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PUBLISHED: 4:07 PM on Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Purchasing safe toys
The toy industry spends an estimated $300 million a year on safety testing and inspection of toys, and approximately three billion toys are sold in America each year. So far this year, more than 20 million toys have been pulled off shelves as a result of more than 60 recalls. This is more than twice the number of alerts the US Consumer Products Safety Commission issued last year.

Perhaps even more concerning is that, according to the CPSC, less than 20 percent of recalled toys make it back to the manufacturer for proper disposal or repair.

"The hot topic this holiday season for many parents and relatives of children is a trust issue - 'which brands and which toys can I trust?'", said Robert Andrew, President and CEO of the local BBB serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington.

Find out which toys have been recalled by visiting the CPSC Web site at www.cpsc.gov. Also, the Toy Industry Association provides information on toy safety as well as photos of recalled toys in an easy-to-use index on their Web site at http://www.toyinfo.org/index.html.

If you have purchased a recalled toy, the CPSC will negotiate a resolution with the toy manufacturer, which usually results in a refund or an exchange for a different toy. If you purchased the toy from a retailer, try returning the item to them first to potentially save yourself the time it will take to deal directly with the toy manufacturer. Major toy outlets often have their own return policy for recalled toys.

Make sure the toy is age-appropriate. Toy safety isn't only about avoiding recalled products; you also need to make sure you're buying appropriate toys for the age of the child. Read and follow the age recommendation listed on the package or toy.

Consumers should be aware that the CPSC warns that at-home lead-level testing kits are inaccurate, so if you're worried about lead poisoning, first talk to your pediatrician about conducting a blood test. As a second step, if you think your child has been hurt by a potentially faulty or toxic toy, call the CPSC hotline at (800) 638-2772.


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