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Making a list and checking it twice -- for toxic toys

Worried about the safety of toys you might be buying this Christmas?

You should be.

A report released today by Healthy Legacy of Minneapolis says that more than 70 percent of children's toys that were tested for toxics including lead have been found unsafe by The Ecology Center of Ann Arbor, Mich.

The center tested 1,200 of the most popular toys for young children, said Lindsay Dahl, coordinator of Healthy Legacy, a nonprofit that advocates for consumer safety and is part of a national network headed by the center. Only 28 percent were found to be safe.

The center provides a list of the toys tested.

The report comes on the heels of revelations of toxic levels of lead found in popular toys made in China, leading to legislation in Congress to strengthen the Consumer Products Safety Commission. The commission's acting chair, Nancy Nord, came under fire at Senate hearings when she testified that despite the need for more testing of toys and other imported products the commission would not seek additional funding to expand the tests.

Dahl said the tests were conducted for lead, cadmium, arsenic, mercury and PVC, toxins that the center said placed babies and very young children at risk because they frequently put the toys in their mouths and sometimes chew on them.

Researchers chose to test these chemicals because of their association with reproductive problems, developmental and learning disabilities, hormone problems and cancer.

"There is virtually no government oversight on chemicals used to manufacture toys — even those made in the U.S.," Dahl said. "It is up to the consumer to ask our state and federal governments for increased regulation on chemicals in children's products."

Ted Schettler, a medical doctor and director of the Science and Environmental Health Network of Washington, D.C., said in a statement that "even low levels" of toxic chemicals are dangerous to children.

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