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tv   U.S. Public Interest Research Group on Toy Safety  CSPAN  November 21, 2018 10:01am-10:41am EST

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in washington, d.c., and around the country. c-span is brought to you by your cable or satellite provider. ahead of the 2018 holiday season, the u.s. public interest research group yesterday presented its annual report on toy safety. the briefing provided information on toys with toxic elements, choking hazards, -- dataagnets, it is collection capabilities, and excessive noise. >> all right. good morning, thank you all for coming. my name is mike litt. i'm the consumer campaign director with u.s. pirg education to fund. we're a nonprofit organization. i'm also pleased to be join rachel weintraub, the legislative counsel for the
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consumer federation of america. rachel will speak after i do and then we're happy to answer any questions that you have. then you can also come up. release to pirg education's fund 33rd annual toy safety report, trouble in toyland. the message today is clear, we must protect our youngest consumers from unsafe toys. parents and caregivers should watch out for common hazards when shopping for toys. over the last 30 years, our report has led to at least 150 recalls and other actions to get dangerous toys off of store shelves. sadly, our researchers once again found potentially unsafe toys this year on store shelves. first we're going to talk about slime. in recent years, slime has become a popular toy for kids to play with and mold into different forms.
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unfortunately our test results , showed six popular slimes that contain toxic levels of boron, likely in the form of borax. an ingredient found in many slimes. we found up to 15 times the european union limit. why is this a problem? when ingested, boron in moderate amounts can cause nausea, vomiting and long-term reproductive health issues. in small -- with just five grams, boron can be fatal for a child. a number of countries have taken action. canada, the european union, jordan, other countries have all taken action but in the united states, there is no limit for boron in children's products. without a warning label, parents are unaware of the potential dangerous of popular slime toys in their homes. that is why we're calling on lawmakers to require labeling for children's products with
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high concentrations of boron and -- we also want them to investigate what limits should be set. in the meantime, we're calling on parents to watch kids carefully when they're playing with slime and to call poison control if ingested. now, while some hazards may be hidden beneath the surface of a toy, the others are the toy itself, such as a balloon or small parts which can cause choking. we looked at five search pages for latex balloons filled on amazon, and found no choking hazards for 87% of the balloons
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sold. this means that someone might allow a child under the age of 8 to play with an under inflated balloon who would then accidentally inhale it and choke on it. the consumer product safety 2001ssion says that from to 2016, balloons accounted for about 40% of all toy-related choking fatalities reported to them. in fact, balloons are responsible for more childhood suffocation-related deaths than any other product. amazon is one of the world's largest sellers and it should make sure that all products, whether it directly sells them or not, have the legally required labels to make sure that not one single kid such suffocates on one of these balloons. the third topic is excessively noisy toys. they can cause hearing loss, which affects a child's ability
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to learn grammar, vocabulary and other aspects of communication. we found this toy plane which our audio tests indicate may make enough noise to cause hearing damage. allow me to demonstrate. [loud noise] >> imagine the kid playing with, putting it up to their herear. it could cause potential hearing damage. lastly, we want to talk about the growing market that we've been seeing for smart toys which are connected to the internet in order to provide additional functions, such as artificial intelligence-based interaction and response. the problem with these toys is that along the way, many of them are collecting data on your child, sharing it with others and potentially violating the privacy of your child.
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just last year, the f.b.i. issued a stark warning that many of these features may put the safety and privacy of children at risk because of the large amounts of personal information that may be unwittingly disclosed. our partners at the mozilla foundation found that the wonder shareop dash robot may user data with third parties. parents should evaluate the risk of these smart toys, what they know about your child, who they're sharing it with, how that information may used and how it might pose a security risk. progress has been made over the last 10 years in getting dangerous and toxic toys off store shelves but it's clear , that more work has to be done. it's clear that old hazards lurk and that new ones are cropping up. nobody should have to ruin the joy of a child opening a new present.
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just to run it through a battery of tests to make sure it's safe enough to play with. but when you do have choking hazards and toxic and privacy issues, it's clear that more work does have to be done. in the meantime, if you are giving a toy to a child this holiday season, you can check out all of our tips at toysafety you can read about our items today and how to evaluate in the -- evaluate common hazards in the marketplace. now i'd like to turn it over to rachel weintraub at the consumer federation of america. thank you. rachel: i'm with gentle counsel -- consumer federation of america, a non-profit association of over 250 organizations that was formed in to advance consumer interests through education, advocacy and research. c.f.a. is proud to stand with u.s. pirg today in releasing
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this report, trouble in toyland. this year's findings highlight that yet again, hidden hazards continue to pose risks to children. we congratulate pirg on this 33rd year of providing consumers with important information about how to avoid unsafe toys and find the right toys for the children on their list. the consumer product safety improvement act, which passed in 2008, gave new north to the u.s. -- gave new authority to the u.s. consumer product safety childrenn to protect from unsafe products, generally, and toys in particular. mandatory toy standards. lower lead limits. independent third-party testing. inspections,t stopping more dangerous toys then ever from reaching shelves in the united states. the cpsia created, an online database where consumers and
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can report information and research about toys that they own or are considering purchasing. the cpsia also requires that consumers purchasing toys online see the same relevant safety warnings that they would see in a brick and mortar store. parents, and all consumers, should continue to carefully research and select the safest and most appropriate gifts for the children on their toy and gift wish lists. manufacturers should ensure that they comply with the law. continued cpsc enforcement, adequate funding, and action is necessary to further protect our children. the cpsc must rigorously conduct recalls to get potentially harmful toys out of homes and then she went off of store
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shelves, off of online sites, out of people's homes, -- it should be at the forefront of child safety and should take early, effective and decisive action to protect children from hazards poised by toys. levy civilst also penalties to deter a lack of complance and violations with the law. parents and others can make toys safer by reporting hazards to and by looking at before they purchase the product. consumers should also check to make sure that the products they own or wish to purchase haven't been previously recalled. pirg's report found problems with compliance with the provision that requires choking hazard warnings online. pirg found balloons, 87% of what they found looking at a number of source pages, with no choking
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hazard warnings at all, which is a violation of the cpsia. as mike mentioned, balloons are a leading choke hazard and two children died from choking on balloons in 2015 and 2016. it is critical that no matter where a person shops, whether online or in a store, that they see the same required choke hazard warning to inform their purchasing decision. the cpsia sought to make that equivalent, to not put someone at a disadvantage if they are not in a store. especially with the growth of online toy sales, it is imperative that every online retailer take this provision seriously and comply with the law. and the cpsc must work to make sure every retailer is complying. the cpsc recently released their annual toy-related injury and death data for 2007.
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cpsc identified that 13 children died from toys in 2007 and that there were 251,700 injuries serious enough to require emergency room treatment. the cpsc recalled 18 toys in 2018. this is down from 28 toys recalled in 2017. in 2016, there were 24. and this is in contrast to 2008, the year of the recall, when there were 172 toys recalled. in fiscal year 2018, the cpsc seized more than 750,000 toys at u.s. ports for violating toy safety standards. this is a slight increase from the previous year and this collaborative work between the
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cpsc and u.s. customs and border patrol prevented these toys from entering the u.s.. this is critical work that must continue. hidden hazards could be lurking in your homes. it's imperative that children's products not pose harm, not contain lead or other toxins. they should not ignite fires or cause serious health consequences from ingestion or exposure. some popular products slime, , which i know is prolific in my personal home contain high , levels of boron. other countries have taken action. the european union has a ban on the amount of boron that could be in a product. canada has warned consumers about this potential hazard. the cpsc should be at the forefront of protecting children and should take action to limit the amount, should do research to figure out what that amount is and at a minimum immediately warn parents of this danger.
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serious danger is also opposed to children and teens by high-powered rare earth magnets, which are over there. rare earth magnets can pose a risk to children with a serious hidden hazards that parents don't anticipate. if more than one magnet is swallowed, they can rip personal internal tissue, posing serious health threats that often go undetected until it is too late. unfortunately there was a strong rule that has been struck down and these products are appearing again in the market and are available for sale. we urge families not to purchase these products for their children and we urge the cpsc to work quickly to finalize a health protective rule. , kids incfa, pirg danger, and other organizations
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have been working to improve recall effectiveness. while 18 toys have been recalled in the past fiscal year, it is imperative that we make sure the consumers who actually own the toys are aware of the recall and take action to get the recalled toy out of the hands of their children. last year, the cpsc outlined that the average rate which a consumer participates in a corrective action is abysmally low. it is about 6%. ranging from 4% for products with a retail price of less than $20, and reaching 32% for products with a retail price of $10,000 or more. this is absolutely unacceptable given that lives are at stake. the cpsc must do vastly more to improve recall effectiveness.
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we urge the cpsc to ensure more robust approaches to outreach, encourage incentives for consumer responsiveness to recalls, learn from technology and marketing experts whose jobs are to communicate information about products. improve data collection and formalize, strengthen, and better define what success means for recalls. we applaud u.s. pirg's work on toy safety and lock forward to -- look forward to working with them, with other consumer, medical, and safety organizations, with the cpsc, and others to protect children from hazards posed by unsafe toys. we wish everyone a happy and safe holiday season. thank you very much. >> you have -- that are at the top of the popular toy list for 2018. can you tell us what's wrong with those toys? >> happy to.
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thank you for the question. with hatch a mole and the l.o.l. toys, this was an issue of small parts not being properly labeled online with amazon at walmart. basically, the issue here is that for children under three, you actually can't market toys that are either small enough or have parts that can fit into the small parts choke test tube. they're not suitable for kids. they're not legally allowed for kids under three. but if you have a toy marketed for kids between three and six, they have to come with the choking warning label. unfortunately, while the labels are on the toy's packaging in the physical form, they actually aren't properly labeled on the websites where you can buy them. >> quick question on that. the image on the website, on amazon, of the packaging.
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does that count? if you were to zoom in you can see the warning restrictions and age restrictions. or does it need to be labeled in the product description, in amazon's own product description? >> yes, you just said it. you have to click on the image and when you look at the image, you can't really read it so then you have to zoom in on it. really we're talking about the safety of children here. at least in that particular link that i saw, where that image is, really you have to have the legal -- have to have the warning prominently labeled so people can see it. >> do you request that those small parts not be even made and available for kids? >> well, i mean, the issue here is that they're definitely a problem for kids under 3, a potential problem for kids under -- for kids between three and
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six. and there are other kids out there that once they're old enough, they can safely play with those toys. in that case, it's a matter of disclosure. >> if i could be clear about what the standards are. for products for children three and under, there are not allowed to be small parts. but for products for older children, if they do have small parts there has to be this clear ,, conspicuous choke hazard warning and it's this warning that is not clear and conspicuous online. >> so it's more with the retailers, not necessarily the toy manufacturers then? >> it could be. it depends on the communication between the online retail center and the manufacturer, but there certainly are -- at this the law has been in point, effect for quite a while and both the online retailers and the manufacturers certainly know that the warning should be explicit and clear.
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again, the point is that this online experience is replacing the experience in a store and those warnings should be as clear and make the same impact to a consumer considering whether that toy is the right toy for the child on their list. >> also, i noticed on the report that it seems that amazon and walmart seem to be the only retailers who seem to not be following the rules. other big boxers like target and stuff, where they have these products, did they follow the rules? >> i'm actually not sure offhand. i know that we looked at 40 different products this year in a variety of settings, brick and mortar as well as online. the issues we highlighted were the ones we found on those particular websites. >> when you have products that are marketed to three and under, six and under, how are you
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determining if these products are actually being marketed to those specific age groups? >> there's an analysis that manufacturers take. cpsc has guidelines for evaluating the age-appropriateness of toys. they consider all different factors that go into the age labeling of a product. and then once that determination is made, that triggers different legal requirements. >> you're saying that those legal requirements were not met, even in the case of hatchimals and the lol toys? retail,e case of online the hazard warnings required for products that contain small parts, when the product is age graded for an older child, that that warning label was not clear and conspicuous, which is what is required by the statute. >> i would like to add, one of the things that we are calling
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for is for the consumer product safety commission to look into this and determine whether or not these online retailers are violating the law by not having the legally required labels. >> how hard could it be to put that warning online for the product and why aren't they doing it? >> i agree with you. it's not hard at all. we're talking about the world's largest -- some of the world's largest sellers. they absolutely should do whatever it takes to make sure kids are safe. i can't speak to why they're not doing it. >> the other question i have is about the slime. if it's banned or totally controlled in europe and canada, why isn't the u.s. being more enforceful about it? >> i don't know why not but i absolutely agree with you that we should have limits in the united states on children's products with high concentrations of boron.
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again, we are talking about inins where if you ingest it moderate amounts, can cause vomiting, nausea, and long-term reproductive health issues. aboutain, we are talking countries, a number of countries that have actually taken action, and that does include canada, the european union, jordan, and a host of other countries as well. standard thatu you reference, should these regulations be the same as eu standards? that is not necessarily what we are saying. we want the consumer product safety commission to investigate what limits should be set. we want policy makers to also require some kind of labeling for children's products with
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high concentrations of or on, but we do believe it is up to them to investigate, to determine what those limits should be set at. have you tested all of the slime made by kangaroo? i don't know if we've tested all of the slime that's available out there for kangaroo. i know that we tested a number of different slimes out in the marketplace and we found six that had high concentrations or toxic levels of boron. reporter: and you said this year you tested 40 products overall? ke: 40 products overall. again, that's out of the thousands of toys that are out there and out of the 40 we found 150 with some kind of issue. -- so what this really shows is that yes, we are making products and getting toxic and dangerous stores off shelves but clearly there are some falling through the cracks. so it's very clear that more
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work needs to be done. one thing that i'd like to add, it's really important that we do share this information and that parents and caregivers are on the lookout for potential problems but at the end of the , day, you shouldn't have to be a detective. you shouldn't have to worry that the toy you're giving a child might be toxic or dangerous and that's why it's vitally important that regulators, policymakers, toy sellers, toy manufacturers do more to make sure that dangerous toys don't even make it into the hands of our kids. reporter: -- and if i could reiterate i think because of the cpsia, , because of 33 years of pirg's toy report, we have made great progress. we know that 750,000 products are stopped at the ports. we know that there are fewer toys that contain lead. we know that there's now
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required third-party testing for toys. these are important, but consumers still need to be vigilant, and there are more tools to help them be vigilant, like looking online to make sure product they're considering purchasing hasn't been recalled. really thinking about what sets -- what fits in this choke test tube? are they giving the toy to an older child who has younger siblings? there's more tools, more information that consumers should use. ,ut the bottom line is the cpsc the united states should be at the forefront of child safety. in some ways, we've made great progress, but in other ways, there's a lot more work to do. mike: i also feel like it wouldn't quite be the u.s. pirg education fund report without providing this tip, that parents can use a standard sized toilet tube roll as a choked test
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. basically, if a toy or a loose part of the toy can fit in this, it is not suitable for children under three years old. it seems like there is a sort of difference of kind between painted slime, a parent doesn't have -- tainted slime, a parent does not have a laboratory to test boron levels. it tot point do you leave discretion? a balloon is on the other end of the spectrum. -- uld say that rachel: i would say that parents don't need to be detectives. most parents should assume that a product that is available-for-sale is safe -- that is much closer to being true then it is before, but it is not always the case area of course parents need to do research to make sure they are
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picking the right product, but really, toys should be designed for safety from the earliest stages before they enter a consumer's home. reporter: because of the popularity of slime, it has also spurred an online -- rachel: do-it-yourself -- reporter: -- that's right. where do you stand on the responsibility of --? rachel: there is the mass market , where you can purchase pre-purchased slime, and a robust market, where my nine-year-old may or may not be making it at all times. i personally did research and said that she cannot use borax. there are ways to make slime out of materials, such as lotion and glue that don't pose risks. for do-it-yourself products,
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when anything is at your disposal, i think consumers should do some research on how to make it as safely as possible. and there are ways to make slime without borax at all. add to theted to answer to your question. rachel is absolutely right. on the one hand, we shouldn't have to be detectives, we shouldn't have to worry. some of the tips for parents, precautions they can take, at least for the toys we have discussed today. if we are talking about slime, watch your kids carefully when they are playing with slime. call poison control if they ingest it. balloons, it is important to know that they are a choking hazard for children under eight. keep uninflated balloons away from children. we are not just talking about whole balloons, even pieces of
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broken ones can be choked on. talking about small parts, you've got this at home. if the toy or a part of it fits in this, then you know it isn't suitable for kids under three. talking about excessively noisy toys, you would take the battery out, you might even consider not having this in the home at all. if you are talking about smart the warning. consider the cyber security and privacy risks of even bringing a smart toy into your home. there are a number of precautions parents can take, like rachel said., andso recall you can sign up for alerts for recalls, report unsafe toys at there's a number of things you can do. oforter: one point
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clarification, you mentioned a drop in product recalls. does that an indication of regulations becoming more lax, or -- to know whys hard that is. there are fewer recalls coming out this year. it is hard to know why. there was a distinction of about 10 recalls, i believe last year there were three or 18. it is hard to know what is causing that lower number, but i'm very careful not to say that it is a sign of success, because we don't know why that is. are there significant changes in the market from this year to last year? it is unclear. is it action, a different level of action by the agencies? we don't know.
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so i'm careful not to draw conclusions one way or another from that number, that it is definitely worthy of investigation and we need to understand why. mike: the other thing i'd like to add is that of the recalls that took place within the last total, 3.7 -- units. the other thing is a requirement that companies actually keep track of how many units are being returned to them, because one of the concerns we have is that it is important that recalled toys are no longer sold. but what if they are already in people's homes, and these recalls aren't necessarily reaching parents and caregivers? questions? rachel: one other thing i could do is show you, these are rare earth magnets.
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arises -- this isn't going to work. this just tells you how incredibly powerful these magnets are. -- first of all, you can see how small they are. if a child swallows them, it is hard to tell whether there are any missing. some children and teenagers use these two mock of piercing of their nose or lip. if a child swallows more than one of these, you see that my is much thicker than stomach lining. swallowing one of these can rip through stomach lining, causing severe injuries, the need for expensive surgery, and more. and unfortunately, because the rule was struck down, we are seeing more of these coming onto the market, and we adamantly urge parents not to purchase these for children.
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reporter: do you see them improperly labeled online? a differentthis is issue. these are rare earth magnets, theoretically not sold, originally, there was some ambiguity -- these are sold as adult products, not considered toys by the toy industry or others. the toy standard actually has a very strong provision to ensure that hazards from strong magnets do not proliferate in toys. this is a different issue. these were originally sold as , but many,products many children got their hands on them. many parents bought these for their children. they are sort of an interesting, innovative product.
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but they are not intended for children, should not be in children's hands, and it is hard to tell if any are missing. the hazards are truly hidden, and the consequences of ingesting more than one or serious. serious.han one are concludes our 33rd annual toy safety report release. thank you for coming. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2018] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] [overlapping chatter]
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>> monday on c-span -- thursday at 8:00 p.m. eastern, supreme court justice elena kagan, followed by chief justice john roberts. friday at 8:00 p.m. eastern, former governor chris christie and others discuss the opioid epidemic. saturday at 8:00 p.m., photojournalists talk about their favorite photographs on the campaign trail. eastern, 6:30 p.m. guns and self-defense. generaltv, retired stanley mcchrystal talks about 13 great leaders.
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political writer derek hunter -- saturday at 8:00, pulitzer prize-winning photographer, then josedario, antonio vargas on american at 5:30tv, thursday p.m. eastern, on american artifacts. the first english thanksgiving at berkeley, virginia, near jamestown, in 1619. reflections on former first lady barbara bush. saturday at 8:00 eastern, how the pilgrims became part of america's founding story. sunday at 9:00 a.m., constitutional scholars philip bogdan and akhil reid amar, talk about how the u.s. constitution impeachable
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offenses for the president. >> who was martin van buren? >> good question. but we need to ask that question. martin van buren was the eighth ,resident of the united states and he is often forgotten. his presidency was only four years long. q&a, the biography of president martin van buren. >> he spent a lot of time with murderer., hamilton's and there were rumors persist and throughout than beer and's ife,throughout van buren's l so much so that -- but john quincy adams once wrote in his diary, that martin van buren looks a lot like


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