Empire Editorial: Whatever you do, don't gnaw on these toys

You won’t want to use the Captain America Soft Shield, meant for ages two and up, as a chew toy. It was found to contain 29 times the standard level for lead (2,900 ppm). And we recommend steering clear of the Ninja Turtles Pencil Case, which was found to contain 150,000 ppm of one of six phthalates banned from toys, as well as excessive levels (600 ppm) of the toxic metal cadmium. Not that most will be caught licking pencil cases, but with young kids you just never know.

These findings come from a recent annual report titled “The 2013 Trouble in Toyland,” issued by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. In the report, U.S. PIRG 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.

This year’s report identified hazards in toys that range from strangulation or choking pitfalls to those with hidden toxicities. There were even toys found to be too loud for young, developing ears.

The report highlighted the continued presence of lead in toys, as well as other toxic chemicals such as phthalates, antimony and cadmium. It’s widely known that lead is harmful to the human body; exposure can affect almost every organ and system, especially the central nervous system.

This year’s report also cautioned against some toys that contained choking hazards, were too noisy — some toys have been proven to cause hearing loss in young children — or have powerful and potentially harmful magnets that, when ingested, can lead to an emergency room visit.

Perhaps you’ve seen the very cool, but not for kids, Buckyball magnets. According to the U.S. PIRG report, in 2009 and 2011 there were 1,700 emergency room cases nationwide involving the ingestion of high-powered magnets. Furthermore, more than 70 percent of these cases involved children between the ages of 4 and 12. The report outlined a few other similar products marketed for kids deemed unsafe.

The report isn’t terribly detailed, though it does point to some specific toys that should be avoided.

So what’s the take-home message in all this? Consumers need to continue to be vigilant. If you’re shopping for a youngster, use common sense and look for toys that are built with natural fibers and materials, and which are advertised as nontoxic.

Even still, it’s OK to be sceptical if a toy comes from a foreign country. And remember this: The Consumer Product Safety Commission does not test all toys, and not all toys on store shelves meet CPSC standards.

Find the full report here: http://www.uspirgedfund.org/reports/usf/trouble-toyland-2013.

Find the Alaska PIRG report here: http://www.akpirg.org/report_28th_annual_trouble_in_toyland_study.


Wed, 02/22/2017 - 11:53

Stand with Alaskans and stand with Planned Parenthood

I appreciate Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s recent decision to support repealing the Trump administration’s global gag rule. The global gag rule bans federal money for overseas family planning programs if the programs also provide abortion, or provide information about abortion. The global gag rule puts thousands of lives at risk, and Murkowski has rightly recognized that. I praise Murkowski, and want her to know that Alaskans stand with her in supporting access to family planning services. This means that we support Planned Parenthood, and we hope she will stand with us in the coming weeks by refusing to vote for any changes to the Affordable Care Act that include defunding Planned Parenthood. Read more

Wed, 02/22/2017 - 08:42

Alaska editorial: The opioid issue

This editorial first appeared in the Ketchikan Daily News:

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Wed, 02/22/2017 - 08:41

Expanding apprenticeship in rural Alaska

We are proud to announce a new statewide training initiative: the Alaska Maritime Apprenticeship Program. Over the past year, the Calista Corporation, in partnership with the state and federal government, has built a Registered Apprenticeship program to train Alaskans for careers on deck, in the engine room, and in the galley, earning both a salary and an industry-recognized credential. Working with a group of companies including Brice Marine and Yukon River Towing, we are expanding career and training opportunities for Alaskans in the maritime industry.

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Wed, 02/22/2017 - 08:40

Transboundary mining: Defending Alaska’s interests

It is a big week for Alaska’s capital city. Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan are in town to address the Alaska State Legislature, the United Fishermen of Alaska (UFA) Board of Directors, and all Alaskans. There are a number of issues on which the state of Alaska, including our elected decision makers at both the state and federal levels, can show unity. One of those critical issues is asking the U.S. federal government to defend Alaskan interests in the Alaska-British Columbia (B.C.) transboundary mining issue.

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