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By
STEVE ALBERTS

AUSTIN -- Many people are getting ready to go shopping this Friday, one of the busiest shopping days of the year. Before you head out, a consumer interest group has a warning about what toys to stay away from.

Santa's not the only one checking lists twice. Mom and dad are also taking requests.

 Lori Mullican was at Terra Toys in North Austin on Tuesday.

“I'm shopping for Christmas for my kids,” said Mullican. “They have retro toys that are cool. They always have a great selection, and I always find something for the kids.”
 
She has her own ideas of what's naughty and nice. She worries that dangerous or toxic toys are still selling in local stores.

“I always stay away from toys with small parts, or real loose, or that are made in China,” she said. “Yeah, it is always a concern.”

It's the same concern the Texas Public Interest Research Group, or TexPIRG, has about many toys.   Tuesday at a private school in Austin, the consumer group released its 26th annual report on toy safety called Trouble in Toyland.

“While most toys are safe, our researchers still found toys on the shelves that pose choking hazards and other toys that contain hazardous levels of toxic chemicals including lead,” said Melissa Cubria of TexPIRG.

The group wants parents to know that there are toys on shelves now that can cause harm, even death. It showed a book as one example of a children's product that looks harmless but contains high levels of lead.

“It is alarming,” said Cubria.

The survey also found toys that pose either choking or noise hazards. A big threat to children under three is choking. The group wants parents to pay special attention to warning labels and make sure the toy is age appropriate.

“Toy safety should be important,” said Tareka Wheeler, program coordinator for Safe Kids Austin. “It's just as important as buckling our young children up in our car seats.”

Austin Congressman Lloyd Doggett is an advocate for children's safety.

“As you're making your purchase on Black Friday, be sure this next weekend you're not making a purchase that lands your child or family member in the ER,” he said.

So to make this holiday season a happy and safe one, there is one more list you'll want to check twice.The group also provides an interactive website with tips for safe toy shopping that consumers can access on their smart phones at www.toysafety.mobi.

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