Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Experts in Tampa underscore dangers of unsafe toys

TAMPA — An imitation smartphone that plays music loud enough to cause hearing loss. A toddler's play mat laced with antimony. A plastic action figure so small it could lodge in a child's throat.

Those are a few of the children's toys showcased Tuesday at St. Joseph's Children's Hospital as examples of the many "dangerous" and "toxic" items that are still widely available for purchase. The gathering, organized by U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor and Florida Public Interest Research Group, highlighted the dangers of such seemingly harmless toys and served as a call for greater regulations to prevent them from entering the marketplace.

"Just because a toy is on the shelf doesn't mean it is completely safe," said Castor, D-Tampa. She pointed to PIRG's annual Trouble in Toyland report, the result of a research effort that revealed an assortment of potentially harmful toys available for sale.

Among the report's findings were high levels of lead and other toxic substances in many toys. Those include the Lamaze Take and Tidy Activity Mat, a large toddler's play mat in which PIRG found traces of antimony, a toxic element. And there was the Chat and Count Smart Phone, an imitation phone whose various noises register at 85 decibels, well beyond the 65-decibel limit imposed under federal law.

The toys are available despite federal regulations, including the 2008 Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, designed to prevent them from entering the U.S. market. However, even the event's organizers conceded that such regulations appear to have tempered incidents of toy-related accidents.

"When you look at the statistics, accidents are down, but you have to remember that you cannot guarantee 100 percent safety," said Dalyn Houser, program associate for Florida PIRG. "Parents have to stay vigilant in picking which toys to buy for their children."

St. Joseph's Children's Hospital, which partnered with Castor and PIRG for the news conference, distributed tip sheets for avoiding potentially dangerous toys.

Their advice included selecting toys labeled nontoxic, inspecting toys using a toilet paper roll (items able to fit inside a toilet paper roll are considered choking hazards) and avoiding toys with sharp edges and missing pieces.

To view this year's Trouble in Toyland report and PIRG's guide to unsafe toys, visit

On Tuesday, the Florida Public Interest Research Group named some toys that it found can be harmful to children. The list, made public after months of research, was released to educate the public before the holiday shopping season.


On Tuesday, the Florida Public Interest Research Group named some toys that it found can be harmful to children. The list, made public after months of research, was released to educate the public before the holiday shopping season.

Experts in Tampa underscore dangers of unsafe toys 11/26/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 26, 2013 9:43pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays late-night bullpen shuffle: Alvarado, Pruitt down; Kolarek up


    The Rays shuffled their bullpen again after Tuesday's game, sending down struggling LHP Jose Alvarado along with RHP Austin Pruitt to Triple-A Durham, and turning next to LHP Adam Kolarek, who will make his major-league debut at age 28,

  2. Tampa Bay Times honored for top investigative story in Gerald Loeb annual business awards


    The Tampa Bay Times was a co-winner in the investigative category for one of the highest honors in business journalism.

    Tampa Bay Times current and former staff writers William R. Levesque, Nathaniel Lash and Anthony Cormier were honored in the investigative category for their coverage of "Allegiant Air" in the 60th Anniversary Gerald Loeb Awards for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism. 


  3. Pasco woman gives birth to child fathered by 11 year old, deputies say


    A Port Richey woman was arrested Tuesday, nearly three years after deputies say she gave birth to a child fathered by an 11-year-old boy.

    Marissa Mowry, 25, was arrested Tuesday on charges she sexually assaulted an 11-year-old and gave birth to his child. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  4. For good of the Rays, Tim Beckham should embrace move to second

    The Heater

    PITTSBURGH — The acquisition of slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria said a lot of things, most notably that the Rays are serious about making in-season moves to bolster their chances to make the playoffs, with a reliever, or two, next on the shopping list.

    PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 27:  Tim Beckham #1 of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrates with teammates after scoring during the eighth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on June 27, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) 700011399
  5. St. Petersburg showdown: Kriseman faces Baker for first time tonight at the Rev. Louis Murphy Sr.'s church

    Local Government

    A standing-room-only crowd packed a Midtown church banquet hall Tuesday to witness the first face-off between Mayor Rick Kriseman and former mayor Rick Baker in what is a watershed mayoral contest in the city's history.

    Former Mayor Rick Baker, left, is challenging incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman, right, to become St. Petersburg mayor.