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Report on danger in toys finds fewer lead problems, but other hazards remain

Physicians say button batteries are a potential hazard for small kids.
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Physicians say button batteries are a potential hazard for small kids.

An annual report from the Public Interest Research Group on potentially hazardous toys highlights some big safety improvements—and new dangers.

PIRG’s annual survey examined hundreds of toys for a number of potential hazards.

None of the toys this year tested positive for lead, but three did test positive for another restricted metal—chromium.

Dr. Jaime Hope, an emergency medicine specialist at Beaumont Hospital, says regulations are making some toy makers more creative.

“So if they can’t use lead anymore, they’re going to substitute with a different type of heavy metal, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s safer,” she says.

Hope and other physicians also warn to look out for toys that can break into small parts or make excessively loud noises.

Physician groups also warn that similar hazards now extend to other products kids might use like toys.

Erica Surman manages the pediatric trauma program at Beaumont Hospital. She says little coin-like devices called “button batteries” are particularly dangerous.

“Button batteries can burn the esophagus, even after they’re removed,” says Surman.

She says those button batteries have to be held in place on toys with screws — but that’s not a requirement for other common devices like key fobs.

You can read the report here.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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