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From tiny Doc McStuffins figurines to a rubber duck and magnet sets, store shelves contain a range of products that could pose a danger to youngsters.

Maryland Public Interest Research Group this week released its 29th annual survey on toy safety. According to the group, the surveys have "led to an estimated 150 recalls and other regulatory actions over the years," and have "helped educate the public and policymakers on the need for continued action to protect the health and well-being of children."

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Among the problems the group found were toys with unsafe levels of lead, chromium and phthalates. Additionally, the group found toys with small parts that posed choking hazards. Small balls, balloons, magnets and batteries also were included as potentially dangerous.

"Despite recent progress in making toys safer, the findings of our 2014 investigation, as well as recent recalls and legal actions against importers, highlight the need for continued attention to shortcomings in existing standards and vigilance on the part of the shopping public," the group wrote in a press release. "To keep children safe from potentially hazardous toys, there is still more to do."

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The group publishes a list of safety tips at toysafetytips.org to help parents. It also warns that "toys on our list are presented as examples only. Other hazards may exist."

As the holiday shopping season picks up momentum and shopping days begin to dwindle, everyone typically becomes a little more rushed. Still, parents need to keep the safety of their children in mind when they are shopping. They also should follow the group's recommendation and subscribe to the government's recalled product announcement list. You can sign up at recalls.gov.

The group offers good advice for shoppers when it warns that just because a product is on the store shelf does not mean that it is safe. Doing some research before heading out to the stores can help parents make wise holiday shopping decisions for their children.

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