Unforeseen Hazards Contribute to Toy-Related Injuries

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For Immediate Release: December 1, 2010

Contact: Jennifer Fuson
202-965-3500, ext. 8369
media.replies@justice.org

Unforeseen Hazards Contribute to Toy-Related Injuries

New report shows how civil justice system improves child safety

Washington, D.C.—Unforeseen hazards are still finding their way into toys despite recently improved safety standards, illustrating the need for a strong civil justice system that protects children and holds negligent manufacturers accountable, according to a new report released today by the American Association for Justice (AAJ).

For years, corporations have knowingly shipped toys with hidden dangers like small parts, loose magnets, asbestos, and other toxic chemicals until outrage from parents and civil actions forced regulators or manufacturers to act.

“As toys have become more sophisticated, so too have the risks associated with them,” said AAJ President Gibson Vance.  “Protecting our children requires vigilance from everyone. Regulators, parents, manufacturers, and the civil justice system all play a part in keeping dangerous toys off store shelves.”

For example, earlier this year unsafe levels of cadmium were found in children’s jewelry, a toxic metal known to cause cancer and ranked as seventh on a federal list of the 275 most hazardous substances. An investigation found the origin of the metal was likely China, where the use of the toxin had been prompted, ironically, by the recent prohibition of using lead.  The U.S. imports more than 30,000 tons of toys every year from foreign markets, accounting now for 95 percent of toys sold in the U.S.

While regulators lack the resources and staff to police the market, parents, consumer groups and the civil justice system have stepped into the void.  In 2007, a popular CSI Fingerprint Examination Kit contained a powder found to contain up to five percent asbestos, potentially sending lethal tremolite asbestos into the air and into children’s lungs. Once the hazard was known, manufacturer CBS Consumer Products refused to remove it from store shelves as Christmas approached. Rather than wait for the Consumer Product Safety Commission to negotiate a recall, the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization filed a civil action to stop sales of the kit.

The report, titled, “Playing with Safety: Dangerous Toys and the Role of America’s Civil Justice System,” details how the public learned about little known dangers hidden in today’s popular toys.  The report can be found at www.justice.org/toys.

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