The New York Public Interest Research Group has released its 32nd annual report, known as "Trouble in Toyland," which highlights hazards among many toys on the market.
The toys selected for the report were tested by a Consumer Product Safety Council-accredited lab, the group explained.
Several toys were laid out for display at NYPIRG's annual report delivery. They included balloons, games with small parts and a brass-colored version of the popular fidget spinners. The specific spinner, Fidget Wild, was singled out for what NYPIRG officials said was an excessive amount of lead in the product.
"The legal limit for lead in children's toys is 100 parts per million. This fidget spinner here has 33,000 parts per million," said NYPIRG's Western New York Regional Coordinator, Wesley Thomas.
Lead is one of the five hazards pointed out by those delivering the report. Small parts, magnetic parts and balloons, they stated, all pose choking threats. The best way to test a toy as one suitable for use by small children, they demostrated, was with a tube test.
Buffalo State College student and NYPIRG board member Olivia Harbol explained a toilet roll tube is suitable for the test.
"If a toy fits into the roll, it's too small for a child under three," she said. "Children can easily inhale balloons while trying to inflate them and they can get stuck in children's throats."
Magnets, she added, can connect inside a child's body and also block air passages.
The final risk noted in NYPIRG's report is cybersecurity. Many toys involve connection to the internet and NYPIRG officials warned this puts kids at risk to exposure via eavesdropping software.
Labeling is also a concern raised by NYPIRG members. Thomas held up a package of punch balloons and pointed out several different warning labels, one claiming that children ages 8 and younger could choke or suffocate, while another suggests the toy is intended for children ages 3 and up.
The balloons were made in China but Thomas says even some domestic toy makers are not necessarily adhering to all safety standards.
"It doesn't matter if they're being made in Beijing or Buffalo, they need to be held to the U. S. standards and they haven't been," Thomas said. "Where it's being made is, honestly, irrelevant. They should be held to U.S. standards because this is where they're being sold, in U.S. stores."