With all of the holidays happening during this time of year – not to mention birthdays, family gatherings, and various types of reunions, parties, and more – December has been designated National Safe Gifts and Toys Month.

First started by the non-profit organization Prevent Blindness, National Safe Gifts and Toys Month is dedicated to helping everyone become more aware of the dangers associated with toys and gifts of all types. Awareness and prevention are the first steps for everyone having a safer, healthier, happier holiday season.

Watch Out for Dangerous Toys & Gifts

In 2014, an estimated 251,800 people – most of them 15 years old or younger – were injured by unsafe toys, according to Consumer Product Safety Commission’s report on Toy-Related Deaths and Injuries. While this number is down slightly from recent years, this marks a dramatic increase in injuries over the last eighteen years (there were an estimated 130,000 toy-related injuries in 1996).

Furthermore, there may be many dangerous toys and gifts that contain hidden harm. Earlier this year an investigation showed that many brands of children's crayons and toys contained asbestos. Toys and items that have asbestos in them may expose people to dangers like mesothelioma cancer, which can develop decades later. Such diseases may not be able to be linked to specific toys or gifts, but as the EPA has stated, there is no safe level of asbestos.

Given the rise in toy-related injuries over the last couple decades, it’s important to watch out for unsafe toys and gifts. We’ve put together an infographic that describes four categories of toys, gifts, and holiday items that could contain dangerous substances like asbestos.

  • Decor – Make sure that any fake snow, vintage wreaths, statues, and keepsakes that are chipped or damaged do not contain asbestos.
  • Stocking Stuffers & Gifts – Stay clear of crayons and toys containing asbestos and beauty products with ingredients such as parabens, phthalates and formaldehyde.
  • In the Home – When bringing holiday decorations down from the attic and completing last minute DIY projects around the house, be sure that you are not damaging any asbestos containing materials such as insulation, ceiling tiles, and flooring.
  • Cookware & Food – Retire any crock pots or oven mitts containing asbestos or teflon-coated cookware. Purchase organic fresh fruits and veggies on the “Dirty Dozen” list, and avoid canned goods containing BPA.
MCA Holiday Toxins

Please share this graphic with friends and family to help them understand these potential hidden dangers in various toys, gifts, and decorations.

How to Avoid Unsafe Toys & Gifts

There are some additional resources to learn more about potentially dangerous presents and toys.