Nearly 10 million toys and other products have been recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission between January and April — a rate that, by year's end, could exceed 2007's record number of recalls by 70 percent.

That's according to an analysis issued this month by Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports.

The group is calling on Congress to modernize the Consumer Product Safety Commission "to help protect our children from hazardous products," policy counsel Ami Gadhia said. Bill provisions they want adopted include improved safety standards for children's products and an accessible incidents database to keep families informed.

Moms, including one whose baby died in an unsafe crib, accompanied consumer advocates in Washington last week to drive home the point.

"Consumers' illusion that our product safety system is working has been shattered by the many recalls of children's toys," Rachel Wintraub, director of product safety and senior counsel for Consumer Federation of America, said in a prepared statement.

The commission has initiated 121 product recalls through April, for a total of nearly 10 million products, Consumers Union reports. Almost 6 million were for children's products, including toys, clothes, bikes, games, pacifiers, rattles and cribs.

Nearly 90 percent of recalled products were made in China, Consumers Union reported. More than 1.3 million products were recalled for lead hazards.

Last summer, Mattel recalled 9 million products because of lead paint problems and small powerful magnets that can be harmful or fatal to children who swallow them.

Toys and children's jewelry must meet federal and industry safety standards, but products are not approved for safety before they're actually sold, according to the Web site kidshealth.org. Rather, the onus is on companies manufacturing and importing the products.

Still, toys these days are likely safer than ever, Kidshealth.org reports, noting that lead paint in older homes is the leading cause of lead poisoning in children, and the poisoning typically develops with repeat exposure over time.

So what can a parent do now? Kidshealth.orghas some tips:

• Concerned parents can have children tested for lead exposure. High levels in the blood can result in irritability, muscle and joint pain, head and stomach aches, loss of appetite, constipation, vomiting and seizures. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends such tests when children turn 1- and 2 years old.

• Wash children's hands often, especially before they eat.

• Be wary of old toys that may contain lead paint. Discard those that have been recalled.

• To stay on top of recalls, go to www.cpsc.gov and sign up for the Consumer Product Safety Commission's e-mail list. When you buy a new product, send in the registration card so that the company can contact you with recall information.


E-mail: jtcook@desnews.com