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Choking Hazards Continue to Pose Danger in Children’s Toys

A recent and comprehensive survey on toy safety conducted by U.S. PIRG cited choking hazards as one of the top dangers posed by children’s toys. Between 2001 and 2012, more than 90 children died from choking incidents. Often times, these toys contain improper labels causing parents or relatives to mistakenly purchase the toys for children under the age of 3.

Choking – on small toy parts, on small balls, on marbles, and on balloons – continues to be one of the major causes of toy-related deaths and injuries. In 1979, the Consumer Product Safety Commission banned the sale of toys containing “small parts” if the toys are intended for use by children under the age of three, regardless of the content or placement of any labeling or age recommendation. A “small part” is defined as any toy or toy part that fits inside a “choke test cylinder,” which has a diameter of 1.25 inches and a slanted bottom with a depth ranging from 1 to 2.25 inches. The cylinder is designed and tested to replicate the size of a small child’s fully expanded throat. If the toy contains a “small part” that poses a choking hazard, it cannot be designated as intended for use by children under the age of three.

Despite the 1979 regulation and numerous other regulations governing the manufacture, design, and labelling of children’s toys, the recent PIRG study made the following conclusions regarding children’s toys and choking hazards:

  • some toys are not currently in compliance with the CPSC’s labelling requirements;
  • small ball-like toys, toy parts, and rounded food toys pose especially high choking hazards;
  • “near-small” parts may also pose choking hazards to young children (defined as toys that barely pass the small parts toy cylinder test described above)

Sadly, toy manufacturers and retailers do not always prioritize the safety of the young children using their products.  If you or your child has been injured because of a defective product or because of the negligence of another, do not hesitate to contact one of the experienced attorneys at Swartz & Lynch. 



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