Children's Products

Popular Toys Contain Toxics and Pose Other Hazards

U.S. PIRG’S Trouble in Toyland Finds Dangerous Toys on Shelves During Holiday Shopping Season

Washington, D.C. – This holiday season, watch out for dangerous and toxic toys. U.S. PIRG Education Fund’s 33rd annual Trouble in Toyland report found toxic amounts of boron in slime products and a failure by Amazon to appropriately label choking hazards. Boron can cause nausea, vomiting and other health issues.

“No one should have to worry about whether or not the toy they’re buying is toxic or dangerous. But in 2018, we’re still finding hazards in some of the most popular toys. Toy manufacturers must do better to ensure their products are safe before they end up in children’s hands and mouths,” said Mike Litt, Consumer Campaign Director for U.S. PIRG Education Fund.

For more than 30 years, Trouble in Toyland has issued toy safety guidelines and has provided examples of toys currently on store shelves that pose potential safety hazards to small children. Key findings from this year’s report include:

  • Hazardous Slime: A number of popular ‘slimes’ had toxic levels of boron, likely in the form of borax, up to fifteen times the European Union’s limit. According to the EPA, ingesting boron can cause nausea, vomiting, long-term reproductive health issues and can even be fatal.
  • Missing Online Choking Warnings: In a survey of five search pages for balloons sold on Amazon, U.S. PIRG found no choking hazard labels on 87 percent of the latex balloons marketed to parents of children under 2, an apparent violation of the law. Among children’s products, balloons are the leading cause of suffocation death.
  • Privacy-Invasive Smart Toys: The report also highlights two smart toys, a robot toy and a tablet, with privacy concerns discovered through an investigation by the Mozilla Foundation. Every year, the potential for smart toys to expose private data becomes a more significant concern.

“The CPSC must rigorously conduct recalls to get potentially hazardous products off of store shelves, online sites, people’s homes and our children’s toy boxes,” said Rachel Weintraub, Legislative Director and General Counsel for Consumer Federation of America. “The CPSC should be at the forefront of child safety and should take early, effective and decisive action to protect children from hazards posed by toys.”

While there are currently no limits on boron in children’s toys in the U.S., the advocacy organization called for placing warning labels on products and a full public hearing to determine safe levels of boron.

In addition to identifying dangerous toys already on store shelves, U.S. PIRG provides a guide on how parents, grandparents and other caretakers can ensure toys are safe and stay updated on recalled toys at


Mike Litt, U.S. PIRG, Consumer Campaign Director, (w) 202-461-3830 (c) 702-427-1608

Rachel Weintraub, Consumer Federation of America, Legislative Director, (w) 202-939-1012 (c) 202-904-4953