to more than 120 enforcement actions including recalls by the Consumer Product Safety Commission over the past 18 years. In its executive summary this year, U.S. PIRG said, "Toys are safer than ever before, thanks to decades of work by product safety advocates and parents and the leadership of Congress, state legislatures and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Nevertheless, as parents venture into crowded malls and browse for the perfect toy on the Internet this holiday season, they should remain vigilant about often hidden hazards posed by toys on store shelves."

To View the full report including a listing of specific toys U.S. PIRG found to pose a hazard, go to


To consumers and parents:

Be vigilant this holiday season and remember that:

  • The CPSC does not test all toys.
  • Not all toys available meet CPSC regulations.
  • Toys that meet all CPSC regulations may still pose hazards, ranging from choking to hearing loss to chemical exposure.
  • Online toy retailers do not have to provide the same safety warnings that otherwise are legally required on the packaging of toys sold in stores.
  • Be aware of "hand-me-down" toys. Keep younger children away from toys with small parts designed for their older siblings.

Contact: Carole Bartoo, 322-4747

Kate Prevost, 404-429-5239