Thursday, December 31, 2009

Danny would be 13 today

Today is the birthday of my nephew, Leo. His mother, my cousin Amy, died in 2007 after a short but intense fight with cancer. I see Leo turning 13 and know how proud his mom would be of what an amazing young man he has become -- and how profoundly sad it is that she isn't here to see it.

But Leo also reminds me of another boy who would be turning thirteen today. Leo shares the birthday of Danny Keysar, whose parents founded KID in 1998 after he was killed in a dangerous portable crib. As I watch Leo grow, I see the shadow of what Danny might be doing and what an amazing young man he would become -- and again, how profoundly sad that he isn't here.

Danny didn't die of a disease with no cure, but of a flawed children's product safety system that allowed a dangerous crib to be sold and then remain in use even after other babies had died.

All of KID's work is to honor the memory of Danny and other victims of unsafe children's products. He is always in our thoughts as are Ellie and Andy, Ethan and Riley, Liam and Kennedy, and too many others. We are proud of the legacy we are building in their memory that will keep other babies safe.

We have seen tremendous change over the past several years in the area of children's product safety. With new laws, some carrying Danny's name, and a new active administration at CPSC, children are already safer today -- but more must be done. Join with us to honor not only Danny, but the children in your life with a safer tomorrow.

  • Make a donation to KID in a child's name. We promise to put it to good use fulfilling our mission to promote safer products, advocate for children and educate the public about dangerous children's products.
  • Check the children's products in your home for recalls and urge others -- grandparents, caregivers, neighbors and family -- to do the same. There were seven million cribs recalled in the last two years..Make sure your child isn't sleeping in one of them. Sign up for email alerts from CPSC and KID.
  • Tell your elected officials, local, state and federal -- that children's safety should be a priority
  • Read the stories in our Family Voices site. Many of these families paid the ultimate price of unsafe products.
  • If you have a product that appears to be unsafe, report it to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. This is sometimes the only way unsafe products are removed from the marketplace.
Thank you for your support of Kids In Danger and we look forward to working together to make 2010 a year of real safety advances.

Nancy Cowles, executive director

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009 Parent Survey Provides Insight for Recall Awareness

Kids In Danger released The Illinois Parent Survey on Product Safety today. The survey found that when asked to list issues, parents reported home safety concerns most often above crime, traffic and outside injuries concerns. Yet, parental awareness may not align with parental concern. On average, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recalls children's products over twice a week, but only 43% of parents hear of recalls even once a month.

Most parents still get their recall information from TV news, despite the increased use of the internet. Also, the survey found that consumers are more likely to comply with recalls when given a replacement or refund on their item.

KID will use the results of this survey, along with additional information, to inform our own outreach and education efforts as well as help advocate for more effective recalls.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

RC2 Corp. reaches $1.25 million settlement for lead in paint in Thomas & Friends toys

RC2 Corp., based in Oak Brook, IL, will pay a $1.25 million civil penalty for allegedly violating the federal ban on lead paint in children's toys. The settlement resolves the allegations that RC2 corp. and its subsidiary Learning Curve Brands Inc. knowingly imported and sold toys with lead paint levels above the legal limit set in 1978. CPSC alleged that RC2 did not act to ensure that the toys would meet the lead paint standards, creating a risk of lead poisoning for children. In 2007, RC2 Corp. reported to CPSC that over two dozen styles of their Thomas & Friends toys contained paints with lead levels higher than the 0.06% limit, leading to a highly publicized recall of 1.7 million units. CPSC states that this is the second-highest civil penalty imposed on a toymaker.

The 2007 Thomas & Friends recall was a catalyst for Congressional action toward the new, stricter lead paint regulations of 0.009%, effective August 14, 2009, according to CPSC chair Inez Tenenbaum. As part of the settlement, RC2 denies that it knowingly violated federal lead paint standards.

This past June, Mattel Inc. and its Fisher-Price unit received a fine of $2.3 million for importing and selling toys that exceeded the federal lead limits. While the lead paint provision of the CPSIA of 2008 creates stronger regulations to protect children from the danger of lead poisoning, parents and consumers need to remain alert to recalls for children's toys with excessive lead.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Safety Updates and News on 12/23/09

Here is a brief roundup of some news coming across our desk this week:

A class action lawsuit on behalf of families whose children played with the CSI Fingerprinting Kit by Planet Toys has reached a tentative settlement. The suit alleged asbestos was found in the fingerprinting powder. If you had or have one of these toys, January 14, 2010 is your last chance to register for the settlement. For more information, visit the website.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) this week announced the results of their booster seat testing for fit -- how each seat positions the seatbelt on a child. They tested sixty seats and rates some as Best Bets, Good Bets and Not Recommended, along with those where the data was inconsistent. In addition to the information at IIHS, Consumer Reports, Car Seat Blog and SafeKids also have coverage and advice.

A ban on drop side cribs has been introduced in New York. And the ASTM International recently published the new voluntary standard on Full Size Cribs that also eliminates that design. Because Illinois' Childrens Product Safety Act requires cribs to comply with ASTM standards, cribs with drop sides may violate that law now in Illinois and can't be sold, new or used by commercial sellers.

And we found this on the Toy Industry Association site, Toy Info: a panel discussion with industry safety experts who also happen to be moms -- some good information on checking second hand products and age grading of toys.

And finally, CPSC is holding another 2 day workshop, this one on the development of the Public Database. The panel information and registration is now available at the CPSC site.

Monday, December 21, 2009

CPSC extends stay for testing for lead in children's products

Last week, the Consumer Product Safety Commission voted to lift the stay on testing requirements for some products, including rattles, bike helmets and bunk beds when it expires on February 10, 2010, but will continue the stay for another year on most children's products for third party testing for lead. CPSC also voted to allow an interim enforcement policy that allows component testing for lead, giving some relief to small batch manufacturers. The what and when of stay or no stay is a little I'd refer you all to CPSC's very clear chart which lays it all out. Thoughts?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

CPSC initiates renewed efforts to locate Simplicity cribs

Prompted by the recent death of 7-month-old from Kentucky , CPSC has initiated a new effort to locate the recalled Simplicity drop-side cribs that have now claimed the lives of 11 infants.

The cribs were manufactured by Simplicity and SFCA Inc., but some of them include Graco or Winnie-the-Pooh logos. Plastic connectors on the drop-side can break easily and cause entrapment or suffocation. Besides the known fatalities, the CPSC is aware of 25 other incidents of breakage.

The CPSC issued a Simplicity recall in September 2007, but then last July initiated another recall for more cribs; now all Simplicity wooden dropside cribs have been recalled. The cribs were sold across the nation from January 2005 to June 2009.

Simplicity and SFCA Inc. no longer make cribs, but their negligence continues to take babies lives. It's encouraging that CPSC is taking renewed action, but this baby's tragedy highlights the systemic weaknesses of the recall system. Only 10-30% of all recalled products, it is said, are ever retrieved. Companies should be held accountable not just to do a recall, but to administer an effective recall that takes products out of use.

For now, it is imperative that we all spread the word of this dangerous crib to any families who might still be using it. A complete list of crib recalls can be found in KID's flyer on safe sleep.

CPSC has posted a helpful video. For other related information, please visit

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

CPSC Recalls Roman Shades and Roll-up Blinds

Today the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a recall affecting more than 50 million Roman shades and roll-up blinds due to a strangulation hazard for children. Strangulation can occur with Roman shades when a child places their neck in between the cord loop and the fabric of the shade, or if a child pulls out the cord and wraps it around their neck. Strangulation can occur with roll-up blinds if the loop slides off the blind and a child's neck becomes entrapped in it, or if a child places their neck between the loop and the blind material. The CPSC is aware of 21 incidents involving roman shades and roll-up blinds since 2006 in which 5 children died from strangulation and 16 others experienced near-strangulation.

The recall affects Roman shades and roll-up blinds sold at major retailers including JCPenney, Walmart, Ace Hardware, and Pottery Barn. The Window Covering Safety Council is offering a free repair kit to all owners of these products, available at (800) 506-4636 or online at Parents and caregivers should remove these products immediately until repairs have been made. The best way to protect children from the risk of strangulation is to only use cordless window coverings in homes with young children and childcare settings.

As always, report any incidents or injuries related to window coverings to CPSC. More information about window blind safety is available at Parents for Window Blind Safety.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Amby Motion Bed/Hammock Recall

The CPSC and Amby Baby announced a recall of the Amby Baby Motion Beds after getting reports of two deaths. The babies were entrapped in the product in a position that didn't allow them to get air. See our previous post here for more information.

CPSC has announced a repair kit for the product that will stabilize it to try to prevent movement that might lead to tilting or unsafe positions. On the other hand, Health Canada instead warns its citizens to stop using the product and dispose of it in such a way it can't be used again. They believe that hammocks are inherently unsafe for babies and recommends against their use.

We tend to side with Health Canada. We'll withhold judgement on the 'repair kit' until we see it, but find it hard to believe this product can be made safe for the uses Amby Baby recommends.

In particular, we can't see how this product could be safe for a baby once he or she rolls over or can push up on hands or knees. And yet Amby suggests it can be used up to nine months, well past that development stage for most babies.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Don't use Amby Baby Hammocks or similar products

UPDATE: Amby and CPSC announced a recall this morning, citing two suffocation deaths. The recall says a repair kit will be sent. As soon as we have more information, we'll share it.

We just finished reading this post at the Baby Bargain's Blog and wanted to pass on the warning to our readers. The Amby Baby Hammock has been involved in at least one death (the grieving parent was told their baby was the third) and is not being offered for sale at this time. If you have one, please stop using it immediately and find a safe place for your baby to sleep. We have asked CPSC for any information they may have.

Kids In Danger first raised the issue of this product to the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association back in February 2009, surprised to find a product that didn't even meet the definition of a bassinet 'certified' to the bassinet standard by JPMA. JPMA never answered our questions as to how the product was certified, but has now removed any mention of it from their site. But the Amby Baby site still sports the JPMA logo saying the product was 'certified for safety and effectiveness'.

Most of the seven million cribs recalled for entrapment and other hazards in the past two years and responsible for numerous deaths were also JPMA certified.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Children's Sleep Environment Recalls Reach Historic High

Recalls of children’s sleep environment products by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) have totaled over 9 million units in the last two years, culminating with the largest crib recall in history of Stork Craft’s 2.1 million drop-side cribs this November.

Kids In Danger, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting children by improving children’s product safety, released Unsafe While Sleeping: Children’s Sleep Environment Recalls: September 2007-November 2009 today. The report explores the explosion of infant sleep environment recalls and the hazards the cribs, bassinets and portable cribs present.

The report found over 2,200 incidents of children’s sleep product malfunctioning that led to 70 reported injuries and 16 deaths. According to Nancy Cowles, Executive Director of Kids In Danger, “These incidents include only those already reported at the time of the recall. Cribs are the one place that infants and young children are left alone. More needs to be done to protect children from these hazards in the particularly vulnerable environment of cribs and other sleep environments.”

Additional findings of the report include:
• Two manufacturers, Simplicity and Stork Craft, accounted for 62% of recalls.
• Simplicity products were involved in 69% of reported incidents of product malfunctioning and 8 out of 16 deaths.
• Entrapment hazards associated with suffocation or strangulation accounted for 75% of recalls.
• Falls accounted for 29% of recalls and 66% of injuries.
• Most injuries and deaths occurred in cribs (61%) and play yards (37%).
• Drop-side cribs account for over half of the reported injuries and 10 out of 16 deaths.

KID recommends that all infants sleep in a crib made after 1999 in order to ensure current safety standards. Parents should check sleep products against the recall list at and make sure to follow assembly directions, being mindful that all parts are accounted for and fit together snugly, especially in drop-side cribs. Parents can sign up for safety updates at In addition, parents should report problems with a product to both the manufacturer and CPSC and urge Congress to continue its oversight of CPSC.

More information about Kids In Danger and children’s sleep environment safety is available at or (312) 595-0649.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

UPDATE: Suffolk County Bans Drop-Side Cribs

Suffolk County is the first city in the nation to put a ban on the sale of drop-side baby cribs. Unfortunately, millions of drop-side baby cribs have been recalled due to their connections with a number of injuries and deaths to infant children- including the nation’s largest crib recall on Monday, November 22nd . Before signing the nation’s first drop-side crib ban Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy declared that, “one of the last places a parent assumes their child may be in danger would be in his or her own crib”... “We owe it to our youngsters to minimize their exposure to dangerous and potentially deadly products, and Legislator Horsley’s landmark legislation will provide parents with one less hazard to worry about.”

Monday, November 23, 2009

Largest crib recall ever announced: Storkcraft

CPSC has announced the recall of 2.1 million cribs made by Storkcraft. They were sold from 1993 through this year and also sold under the Fisher Price name from 1997 through 2004. The company, CPSC and Health Canada have 110 reports of incidents of dropside detachments in these cribs resulting in 15 entrapments and 20 falls. There were four deaths in these cribs. We know one baby in Louisiana died this May. The question is, were the other deaths earlier and did delay in announcing the recall contribute to this death or any of the others?

Kids In Danger supports the move of voluntary standards setting bodies and retailers away from drop side cribs. But the underlying issue of hardware failures and durability must be addressed in the crib standard by requiring more rigorous testing to stingent standards for durability.

In addition, this highlights the need for a public safety database. With such a searchable database of information, parents and caregivers would have learned of these incidents sooner and perhaps been able to take swifter action to protect their children.

The recall involves a repair kit from Storkcraft that immobilizes the dropside -- converting it to a fixed side cribs. KID believes that in recalls involving sleep environments, especially where a death is involved, consumers should be offered a replacement product or a refund or store credit.

Update: Storkcraft's website and phone lines have been overwhelmed by the volume of calls and hits. They posted this link on Facebook and a blog with more information.

CPSC about to announce huge crib recall

The airwaves are buzzing this morning with talk of a massive recall of cribs -- with drop-sides -- tomorrow. While the crib makes and models aren't known yet, it is a good opportunity to remind everyone with a baby in a crib to give their crib a once over this morning for safety.

  • Find the brand name and model and check at to make sure your crib hasn't already been recalled. If it has, stop using immediately and contact the manufacturer for the repair, refund, or replacement. Contact information is usually listed at the bottom of the recall notice.
  • Check all hardware on your crib to make sure it is all secure and in place and not broken -- look at plastic hardware especially for wear or stress marks or signs of breakage. If hardware is missing, stop using the product and contact the manufacturer for replacement hardware.
  • Set the mattress at the appropriate height and always leave the sides in the highest position. Once a baby starts to move onto their hands and knees or attempts to pull up to a standing position, move the mattress to the lowest position and remove mobiles.
  • Remove all soft bedding from the crib. Babies are safest in a bare crib, on their backs, with a sleep sack type outfit if necessary for warmth.
  • If you do have a problem with your crib, report it immediately to the manufacturer and the CPSC.
  • If you accept a hand-me-down crib, use a crib for a second child or pass yours along -- always make sure it hasn't been recalled, has all the hardware and instructions, and isn't older than 8 years -- standards have improved much since then. If it is a dropside, we would recommend NOT passing it along or using a second-hand crib.
Let us know how your crib checks out and pass this reminder onto any friends or families with babies in cribs.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The 24th Annual Toy Safety Report

On Tuesday, November 25, Illinois PIRG released its 24th annual toy safety report, Trouble In Toyland. The report highlights the year's most pressing toy safety hazards including choking, lead, phthalates (toxic chemical), and excessive loudness.

Here were some of the most significant findings:
  • Choking hazards were the leading cause of children’s product recalls in 2009. Three children died as a result of choking on a toy or toy part in 2008 alone. There is a ban on small toy parts for toys intended for children under the age of three; however, toys with this hazard are still available on store shelves.
  • PIRG found some toys with volume levels over the 85-decibel limit set by the American Society for Testing and Materials standards. Loudness of toys is of increasing concern as nearly 15% of children age 6-17 have signs of hearing loss.
  • While the first law regulating the amount of phthalates in children’s toys and products went into effect in 2009, setting the limit at 0.1%, Illinois PIRG identified children’s products with up to 7.2% concentrations of phthalates.
  • Lead regulations have also become increasingly stringent in the last year. Nonetheless, children’s products with dangerous levels of lead remain on store shelves, including Barbie, Disney, and Dora brands tested in California.
For tips on avoiding common children's product safety hazards, read this flyer packed with tips from Kids In Danger to help you shop safely this holiday season!


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

High lead levels found in children's products sold in California

The Center for Environmental Health (CEH) in California recently reported on the testing of 250 children's products, finding high lead levels in seven of the items. These include Barbie, Disney, and Dora brands. While the number of products found containing high lead levels has decreased from last year, the high amounts of lead found is disturbing. Of the seven products found to contain higher-than-legal lead levels, the range of lead levels varied from twice the legal limit to 65 times the legal limit.

California Attorney General Jerry Brown has released a letter to the retailers of these items (including Target, Walgreens, Sears, and TJ Maxx) notifying them that his office will be enforcing lead standards. The testing commissioned by CEH was funded by a grant from the California Attorney General.

At a town meeting on toy safety in New York, Inez Tenenbaum, Chairman of the CPSC, stated that the decrease in numbers of toys with high lead levels this year is a result of tougher lead standards in the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. Michael Green, Executive Director of CEH, stated that parents should remain aware this holiday season that some children's products contain high lead levels and called for manufacturers and retailers to do more to protect children from this hazard.

The lead provisions in the CPSIA have gone into effect, but the testing requirement was stayed by the CPSC until at least February 2010.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

CPSC releases new number on toy injuries and deaths

Today, CPSC released their latest available statistics on deaths and injuries associated with toys. This report briefly provides updated summary information on toy-related fatalities for the years of 2006 and 2007, as well as gives detailed information on toy related fatalities for 2008.

In 2008, there were an estimated 235,300 toy-related injuries among children younger than 15 years of age treated in hospital emergency rooms. Children under five were rushed to the emergency room for toy-related injuries 82,300 times. There were 19 deaths reported. Thirteen of the deaths were to children under age 5. Riding toys, rubber balls, and balloons were the items most often involved in deaths. Riding toys, including tricycles, non-motorized scooters, were actually the leading cause of deaths and injuries (26%).

An estimated 47% of emergency department treated injuries were classified as lacerations, contusions, or abrasion; while 45% of all injuries treated occurred to the head and face area. Most deaths were from drowning, motor vehicle involvement, or airway obstruction from a small toy or a small part of a toy.

CPSC also reported on toy recalls, showing they had declined this year and attributed that to the increased funding and authority CPSC received through CPSIA and manufacturers' compliance with safety standards.

These statistics are a reminder that helmets and safety gear should be worn at all times and be sized to fit, all plastic wrappings, un-inflated and or broken balloons should be discarded immediately and kept away from children. In addition, parents should avoid toys with small parts, which can cause choking, and that toys should be age appropriate. Please report all problems with toy products to the manufacturer and CPSC.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Maclaren Stroller Recall: Update

On Monday, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a recall of 1 million Maclaren strollers sold in the last decade. The recall includes all single and double umbrella strollers, which pose a risk of fingertip laceration and amputation for children. The CPSC has received 15 incident reports, including 12 instances of child fingertip amputations. The hazard results from children getting their fingers pinched in the hinge while parents open or close the stroller. News of the recall first appeared in the Baby Bargains Blog over the weekend.

Maclaren has responded by offering a free repair kit with hinge covers to all owners of these strollers. However, consumers have reported difficulty in accessing the repair kits. Maclaren's website and phone lines were overloaded on Monday, preventing some consumers from ordering the repair kits. Maclaren has also posted a YouTube video with directions on how to install the hinge covers.

Hinge hazards are common to all folding strollers and the CPSC is looking into the need for further recalls or regulations for stroller hinges. Parents should stop using any Maclaren stroller included in the recall until the hinge covers are installed. As with any recall, CPSC is still interested in reports of injuries or incidents with the product.

Update: On Thursday The New York Post reported that Maclaren knew about the risk of finger amputation in their umbrella strollers at least five years ago and failed to report the hazard to the CPSC. In July 2004 a 23-month-old lost his pinky finger, resulting in a settlement between his family and Maclaren. In 2007, an engineer and former compliance officer with the CPSC testified that Maclaren folding strollers have a design defect in comparison to other strollers for children and that the design violates federal regulations intended to prevent a "scissoring effect." The CPSC is still investigating the case.

Update: Maclaren has responded to many of the concerns about the online form and repair kit process and made it easier to get the needed hinge covers.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Latest CPSC Report on Nursery Product Related Injuries & Deaths

Recently, the CPSC released their latest available statistics on injuries and deaths related to nursery products. This report details the nursery product related injury estimates from 2008 in which an estimated 63,700 injuries among children under the age of five were treated in hospital emergency rooms.

The items most frequently involved in these incidents were carriages/strollers, infant carriers and car seat carriers (used outside of cars), cribs/mattresses, and high chairs. Stroller injuries rose 33% to 12, 400 from 9,300. The leading cause of injuries were falls in which the head was the most frequently injured body part -- 48% (which is up 4% from last year's report of 44%) of the reported injuries involved the head.

The most recent numbers CPSC is releasing on deaths are from 2004 through 2006 in which 247 deaths occurred. CPSC estimates an average of 82 deaths annually involving nursery products. About 31 of those deaths annually involve cribs/ mattresses, with an average of 12 deaths in baby baths/bath seats/ bathinettes and 11 deaths involving playpens/ play yards and bassinets/cradles. The causes of these deaths range from positional asphyxia and strangulation to drowning. These statistics are a reminder that before using any sleep environment for your baby, check to make sure it is properly assembled, with no missing or broken hardware; that it has not been recalled; and then, remember, bare is best. Remove all soft bedding from a crib or bassinet and use only the mattress supplied or recommended by the manufacturer. Report all problems with a nursery product to the manufacturer and CPSC. Lastly, remain vigilant to your baby and their surroundings.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Target, Toys R Us and Kmart agree to lead paint settlement

Target, Toys R Us and Kmart have agreed to pay a total of $454,000 in fines for selling toys with prohibited amounts of lead paint.

The California Attorney General's Office filed the suit in November 2007 after concluding that the quantity of lead paint violated federal and state law.

Many hope that these penalties will serve as a deterrent for future violations. "The settlement provides a remedy for past violations", said Harrison Pollack, a state deputy attorney general, "and makes it less likely that there will be future violations of lead standards."

Thursday, November 5, 2009

BACK to Sleep: SIDS deaths in child care

One of the leading causes of deaths for infants up to the age of one is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). One in five SIDS deaths occur among infants who are in child care. Additional research has found a link between SIDS and babies who are placed to sleep on their stomachs. In light of this information there are several ways that parents and caregivers can help reduce SIDS risk:
  • Always place babies on their backs when sleeping.
  • Infants should be placed on a firm mattress or sleep surface in a safe crib. Do not place babies on or near stuffed animals, pillows, quilts or other soft surfaces.
  • Check to make sure the crib is not missing any hardware and has not been recalled.
  • Dress infants appropriately warm in light sleepwear. The room temperature should be at comfortable levels for an adult
Parents and caregivers should talk together about safe sleep. For more information and tips on safe sleep in child care, click here.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Toxic toys found in Illinois

Illinois PIRG (a public advocacy group) recently released a report on toy toxicity.

The research team selected 87 toys different toys for testing, all purchased at either Target, Toys' R Us, Claire's Boutique or Dollar Tree. They focused on four types of chemicals: lead, phthalates, bromine and cadmium.

The results were eye-opening. They found 18 toys with lead, 6 of which exceeded the 300 ppm federal limit. A cell phone charm from Claire's even had as much as 710,000 ppm, and a toy duck from Dollar Tree contained 34,000 parts per million. Two other toys (also from Claire's) violated federal levels for phthalates, a Little Princess handbag and an Elmo's lunchbox. And they also found 32 products with bromine, and 2 with cadmium.

Lead and phthalates can severely affect children's cognitive and physical development, and are banned under the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) of 2008. Bromine and cadmium, on the other hand, are thought to be potentially dangerous, but are not yet regulated by the government. Some research has connected bromine (used in flame retardants) with thyroid complications, most threatening to pregnant women and children. Cadmium is a known carcinogen that is linked to various illnesses from nausea, to kidney damage to lung cancer.

To keep your children safe, make sure to stay in tune with recalls and product safety tests. For recall information you may visit the CPSC website. And for more information on toxic chemicals in products, you should visit

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A pledge for greater cooperation at a U.S-China product safety summit

On October 21 Inez Tenenbaum, Chairman of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), delivered a keynote address at the biennial product safety summit held between the United States and China. It marked the fourth time that CPSC and AQSIC (China's national standards and inspections body) have met to enhance intergovernmental cooperation and to improve the efficacy of joint regulation.

The theme of this year's summit, "promoting best practices by Chinese manufacturers and U.S. importers to maximize product safety", underlies CPSC's approach to create a partnership based on communication and mutual accountability. "We must work as global partners", said Tenenbaum, "to create a systematic approach to ensuring product safety, from raw materials to the finished product, from the toy factory in Shanghai, to the toy importer in San Francisco, to the toy store in Seattle."

Tenenbaum placed special on emphasis on toy safety (lead paint in particular), noting the "new paradigm for standards" that emerged with the passage of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA). She cited the stricter lead paint limits (90 ppm) and the mandatory child product testing program enacted under the new law.

There's reason to believe that the American-Chinese relationship may bear fruit. According to Tenenbaum, toy recalls decreased from 80 to 40 per year between the 2008-2009 fiscal years. Of these, lead violations decreased from 40 to 16 per year during that time period. It also appears that AQSIC (China's regulatory body) has become more determined in promoting and enforcing product safety. They've closed thousands of non-complying Chinese manufacturers, and have become more willing to exchange information and to promote America's "best practices" throughout the manufacturing community.

But all of this is just the beginning. Tenenbaum reiterates the U.S. goal "to have no toy recalls and no lead paint violations," and adds that "we are certainly moving in the right direction."

Tenenbaum will continue her diplomatic efforts to bolster international cooperation this Wednesday in Toronto. There she will speak at the International Consumer Product Health and Safety Organization's annual symposium and discuss ways that Canada and the U.S. can better harmonize product safety standards.

Update: View Chairman Tenenbaum's ICPHSO address in Toronto.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The dangers of car seats - out of the car

A new study by Dr. Shital Parikh indicates that car seats should be used carefully outside of cars. Babies can fidget and tip themselves over when placed on improper surfaces. And, if the restraints aren't used, babies can fall from the carrier while being carried or placed on a raised surface. Between 2003-2007 over 40,000 babies were sent to the emergency room after falling from (in their car seats) counters, tables, sofas or beds. Many serious fractures were reported and 3 infants died. In addition to injuries from falls, babies can suffocate if they fall on a soft surface or strangle on the restraints.

Dr. Parikh emphasizes that car seats may not be safe for use outside the car and that manufacturers should be more effective in warning parents of misuse and in designing seats with more stability.

For more information on the study, please visit's article. And for more general information on car seat usage please visit the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Friday, October 16, 2009

National Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Week

On October 6th the U.S. Senate unanimously designated this week, October 18-24, 2009, as National Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Week.

Lead paint is one of the most common, yet preventable threats to our children. Exposure can cause severe physiological and cognitive defects. Every year dozens of toys are recalled for exceeding permitted levels of lead paint. It's estimated that 240,000 children under the age of 6 in the U.S. have harmful levels of lead in their blood.

With the passage of the 2008 Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), Congress began to regulate lead paint with much stricter standards. In the past year Congress has initiated a reductions schedule that currently allows only 300 ppm (parts per million) and may drop to 100 ppm by August 2011. In addition, many types of products are now required to undergo mandatory 3rd party testing, proving the absence of lead.

The most common source of lead for children is still from housing stock painted with lead-tainted paint before the 1970's. All children under six should have their lead levels checked regularly by a doctor.

Visit here for more information on lead poisoning. For information on lead recalls, you may visit the CPSC's website.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Mattel agrees to multi-million dollar settlement

On October 13th, a preliminary settlement of as much as $50 million was announced in a class action suit against Mattel and its subsidiary, Fisher Price.

The class action suit was filed on behalf of millions of American families who purchased dangerous toys recalled in 2006 and 2007. These 14 million toys were recalled for excessive levels of lead paint or for small loose magnets that cause extreme internal damage or death if swallowed. Some of Mattel's most popular toys, like Polly Pocket, Barbie and Dora the Explorer, were included in the recalls.

Terms of the settlement, if accepted by the court, will include refunds for those who bought the products as well as reimbursement for medical expenses for lead testing and donations to the national network of children's hospitals.

Local efforts to ban drop-side cribs prevail

On October 13th the Suffolk County legislature (NY) unanimously voted to prohibit the sale of drop-side cribs throughout the county. The vote followed a passionate plea from Susan Cirigilano, a mother who lost her 6-month-old baby boy from suffocation in a defective crib in 2004.

Drop-side cribs with a vertically adjusting side continue to kill babies every year, but still haven't been banned on the national level. Wayne Horsley, the lawmaker who sponsored the bill, hopes that surrounding counties and the state legislature itself pass similar bans in the coming months. The County Executive must sign the measure, but must first hold a public hearing, expected later this month.

ASTM (a national standards body), is moving towards the publication of the industry's new voluntary standard which will include a provision requiring fixed sides on cribs. CPSC will be developing a new mandatory crib standard that may include the ban, but that won't be out until 2011.

For more background information, you may visit the Chicago Tribune's recent article.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

CPSC responds to GAO report on minority children and injury

Recently, the CPSC responded to a study conducted by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) that suggests that minority children may have higher rates of preventable injuries and deaths associated with children products. GAO noted that better data collection and assessment of consumer information efforts could help protect minority children. GAO also looked at what actions the CPSC had taken through its public information and education initiatives to minimize the occurrence of these particular injuries and deaths.

In response, the CPSC has implemented and begun to explore a number of ways to improve their data collections efforts including:

  • Transforming NEISS data collection software with respect to racial and ethnic classification
  • Presenting materials on the importance of collecting standardized race and ethnicity when conducting on-site evaluations and training
  • Leveraging data collection efforts of other government agencies to gather consumer product-related death and injury data involving minority children and
  • Exploring ways to collect race and ethnicity data from consumer complaints received through their web site and/or hotline.

Furthermore, CPSC will continue its current outreach strategies and has activities planned for 2010 including:

  • An outreach tour in major cities with extremely diverse populations to provide safety messaging in large community settings
  • A community-based outreach plan to grassroots organizations that target diverse populations
  • A public awareness campaign, using bilingual (English and Spanish) messages and materials, to raise awareness of the new public database.
  • Drowning prevention campaign, including passing out materials to key Spanish

For more information, read the full report at

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Bathtubs, Bathseats, Buckets are Biggest Drowning Danger

As summer comes to an end and outdoor pools become a memory, parents and caregivers tend to put the fear of a drowning accident to the back of their mind. CPSC reminds families that drowning is not simply a seasonal concern. "For 2003-2005, CPSC staff received reports of an average of 90 children younger than 5 years of age drowned in bathtubs (62%), baby seats or bathinettes (15%), buckets and pails (11%), landscaping or yard products (6%) and other products (4%)."

The full article, CPSC Warns of In-Home Drowning Dangers with Bathtubs, Bathseats, Buckets reminds parents the importance of water safety and goes over key preventative measures to ensure children's security. Simple, yet important tips like never leaving your child alone near water and keeping your child within arm's reach when in a bathtub are outlined. Reminders are also given-- children do not need to be submerged in water to drown! While the CPSC report contains information about baby bath seats, KID recommends against their use because of the increased likelihood that a baby will be left alone in a tub with the device.

Recalled water products may increase the likelihood of an accident. Being aware of any recently recalled items and following the Consumer Product Safety Commission's bath safety guidelines will help families to be safe and at ease all year round.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

National Fire Prevention Week -- check for products with burn or fire hazards

It being National Fire Prevention Week, we'd like to reemphasize the threat fire or burns can pose to your children and to offer some advice on protecting them.

Many safety groups have great tips for avoiding fire and burn injuries. Here are just a few..
  • Never leave the stove or oven unattended in a child's presence.
  • Keep space heaters at least 3 ft away from all curtains, papers or clothing.
  • Make sure there are smoke detectors in all bedrooms and throughout the home (test them monthly).
But being careful ourselves is unfortunately not enough. Unsafe children's products can also present a burn or fire danger. A Kids In Danger report found that between 2002-2007 there were 40 child product recalls for fire and burn hazards, with toys (47%) and clothing (30%) taking up the lion's share. Most injuries during this period resulted from battery failure, but flammability and electric failure are also serious concerns. The Hasbro Easy-Bake oven, for instance, had the highest number of injuries (87) throughout the five-year period. Also watch out for ignitable clothing, especially during the Halloween season. Tragedies do happen, so make sure your child's costume is made of flame-resistant materials.

These dangerous products could still be in your home, even if they'd been formally recalled years ago. To be safe, take an inventory of all children's products in your home and visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) website to check their recall status or call their hotline at (800) 638-2772.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Target to pay $600,000 for a lead paint violation

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has alleged that Target knowingly imported and sold various toys -including Anima and Sunny Patch Chairs- with federally prohibited levels of lead paint.

CPSC has provisionally accepted a $600,000 penalty settlement, noting that retailers and importers will be held to the same standards as manufacturers.

Target has voluntarily recalled the toys and denies all allegations of lawful misconduct.

Consumer Reports offers new safety alert website

On September 28th Consumer Reports (CR) released a new website specifically geared towards child safety. To promote their new resource CR has teamed up with the National Parent Teacher Association (PTA) and National School Board Association (NSBA). The PTA and NSBA have promised to inform their members about the new alert system, which could potentially help millions of parents receive timely information about child product recalls.

The site aggregates all child-relevant recall notices from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Apart from the alerts, CR provides a whole host of useful, category-specific safety videos, such as this one on safety gates.

For more information, you may also want to visit, which lists all federal recalls and provides a portal to the CPSC, FDA and NHTSA.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Local, national efforts to ban drop-side cribs

Wayne Horsley, a member of New York's Suffolk County legislature, has been spearheading a local effort to ban the sale of dangerous drop-side cribs. The drop-side design has been responsible for dozens of infant deaths and thousands of injuries throughout the nation.

The Suffolk legislature will vote on the proposal October 13th, the same day that ASTM (a national industry standards body) is due to make their own ruling. You may learn more about the national issue by visiting the Chicago Tribune's article.

If you are a resident of Suffolk County and would like to express your support for the safety ban, you may contact your local representative at the legislature's website. Make it known how you feel about your child’s safety.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Changes to Illinois law improve posting requirement

In Illinois, a new law changes the recall posting requirements for children's products. Public Act 096-0590 amends the preexisting Children's Product Safety Act by increasing the required 120-day posting of recalled children's products to 240-day postings for the following items: full-size cribs, non-full-size cribs, toddler beds, car seats, high chairs, bath seats, play yards, stationary activity centers, infant carriers, strollers, walkers, swings, bassinets and cradles. Signed by Governor Pat Quinn on August 18, 2009 and sponsored by Rep. Anthony DeLuca (D-Chicago Heights), this law became effective immediately.

Another important change to the Children's Product Safety Act under PA 096-0590 is a retailer's ability to now post recalled items electronically. Previously, retailers were mandated to post paper recall notices within the store property. Parents and caregivers be aware-- if you don't see posters of recalls in your consumer location, check a kiosk or computer terminal in the store for electronic postings. Stores are still responsible to post a physical sign to alert consumers to the electronic postings' location. Look for links such as "product recall" if there is not a warning notice on the main page.

As the Product Safety Letter recently stated, "Illinois has been a bellwether state on recall effectiveness." The state passed the first Children's Product Safety Act in the nation in 1999, banning the sale or commercial use of recalled children's products. The original Act was amended in 2005 to require the posting and consumer notification requirements. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan takes seriously her obligation to enforce the act as well as other measures to protect children from unsafe products.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

CPSC 2.0: Safety via social media

CPSC is launching “CPSC 2.0,” a comprehensive social networking initiative that allows the agency to directly reach millions of consumers with lifesaving safety information. The centerpiece of the initiative is CPSC’s “OnSafety” blog, which contains messages, articles, videos, podcasts, and other information. It features a ‘Recall Widget’ tool that anyone can add to their website to list recent recalls. CPSC can now also be found on YouTube, Twitter, and FlickR. According to Chairman Inez Tenenbaum, CPSC plans to use every available technology to forward its safety education goal.

The launch of CPSC 2.0 coincides with CPSC’s Furniture and TV Tip-over Education Campaign. CPSC hopes to raise public awareness of tip-over dangers in the home through dramatic videos, blogging, and podcasting.

Search This Blog