Thursday, July 31, 2008

Senate passes Consumer Protection Bill

Washington, D.C.—Today, consumer, public interest and scientific groups applaud the U.S. Senate for passing strong product safety reform legislation that would overhaul the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The bipartisan Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 will make consumer products safer by requiring that toys and infant products be tested before they are sold, and by banning lead and phthalates in toys. The bill also will create the first comprehensive publicly accessible consumer complaint database, give the CPSC the resources it needs to protect the public, increase civil penalties that CPSC can assess against violators of CPSC laws, and protect whistleblowers who report product safety defects.

The groups praised the Senate Conferees for their tireless work in reconciling the House and Senate versions of the CPSC reform bill: Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-HI), Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK), Chairman Mark Pryor (D-AR) , Senator John Sununu (R-NH) , Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX). The groups also thank Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) , and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) for their critical work on this bill.

In approving this sweeping reform measure, the Senate put children’s and consumers’ safety first by enacting the most significant improvements of the Consumer Product Safety Commission since the agency was established in the 1970’s. The bill was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives on July 30th by an overwhelming vote of 424-1. The President must sign this bill into law this week, before the August recess, the groups urged.

“My family and I are so honored that the portion of the bill that will protect children from unsafe infant and toddler products such as cribs is named for our son Danny,” stated Linda Ginzel, president of Kids In Danger. Ginzel and her husband Boaz Keysar founded the organization to protect children from unsafe children’s products after Danny’s death in 1998 in a recalled defective portable crib. The Danny Keysar Product Safety Notification Act, which is contained within the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008,would require mandatory standards and testing for specific infant and toddler products, ban the sale, lease or use in commercial settings of cribs that do not meet current safety standards, and would require manufacturers to include product registration cards with new products to facilitate notice of recalled products. “This, along with Kids In Danger, is Danny’s legacy,” added Ginzel.

“This bill represents the most significant improvements to product safety since Congress created the CPSC in the 1970’s. This reform is much needed, long overdue and necessary to ensure that CPSC can successfully ensure the safety of consumer products,” stated Rachel Weintraub, Director of Product Safety and Senior Counsel with Consumer Federation of America. “We applaud the Senate for their strong vote in support of consumer safety today.”

“This week, Congress responded to the wishes of parents and children all across America and passed legislation that will help restore our confidence in the safety of our toys and everyday products,” said Ami Gadhia, Policy Counsel for Consumers Union. “This landmark, bi-partisan legislation will overhaul an agency that – as reported by Consumer Reports magazine - was unable to do its job for far too long. The President should now sign on the dotted line and turn this bill into law,” Gadhia added.

"This bill introduces critical reforms like ensuring that toys are tested for safety before they go on the market, banning certain hazardous substances, and creating an online database for consumers to share information about dangerous products with each other," said David Arkush, Director of Public Citizen's Congress Watch division. "Consumers don't always come out on top in Congress, especially when big business fights hard, but this time consumers won big. Congress deserves applause."

“We applaud the Senate for acting to get toxic chemicals like lead and phthalates out of our children’s toys,” said U.S. PIRG Public Health Advocate Elizabeth Hitchcock. “This bill is a huge victory for America's littlest consumers in the face of ExxonMobil and the chemical industry’s efforts to gut it. The conferees and their staff deserve tremendous credit for bringing it over the finish line.”

“Congress passed today the strongest consumer product safety bill in 30 years,” said Dr. Diana Zuckerman, President of the National Research Center for Women & Families. “Our children and grandchildren are the big winners because their toys will be safer.”

"This bill will enhance the scientific integrity of the CPSC, protect whistleblowers and improve consumer safety by making the agency more transparent and accountable," said Dr. Francesca T. Grifo, director of the Scientific Integrity Program, Union of Concerned Scientists.

The House and Senate conferees on the product safety measure concluded action this weekend. The conference report on the legislation must now be approved by the President for his signature. Here are some examples of how this legislation changes and improves the safety of products sold in the United States:

Lead will be essentially eliminated from toys and children’s products.

• Consumers will have access to a publicly-accessible database to report and learn about hazards posed by unsafe products.

• Toys and other children’s products will be required to be tested for safety before they are sold.

• State Attorneys General will have the necessary authority to enforce product safety laws.

• CPSC has the authority to levy more significant civil penalties against violators of its safety regulations, which will help deter wrongdoing.

• Toxic phthalates will be been banned from children’s products.

• Whistleblowers will be granted important protections.

• CPSC will receive substantial increases in its resources – including its staffing levels, its laboratory and computer resources and its various authorities to conduct recalls and take other actions - going forward.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

House passes CPSC Reform

The House passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act 424 to 1 today. Now it goes to the Senate and then the President for his signature. We are one step closer to establishing a child safety system that will keep our children safe from tainted toys and collapsing cribs. KID urges the Senate and the President to act swiftly to get these life-saving measures in place. Here is the press release from the stalwart group of consumer organizations that have been working on the landmark legislation.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

CPSC overhaul bill finalized, contains crucial consumer protections

The Conference Committee working on reconciling the House and Senate versions of a CPSC reform act have finalized their work and the final version contains many key consumer protections. It still needs to pass the House and Senate this week before the August recess.

The final bill, among other important provisions calls for:

  • More funding and staff for CPSC
  • A full commission at five members
  • A process to set mandatory standards for 12 infant and toddler products including cribs, strollers, high chairs and more
  • Integrating the voluntary ASTM F963 toy standard into mandatory standards
  • Required third party testing and certification for children's products
  • A ban on phthalates , chemicals which may cause cancer and damage reproductive organs
  • Enforcement provisions for state attorneys general -- putting 50 more cops on the child safety beat
  • protection for whistleblowers
  • a ban on lead in children's products
And the list goes on. For more, check out this article from the Chicago Tribune. The Tribune also carried this article about Danny Keysar whose parents founded Kids In Danger and have worked over 10 years for these safeguards.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Dangers of All Terrain Vehicles: Recalls and Young Riders

As reported by CPSC, an estimated 850 people lose their lives in ATV-related incidents each year. One out of five deaths are to children younger than 16. In 2006, 39,300 children under 16 sustaineed serious injury. While many deaths and injuries occur when a child is driving or riding on adult ATVs, recent youth model ATV recalls highlight an urgency to consider the dangers associated with all ATVs. Rachel Weintraub, Director of Product Safety for Consumer Federation of America adds, “The constant drumbeat of increases in injuries and deaths caused by ATVs shows how significant this public health epidemic has become. This tragic problem is in need of an aggressive and immediate solution.”

There have been four youth model ATV recalls in June and July. KYMCO, SunL , Arctic Cat, and Kawasaki have recalled over 13,000 units due to hazards that could lead to a loss in the riders control and result in serious injury or death to riders. In the past five years, there have been nearly 70 ATV recalls all together, indicating a need for a revised and improved safety standard.

Current voluntary ATV safety measures include age recommendations that advise consumers against riding some ATVs if under the age of 16, warning labels that communicate safety information and training opportunities for ATV purchasers. These current voluntary safety measures are insufficient and fail to protect our children. In fact, many children continue to ride adult ATVs with engine displacements of over 90cc. The American Academy of Pediatrics more strictly recommends that children 16 years old and younger not ride any ATV. Similarly, the Consumer Federation of America responds by saying that the use of adult ATVs by children under 16 years old should be banned.

When selecting an ATV consider the age, experience, maturity, height, and weight of the rider. Also, consider the ATVs type and features such as, power, supervisory control, speed and brake controls. Remember that ATVs of all sizes can be dangerous and consider the safety risks before allowing children to ride on one.

Until a revision in legislation occurs, it is important for consumers to remain informed on ATV recalls and to practice safe riding. Here are some important riding tips to follow:

  • Never place a child under the age of 16 on an adult-sized ATV
  • Supervise younger riders on youth model ATVs
  • When riding an ATV, always wear a helmet and safety gear
  • ATVs should not be ridden on paved roads
  • Know the terrain
  • Most ATVs are designed for only one rider, for those designed for two riders -children under the age of 12 should never ride tandem
  • Three-Wheeled ATVs are banned and should never be used

For more information and data on ATVs, please visit, CPSC, and Consumer Federation of America.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Bill to Reduce the Circulation of Dangerous Toys

The circulation of dangerous toys must stop! This year already fifty-three toys have been recalled, totaling nearly 6.2 million units. Over a million toys have been pulled off store shelves for lead paint, and over 3 million for magnets. This increased rate of toy recalls shows that the Congressional action started last year is needed now more than ever.

Currently, a committee is working to hammer out the details included in the bills prepared by the House and the Senate. The objective is to incorporate points presented by both for a final version; however, there is concern that some key features will be ignored and the final version will be insufficient.

While the two versions are different, both the House and Senate introduce key points that should be incorporated for lasting change. The following outlines those provisions.
The version of H.R.4040 presented by the House includes several important provisions. First, their version states the need for an emergency provision that provides CPSC the authority to stop distribution based on hazards a product may pose. They also address conflicts of interest by banning industry-paid travel and requiring the inspection of propriety testing laboratories. If a product is deemed unsafe, their version holds manufacturers responsible for making the knowledge public via television and/or radio. Lastly, the House is considering a ban on a toxic chemical, phthalates.

Similarly, the Senate includes important features in their version of the product safety bill. They propose that voluntary toy safety testing become mandatory. Also, they add a
provision that establishes a database for the exchange of product and consumer related information and for reporting safety problems.

The increase of children’s product recalls as well as the hazards presented by some toys highlights the need for reform. The inclusion of all of these provisions is imperative in creating a strong bill that protects the lives of children. Children’s safety should be a priority! To relay this message and support a strong product safety bill, send a message to Congress through Moms Rising or Consumers Union.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Bed/Toy chest recall reminder of toy chest safety, hazards of multiuse products

Bayside Furnishings has recalled two models of youth beds with attached toy chests after the strangulation death of a toddler when the toy chest lid came down on him, trapping him by the neck. The product was sold primarily at Costco.

Toy chests are supposed to meet voluntary standards that would prevent such a tragedy as well as other hazards such as suffocation in an air-tight or locked chest. Only the company and CPSC know if the product was even tested to that standard. If you have a hinged toy chest, make sure there are ventilation holes, no lock and a method to prevent the lid from shutting quickly. Better yet, remove the lid.

Parents should also check all multi-use furniture and juvenile products to be sure it is safe in all uses. This would include car seats that hook into strollers; cribs that convert to beds, or playyards that include bassinets and changing tables.

Other Recalled Multi-Use Juvenile Products:
Kolcraft Recalls Twelve Different Play Yards
GRACO "Pack n' Play" portable play yards with raised changing table
Cosco "Arriva" and "Turnabout” Infant Car Seat/Carrier Recalled
Cosco Voyager Car Seat/Stroller Recalled
Century Multi-Use Strollers
Lascal "Buggy Board" stroller attachment

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