Dollar Tree is a great place to find bargains on kids’ toys. There are stocking stuffers for Christmas; party favors for birthday parties; fillers for Easter Baskets.
Thing is: some of those toys may be dangerous and even toxic for children.
Dangerous Toys on Store Shelves
Of course, this is a much bigger problem than bargains at the dollar store. The sad truth is that there are a shocking amount of toys marketed to kids of all ages that are dangerous and can hurt or even kill them. They are sold all over the country, at all price points, at trusted stores like Target and Walmart and made by trusted companies like Hallmark and Mattel.
In fact, each year since 1973, the safety group World Against Toys Causing Harm (WATCH) publishes its annual Top 10 Most Dangerous Toys List.
Read the list of the Most Dangerous Toys of 2017 here.
Dangers and Toy Recalls
Dangers can come from flaws in the design of the product, or in the failure of a particular product to function properly. Toys can also be dangerous because of what is used to make them. Kids – even older kids – may ingest or inhale materials or chemicals from the toy that can hurt them. They can be cut or burned or caused to fall.
It's usually after kids get hurt and the injuries get reported that there may be recalls.
Report Testing Dollar Store Products for Toxins Finds 81% Positive for Hazardous Chemical
Dollar Tree is not an exception. Two years ago, the Campaign for Healthier Solutions tested 164 products from Dollar Tree, Family Dollar, 99 Cents Only, and Dollar General.
They tested for a variety of toxins (arsenic, lead, mercury, tin, antimony, bromine, and chlorine) as well as phthalate and no-phthalate plasticizers. Result?
- 81% of Dollar Tree products had at least one hazardous chemical above levels of concern;
- 49% of Dollar Tree products contained two or more toxic chemicals above safety levels;
- 38% of Dollar Tree products contained dangerous vinyl plastic; and of these vinyl products, a high percentage contained toxic phthalates above the CPSC limits for children’s products.
For more details, see the summary in an article entitled “Dollar Store Report, 2015,”published by the non-profit Ecology Center of Ann Arbor, Michigan.
From the report on Dollar Tree findings, there were things like beaded necklaces and artificial nails, and toys that include:
· Bath toys
· Favor surprises
· Inflatable dinosaurs
· Jumpin’ frogs
· Mermaid Sirene (Doll, Hairbrush, Tail, Torso)
· Princess Rings
· Princess Wand
· Table Tennis
· The Amazing Spiderman 2 Coin Bank
· Ultimate Spiderman Dog Tags
What about Dollar Tree Toys Today? We Don’t Know
Of course, this report was published in 2015, so no worries now right? Wrong.
In June 2017, Kimberly Pierceall’s article in The Virginian-Pilot was published, entitled “Dollar Tree says it’s protecting consumers from toxic chemicals. Group wants proof.”
Read the story and you’ll learn the details about how the company had no proof to offer shareholders at the 2017 shareholder’s meeting.
Seems that Dollar Tree wrote some letters…. No feedback on any changes being made in the actual products being sold in the stores.
And, at the Dollar Tree site, there are only three recalls listed: one in 2014 and two in 2015. None are toys.
Of Particular Concern: Lead Levels in Toys
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warn there are children in the United States today that have scary levels of lead coursing through their blood. Children may not exhibit any health symptoms even if they have been exposed to lead and had in it their systems.
The CDC warns that “no safe blood level in children has been identified.”
Things like fidget spinners can have toxic lead levels. You can’t just look at a toy and know that it’s safe from lead exposure. And lead poisoning is scary (see the CDC Infographic here).
Sure, toddlers may try and stuff a toy or a part of a toy into their mouths. But think about it: imagine a tween girl who has her plastic necklace looped in her mouth while watching TV, or a teenager who holds a plastic dog tag in their mouth while they’re tying their shoes?
It’s not just the tiny ones that are at risk here.
Be Careful Before You Buy Toys at Dollar Tree
Dollar Tree is a great place to shop. I’m not suggesting you stop shopping there! I’m considering buying some toys there for the Salvation Army Angel Tree program myself this afternoon.
But remember this:
1 You cannot trust the toys just because they’ve made it to the store shelves. Dangerous toys are sold every day in this country.
2. You cannot trust the toys even if they have a name brand on the label. The big toy makers are as guilty of putting dangerous stuff out there into the marketplace as any shop in China; recognizing the manufacturer isn’t a guarantee of safety.
So, I am educating myself on what dangerous toys may look like from sites like WATCH’s ToySafety.org and I’m checking the recall sites, too. If there is metal, maybe I won’t buy that toy because of the CDC’s lead warnings.
And I’m suggesting, Dear Reader, that maybe you might want to do this, too.