ANDREA SEABROOK, host:
In the future, we might all look back on this holiday season as the Christmas of toy recalls. This weekend, a new service was released by a couple of nonprofit advocacy groups that want to make shopping a little easier on parents.
It's a text message cell phone search of a database of results from the chemical tests on more than 1,200 toys. The groups, Moms Rising and the Ecology Center, want to be clear they aren't necessarily declaring these toys dangerous, but there are some items with higher chemical content than others.
Well, I sent out this morning to test this new search of the so-called healthy toys database from the toy aisles of the local Wal-Mart.
(Soundbite of shopping cart)
SEABROOK: Washington, D.C., mom Stephanie Moon(ph) has two little boys running around and a bunch of toys in her cart, she's trying to hide them with her coat. Moon says her kids are into cars right now, and she's careful not to buy the ones that say they have small parts. But when it comes to lead, it's impossible to know.
Ms. STEPHANIE MOON: I like this when they put it on the box or anything so I don't know.
SEABROOK: Moon says she's definitely interested in the text-message safety search.
Ms. MOON: So you're just texting the words or any toys?
SEABROOK: Mm-hmm. Like Matchbox. Here, I'll try it. Let's see.
So you have to do a text message and then it's to the number 41411, and I'll just put in healthy toys space, and then I'm going to put in Matchbox. Then, I'll hit send. And it comes right back. I mean, it's really fast. And it says healthy toys chemical levels detected low, toy truck by Matchbox. So I guess there are some toy trucks…
Ms. MOON: Wow.
SEABROOK: …so much specific, is it?
Ms. MOON: Steal.
Ms. MOON: Yeah.
SEABROOK: From Matchbox cars to the baby doll aisle. Everything here is pink. Mom Ayesha Curney(ph) is eyeing a little stroller for her daughter's dolls. She says it's hard to know what to do these days.
Ms. AYESHA CARNEY: I stopped buying like Dora, things that were made in China and overseas. I see the big stickers that's made in U.S., but I don't know if I'll believe it.
SEABROOK: Further down the aisle, Eunice Chase(ph) is checking out the Baby Alive Doll. It eats and poops just like a real baby. But how did it do in the chemical test?
(Soundbite of beep)
SEABROOK: There it is. Okay. And so I open the text. It texts me back, says, sorry, no matches. Well, that's not very much a help, is it?
Ms. EUNICE CHASE: No. I think this one is fine.
SEABROOK: Because this one is fuzzy.
Ms. CHASE: Yes.
SEABROOK: You take some fuzzy dolls here.
Ms. CHASE: No. It's not fuzzy.
SEABROOK: Chase goes with the fuzzy puppets. No paint, she figures. No lead. Like most people I tried this with today, she thought the text-message search was a great idea, though it's got its problem, and at least it's trying to solve the Christmas crisis of 2007 - how to know what toys are safe.