Study Finds Recalled Toys Still Available on eBay

Toys and other children's products recalled by manufacturers because of safety concerns are often resold through online auction sites, putting children at risk, according to a new study.

EBay Inc.'s Web site prohibits the sale of recalled products, but enforcement efforts don't seem to be succeeding, said Keri Brown Kirschman, an assistant psychology professor at the University of Dayton and lead author of the study.

Kirschman, who specializes in child psychology and pediatric injury prevention, said she searched for 141 recalled items on eBay for 30 consecutive days and found them offered in at least 144 online auctions. The products included play yards, baby walkers, bassinets and safety devices.

About 70 percent of recalled items tracked were sold, she said.

Even sophisticated eBay users appear to be unaware or uncooperative of policies intended to keep recalled products from being exchanged, the study said.

The study was conducted in 2004 at the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Columbus Children's Hospital, and reported this month in the peer-reviewed journal Injury Prevention.

Last week, Mattel announced a worldwide recall of almost 19 million items, including dolls, cars and action figures. Some of the items were contaminated with lead paint. Others had small magnets that children might swallow.

"I hope this study raises awareness on all levels about the problem and about the need to do more to prevent recalled items from getting to children even long after a recall," Kirschman said Monday.

Parents should check government recall sites before purchasing items on auction Web sites, and sellers should be required to electronically sign a statement indicating the items for sale have not been recalled, the study recommends.

Nichola Sharpe, a spokeswoman for eBay, said the online auction site works constantly to enforce its policy and does not permit the listing of items identified by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission as hazardous to consumers and subject to a recall.

"We have been working very closely with the CPSC for a number of years now to educate buyers and sellers about recalls and to enforce this policy," Sharpe said.

Julie Vallese, a spokeswoman for the Consumer Product Safety Commission, said the agency itself has found recalled products listed at online auction sites. The agency has worked very closely with eBay and is confident that it is finding products and bringing them down off the Web site as much as possible, she said.

The Dayton Daily News published results of the study in its weekend editions.