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Toy recalls down, but hazards remain

WASHINGTON (AP) — Toy recalls for excessive lead and other hazards are down this year, but consumer advocates warn that potential dangers to children remain on store shelves.

Several toys with high lead levels or toys that could cause young children to choke were found at major retailers and discount stores in the last few months, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group said Tuesday. The consumer safety group analyzed 50 toys for its annual report. Violations were found in just under a dozen, including a Captain America toy shield and play jewelry.

PIRG said the Captain America Soft Shield purchased at Toys R Us had 29 times the legal limit of lead. A package of toy jewelry rings from Dollar General tested positive for lead twice the legal limit, said the report.

Small parts that could detach from a toy and choke a child were found in 6 toys that the group said did not carry the necessary warning labels for children.

Among the other concerns outlined in the report were toys that were too loud and exceed federal safety limits on decibels. According to PIRG, three toys violated the limits: two Leap Frog phones for toddlers — the Chat & Count phone and the Lil' Phone Pal — and the Fisher Price Laugh & Learn remote.

Government figures show 31 toy recalls in fiscal year 2013, which ended Sept. 30 — none involving lead. The number of toy recalls has been declining, down from 38 recalls in 2012; 50 in 2009 and 172 in 2008.

A 2008 law that set stronger standards for children's products, including strict limits on lead, has helped make many products safer for youngsters. The law was passed after a wave of recalls of lead-tainted toys.

The "Trouble in Toyland" report can be found at http://www.uspirgedfund.org/reports/usf/trouble-toyland-2013.

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