Health & Spirit

Don't give me no hand-me-down toys

By Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. on

In 1970, The Guess Who sang, "Don't give me no hand-me-down shoes." Correct grammar aside, we'd like to add a lyric: "Don't give me no hand-me-down toys."

You can find old toys in Grandma's attic, on the internet or at a garage sale. Maybe it's a Lionel train set, an old dollhouse or building blocks. Look, but don't buy! Regulations on toy safety, in both the U.S. and the U.K., came into effect in 1985 to 1986. Before then, there were no across-the-board safety standards for toys.

What that means, according to a new study in Environmental Science and Technology, is that many manufacturers used toxic materials. U.K. researchers, using X-ray fluorescence spectrometry, analyzed 200 toys, including cars, trains, construction products, figures and puzzles, building blocks, figurines and jewelry made before safety directives were implemented. What they found was astounding: high concentrations of antimony, barium, bromine, cadmium, chromium, lead and selenium. How'd we survive this long?

"In eight cases, Cd (cadmium) or Pb (lead) exceeded their migration limits as stipulated by the current EU Toy Safety Directive ... with Cd released from yellow and red Lego bricks exceeding its limit by an order of magnitude." Ugh! These toys probably resulted in a bunch of unaccounted-for cancers.

As the researchers point out, "... there is no retroactive regulation on second-hand toys." So hand-me-downs that are family treasures or inexpensive online-finds may come with quite a cost. The best bet? When buying for children, steer clear of toys made before the mid-1980s.

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Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into "The Dr. Oz Show" or visit

(c) 2018 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.

Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

(c) 2018 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.


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