As parents head out to buy toys for their children this holiday season, the group NJ-PIRG, New Jersey Public Interest Research Group, has released its annual "Trouble in Toyland" report, which highlights dangerous toy hazards that are still on store shelves.

(Pavel Losevsky, ThinkStock)

"Toys may appear safe but they may not be," according to Gail Schwartzberg, an NJPIRG campus organizer. "Some of the most dangerous hazards posed by toys are invisible. Some of them contain toxic substances like the metals lead and chromium and chemicals called phthalates. We need to protect our youngest consumers from unsafe toys."

Schwartzberg said over the last 29 years, the Trouble in Toyland report has led to at least 150 recalls and other actions to get dangerous toys off store shelves.

"You want to make sure the toys you're buying don't contain lead," Schwartzberg said. "It's a powerful neuro-toxin that causes chronic problems, it lowers IQ and causes behavioral problems. Lead is banned from all toys, but testing has found some of them contain this dangerous substance."

She said one toy found to contain dangerous levels of lead by NJPIRG is the Disney Jake and the Neverland Pirates tambourine.

At the same time, Schwartzberg said consumers should also avoid toys with small parts that present choking hazards, as well as toys with magnets.

"Magnetic toys are made with extremely strong magnets and can cause severe internal damage if more than one is swallowed, so definitely look out for that," she said. "You also want to avoid toys that produce very loud sounds. Research has shown that 1 in 7 children between the ages of 6 and 17 have signs of hearing loss."

She said for more information "people can go to toysafetytips.org to see our list of unsafe toys and tips on how to shop safely this holiday season - they should always examine toys carefully."