Is Santa Bringing Toxic Toys This Year?

According to Consumers Union, product recalls due to safety hazards were up 19% this year, with over 29 million children’s products recalled in the last 12 months alone and over 12 million toys recalled due to lead contamination.

A new law passed in August was designed to protect children from hazards in toys by tightening standards for lead and by banning phthalates outright in toys. These chemicals are causes for serious concern: lead is a known childhood developmental toxin, while phthalates have been banned in Europe for almost a decade due to suspected threats to the hormonal system, including risks of boys being born with smaller penises and undescended testicles.

Unfortunately, despite the continued flow of problematic toys into the US, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recently issued a legal interpretation of this law effectively delaying its implementation. The CPSC has ruled (in response to industry lobbying) that products manufactured before February 10, 2009, are grandfathered in and not subject to the new safety rules.

This means that toxic toys with phthalates can be sold on US toy store shelves not only this Christmas, but for many years to come. The Wall Street Journal reports that some toy makers are now stockpiling toys with phthalates and may be flooding the market with these products in order to sell off their inventory before the federal ban takes effect.

Particularly troubling for parents is that toy companies do not have to disclose the “ingredients” in their products. It is thus almost impossible to know whether a rubber ducky on the shelves contains lead, phthalates, or other hazards. US shoppers may unknowingly be purchasing unsafe toys during this and many future holiday seasons.

GoodGuide has been working to fill this gap in information by developing a database of safe toys that rates toys for lead, cadmium, mercury, phthalates, environmental performance, treatment of workers, safety recalls, and other issues. We have partnered with, the Center for Health and Environmental Justice, Healthy Child Healthy World, and the City of San Francisco, to pull together the best available information for concerned shoppers.

Today, we are releasing our ratings of the safest toys. Visit or download the newest update to our iPhone application for all of this data. You will be surprised to see how many products from famous brands still contain hazardous materials. And you will be relieved to know you can still find safe toys while you’re online or out shopping in a store – you just have to know where to look.

Arm yourself with GoodGuide’s information on safe toys, tell your friends, and then have a safe and healthy holiday!

About Dara O'Rourke

Associate Professor at UC Berkeley and Co-Founder of GoodGuide.
This entry was posted in GoodGuide Happenings, Health Issues, Home and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Is Santa Bringing Toxic Toys This Year?

  1. Shawn says:

    Wow, it’s pretty surprising to hear that toys can have so many risks! I’m disappointed that the government isn’t doing more to keep us safe, but glad that GoodGuide is helping to make this information available. I’m excited to see them add more products and more information!

  2. Greg Jenkins says:

    You are simply amazing. One day you are making false claims about toys and the next you are going on about your business like nothing happened. I think I would clean up my house before I started telling others how to clean up theirs. Get it fixed and then start back to work otherwise you might be providing the wrong info again and again.

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