The Trouble with Toys

In a quasi-related follow-up to the previous article, this season of buying toys, can become quite stressful while trying to navigate the perils of toy safety, as seen in the video below.

Many toys have health risks including, chocking, strangulation, suffocation, being too loud, having sharp edges, tearing through intestines because of magnets, or may have toxic chemicals in them. Fortunately, the World Against Toys Causing Harm (W.A.T.C.H.), has since 1973 released the annual 10 Worst Toys list to help keep you away from any troubles this holiday season. The US Public Interest Research Group also produces a consumer report on the Trouble in Toyland. Both reports note that toys made of plastics with stabilizing or softening agents will often contain phthalates, toys with electronic components will likely have some flame retardants in them, and others will have metals, such as lead, mercury, cadmium, or chromium (+6). While the exposure (which is key for toxicity) to these compounds is very small, and the effects of some of the chemicals are not that harmful, sometimes it doesn’t hurt to place it safe, especially when it comes to thinking of the children.

But how will the girl be able to color the green frog with these Princess crayons?

While there may be some physical risks from the actual toys, there is also the chance that the toy you get will have have some unintended, psychological effects. Consider toys that are gendered, which really have no business being gendered, like crayons, or Lego, or science kits! Check out this Swedish Toy Catalog which has girls and boys playing together, regardless of the toy. Recently, George Stroumboulopoulos wondered why aren’t there more girls in engineering? And suggested that they need better toys, like the GoldieBlox: The Engineering Toy for Girls.

So take some careful consideration when planning your gifts this season, because they are no doubt loaded with risks be they physical or psychological, but these gender neutral, STEM minded crayons look like an awesome and safe gift.

With these labels you can color that frog a nice Barium Nitrate Ba(NO3)2 Flame, instead of having no green at all.


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