NEW JERSEY — Each year, thousands of kids end up in the emergency room thanks to a toy that is toxic or dangerous.
To combat those hazardous gifts, advocates and officials are warning parents.
"Dangerous and toxic toys still remain on store shelves," said Dylan Robb of a New Jersey consumer watchdog group.
Marco, 3, was home playing with a toy — when it got lodged in his throat. His mom, Kristin, rushed him to Hackensack University Medical Center.
"For a few seconds, I thought he was choking," said Kristin V., who did not wish to give her last name. "The X-ray confirmed that he swallowed not one, but two magnets, and they were stuck together in his throat clamping skin together."
These tiny little magnets — which can come in kids' sculpture sets and construction kits — look like candy. But once in the body, they can latch on and magnetize.
Doctors performed emergency surgery on Marco.
"He’s lucky they didn’t end up obstructing his airway and causing breathing difficulty," said Dr. Mark Siegel, Section Chief of the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at the Joseph M. Sanzari Children's Hospital at HackensackUMC.
High powered magnets, small bath toys, wooden toys, an instrument set and balloons were among those flagged as dangerous by the Public Interest Research Group in their 34th annual ‘Trouble in Toyland’ report.
Toy warnings include: how to spot and prevent choking hazards using the toilet paper test; toxic chemicals found in kids slime or paint products; cybersecurity hazards in smart toys that store and can share your private data; recalled toys still available for sale online; and lead hazards in imported toys.
"A popular xylophone for toddlers sold on Amazon contained nearly four times the amount of lead allowed under federal law," said Sen. Bob Menendez, a democrat from New Jersey.
Menendez is demanding answers from Amazon about their ‘Amazon Choice’ badge.
"Most consumers view this badge as a stamp of approval from Amazon. Yet investigations suggest this badge is nothing more than an unaccountable algorithm, not a verifiable testament to a product's safety or quality."
In response, an Amazon spokesman stated: "Safety is a top priority at Amazon. We require all products offered in our store to comply with applicable laws and regulations and have developed industry-leading tools to prevent unsafe or non-compliant products from being listed in our stores."