Avoiding Holiday Safety Hazards to Kids

Wednesday, December 19, 2012 - 7:40am

Lead in Some Toys is Not the Only Problem

Every holiday season brings reports about dangerous toys. In recent years we've seen news about batches of toys and jewelry, many of them imported, containing potentially harmful levels of lead and/or other toxic materials. Exposure usually happens when a young child puts the toy in his or her mouth, but exposure also comes through normal handling of these products. This problem also applies to older and antique toys that may have been made in the USA prior to current manufacturing standards designed to protect our children from potential sources of lead poisoning.

Even at low levels, lead can cause delays in the mental and physical development of young children that can have life-long impacts; demonstrating the necessity of continued efforts to prevent such exposure. Additional information about lead exposure and other potential sources of exposure is available at the PHMDC website at http://www.publichealthmdc.com/environmental-health/environmental-hazard....

Choking on small parts is another potential safety hazard especially with toys that are not age appropriate. Despite the product recalls carried out by the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), there are continuing reports of child fatalities related to choking on balloons, balls, toys or parts of toys. Swallowing small magnet components of certain toys can also produce choking hazards and potentially serious internal injuries to the child.

Another hazard is the small, flat; round button batteries often used to power watches and other hand held devices. A small child can swallow one of these in the blink of an eye. The ingested button battery is usually eliminated in the stool, but if the battery lodges in the esophagus with its negative side in contact with the tissue, it could result in alkaline burns and possible perforations in the esophagus.

Fortunately, there are resources available that can help you avoid many of these hazards. For more information on toy recalls, check out the CPSC website at
www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prerel.html. The Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group has posted a mobile-friendly website which lists known hazardous toys and provides tips in picking out safe toys at the following link: ToySafety.mobi.

Paying attention and staying informed will help assure a happier and healthier holiday season for you and your kids.


Public Health - Madison & Dane County


  • Jeff Golden(608) 243-0302