Yo-yo water ball issue could ignite petition

CPSC, not normally known for shrinking back from recalling a potentially dangerous toy, surprised some last month when it issued a mild statement alerting consumers to the possible hazards of the yo-yo water ball toy.

Some 11-15 million of the toys were distributed, selling for between $1 and $5, according to CPSC. They are liquid filled balls attached to a stretchy cord with a finger loop at the end. The cord can stretch to more than three feet. There have been 186 reports of incidents in which the cord wrapped around a child’s neck. In every incident, a parent or caregiver was able to remove the cord.

But CPSC’s staff assessment said the risk did not meet the criteria for a product recall.

Calling it a “low risk of strangulation,” CPSC said it realizes that the reported incidents are “uncomfortable and anxiety-provoking” but that the product does not meet the congressionally mandated standard for recall. (1)

CPSC’s reaction did not please Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D.-Ill.), who immediately wrote to the agency demanding a recall.

On Oct. 7, Schakowsky wrote another letter to Chairman Stratton, saying again that the yo-yo water ball toy is a risk to the public and should be recalled. Schakowsky cited examples of recalls done by CPSC where there were few or no reported incidents or injuries. (2)

Schakowsky has a constituent, Lisa Lipin of Skokie, whose 5-year-old son got a yo-yo ball wrapped around his neck.

According to news reports, product safety officials in Australia have also banned yo-yo water balls. The states of Massachusetts and New York issued warnings about the ball in June. (3) Canada has recalled the toys, while the United Kingdom and France have banned them. (4)

Congresswoman Schakowsky commented on the product in an ABC’s “Good Morning America” segment on Sept. 24.

Lipin, mother of the 5-year-old who became entangled with the yo-yo water ball toy, has indicated that she plans to pursue the process leading to a petition to CPSC to recall the toy.

(1) News from CPSC, Office of Information and Public Affairs, “CPSC Announces Results of Investigation of Yo-Yo Water Ball Toys,” Sept. 24, 2003.

(2) Press Release, Representative Jan Schakowsky, Oct. 7, 2003, “Schakowsky and Concerned Parents Continue Fight to Ban Sale of Yo-Yo Balls.”

(3) Holt, Douglas, “No Recall for Yo-Yo Ball Toy: Injuries Reported, but U.S. Agency Downplays Danger,” Chicago Tribune, Sept. 24, 2003

(4) “Local Resident Not Satisfied with a Yo Yo Ball Ruling.” Skokie Review, Oct. 2, 2003.

COPYRIGHT 2003 Consumer Alert

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group

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