GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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November 21, 2012

'Dora' products top toy safety concerns

SALEM — It’s colorful and allows kids to strum a guitar along with 20 songs from the popular “Dora the Explorer” kids television show.

With the show’s craze, many parents might think the Dora Tunes Guitar would be a perfect gift to buy their kid. But a Massachusetts consumer advocacy group has put a warning out to parents and others thinking about buying the toy this holiday season.

The problem with the seemly innocent toy guitar is the volume — about 93 decibels — with no option to turn it down.

The guitar could threaten a child’s hearing, said Victor Gabrielii Augustsson, a consumer advocate with Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group, a Boston-based consumer group. Research shows that prolonged exposure to noise above 85 decibels will cause gradual hearing loss in any age range, according to the group.

The national branch of the organization has released its 27th annual “Trouble in Toyland” report and, with Black Friday and the holiday shopping season looming across the North Shore and Cape Ann, presented the findings during a press conference held Tuesday at the Salem YMCA.

Over the years, the report has exposed hazard in toys, including products that are toxic, sharp, magnetic or excessively loud or pose a choking hazard.

While the federal Consumer Product Commission was revamped in 2008 in response to an unprecedented number of toy recalls, many dangerous toys still end up on the store shelves, according to the report.

“Parents need to be aware of these dangers,” Gabrielii Augustsson said. “We want to make sure kids don’t get any dangerous toys in their hands.”

The report provides safety guidelines for consumers when purchasing toys for small children and provides examples of toys currently on store shelves that may pose potential safety hazards. The list includes a dangerous magnet toy, a bowling game that is a choking hazard and a cellphone rattle that is harmful to little ears.

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