Parents fond of the phrase “don’t put that in your mouth” may read the latest report from the California Public Interest Research Group as avidly as a suspenseful page-turner.

Some toxic toys. (Vinnee Tong/KQED)

CalPIRG released its annual list of toxic toys on Tuesday. It found some potentially dangerous stuff on shelves ahead of the holiday buying spree. The list is not comprehensive; the organization visited retail stores and just looked for potentially dangerous items.

CalPIRG Consumer Advocate Jon Fox said the three biggest sources of danger from toys are choking, toxic ingredients and loud noise-making that could hurt children’s ears.

A simple way to prevent choking hazards, Fox said, is to use something most families already have in their homes: A toilet paper roll can be used to determine if a toy is too small to be safe. If it’s small enough to fit, it’s too small for a three-year-old.

See the full Trouble in Toyland (PDF) report here.

Here are some of the more familiar toys on the list and the reason they landed there:

  • Little Hand Love book (Piggy Toes Press)
    Why It Made the List: Lead content

  • BBF sleep mask (Claire’s)
    Why It Made the List: Potentially toxic level of phthalates

  • Hello Kitty eye shadow keychain (Sanrio)
    Why It Made the List: Potentially toxic amount of lead

  • Tinkerbell watch (Disney)
    Why It Made the List: Potentially toxic amount of lead

  • Sesame St. Oscar doll (Sesame Workshop)
    Why It Made the List: Choking hazard from garbage-can lid

  • Elmo’s World Talking Cell Phone (Fisher Price)
    Why It Made the List: Potential Noise Hazard

  • Super Stunt Rat Bomb (Hot wheels)
    Why It Made the List: Potential Noise Hazard
  • Richard Hilicki

    An article regarding Little Hands Love, one of our Piggy Toes Press, Touch and Feel Books was published today by several print and web sources, including the Patriot News, and the Public Interest Research Group (PIRG).

    The article claims that this book, Little Hands Love has lead levels exceeding the current US lead standard. Our actual safety/ lead testing lab results for Little Hands Love show that this book meets all US standards. Our tests were conducted by Bureau Veritas a major 3rd party testing company approved by major retailers including Walmart and Target. The test results have been updated as of August 30, 2011. Test results for all of our children’s products are updated annually. These results clearly show that Little Hands Love meets all US safety requirements and poses no safety issue to children one and above, for whom the product is age graded.

    Email me at and I will send you a copy of the actual testing report.

    Piggy Toes Press proudly stands behind its products which meet or exceed all safety guidelines.

    I thank you for the opportunity to correct the record.


    Richard Hilicki
    Dalmatian Press.


Vinnee Tong

Vinnee Tong is a producer and reporter at KQED.

She's the producer of Truth Be Told, the KQED special series on race and identity that is distributed nationally by Public Radio International. Vinnee has also worked as an on-call producer for KQED’s live public affairs program Forum. Prior to joining KQED in 2011, she was a reporter covering business news at the Associated Press at the start of the Great Recession.

Vinnee has won several awards for her reporting work, including an RTNDA Edward R. Murrow Award for coverage of fracking in California, as well as awards from the New York Press Club and the Society of American Business Editors and Writers. She is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She lives in San Francisco with her husband and son.

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