Monday, August 31, 2009

Reminder: Check bassinets for deadly recalls

Last year, CPSC recalled 900,000 Simplicity Bassinets sold under the Simplicity, Graco and Disney names after they had reports of two deaths. As we reported earlier this month, they have now learned of at least two additional deaths.

To help spread the word about these recalls, the Illinois Attorney General's office has developed posters in English, Spanish and Polish. Please download and print these lifesaving posters and place them where parents might see them: child care facilities, doctor's offices, neighborhood businesses, etc.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

CPSC holds public hearing on FY 11 priorities and agenda

Kids In Danger, along with Consumers Union and others participated on August 25 in a public hearing at CPSC on their proposed agenda and priorities for Fiscal Year 2011, starting in October 2010. KID's testimony included our three main priorities: greater transparency, stronger mandatory standards for juvenile products and better recall effectiveness.

The hearing was notable because for the first time, it was in front of all five of the CPSC commissioners. For years CPSC has operated with two commissioners.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Take your old nursery products to Toys"R"Us for a 20% coupon

Toys"R"Us, Inc. has announced a national program allowing customers to trade-in used baby products in exchange for savings on a new item. During the company's "Great Trade-In" event, running August 28 through September 20, all Babies"R"Us and Toys"R"Us locations will accept used cribs, car seats, bassinets, strollers, travel systems, play yards, and high chairs in exchange for a 20% savings on the purchase of any new baby item from select manufacturers. The event is intended to raise awareness about the potential safety hazards associated with used baby products and to provide an opportunity to take such items out of circulation.

KID warns that less than 30% of affected items are returned when a product is recalled, and nursery product recalls have been on the rise all year. Beyond recalls, older and used products entail special problems from wear and tear and noncompliance with current safety standards. For more information, see KID's fliers on second-hand products, safe donations, and yard sale safety. Product resellers should read CPSC’s handbook for details on safe, lawful resale.

This move by Toys"R"Us is one way to help reduce the number of unsafe products in use. The New York State Consumer Protection Board also supports the effort.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Media vs. Real Life--magazines depict unsafe sleep environments

A recent study in Pediatrics found that more than 1/3 of photos in women's magazines depict babies in unsafe sleep positions and that 2/3 of sleep environments depicted are also unsafe. The study was led by SIDS researchers Rachel Moon, MD, a pediatrician, and Brandi Joyner at Children's National Medical Center, Washington, D.C. It analyzed images of sleeping infants in articles and advertisements found in 24 magazines circulated among 20- to 40-year old women. Researchers evaluated whether the baby was sleeping on its side or stomach rather than its back, and whether hazards such as soft bedding were present. According to Dr. Moon, there were "major discrepancies" between what the mainstream media depict and what doctors recommend in order to prevent SIDS.

To reduce the risk of SIDS, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies be placed on their backs while sleeping, on a separate surface from their parents, and without blankets, pillows, or other soft bedding.

The study, titled "Infant Sleep Environments Depicted in Magazines Targeted to Women of Childbearing Age," will appear in the September issue of Pediatrics.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Simplicity Bassinets: more deaths

Just about a year ago, CPSC and retailers recalled this Simplicity Bassinet as well as those sold under Graco and Disney names after learning of a second death in the poorly designed product. The first death took place almost 2 years ago in September 2007. Now CPSC is re-announcing the recall after they learned of 2 more deaths and two entrapments in the product.

The bassinet, designed (poorly) to convert to a bedside sleeper, leaves a gap that if not covered completely with the fabric cover, presenting an entrapment hazard. At least 4 babies have been caught in that gap and died.

Please, print out the notice from the CPSC today and/or forward this post to anyone you know who may be using this deadly product. Child care facilities, parents, grandparents, nurseries at places of worship, etc might all be using this, unaware of how dangerous it has proven to be.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

TGH International Trading to pay $31,500 for violating federal safety law

CPSC has announced that TGH International Trading Inc. will pay a $31,500 fine for knowingly importing and selling toys that did not meet the Federal Hazardous Substances Act requirements. TGH imported more than 11,000 toys into the US between March 2005 and June 2006. The toys contained small parts that posed choking and aspiration hazards. Many of the hazardous toys were seized before reaching store shelves thanks to port inspections and the joint investigations of CPSC and US Customs and Border Protection (CBP). CPSC is not aware of any incidents involving these products.

Chairman Inez Tenenbaum says that CPSC's authority to seek higher fines does not mean that serious violations by smaller businesses will be ignored.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

GAO releases report on imported product oversight

The GAO released a report on CPSC’s oversight of imported products. CPSC’s staff and resources have become strained in ensuring the safety of an increasing volume of toys, children’s clothing, and other items produced in foreign countries. Between 1998 and 2007, the value of imported products increased 101%, while products imported from China almost quadrupled to constitute 42% of all imports. The number and variety of products are also on rise, and increasingly complex products consist of parts from multiple countries.

The GAO recommends that CPSC efficiently implement the key provisions of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), improve its ability to target shipments of unsafe products, and develop a long-term plan to ensure the safety of imported consumer products. Practically speaking, CPSC must develop a relationship with US Customs and Border Production (CBP) in order to access data necessary for identifying shipments and carrying out inspections.

For more information, read the full report or the highlights page.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

GAO releases report on racial disparities in preventable injuries

The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) has concluded their study to assess disparities in the risks and incidence of preventable injuries and deaths among certain racial minority children. The study was required by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) in light of the 29,400 consumer product-related deaths in 2004 estimated by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

The conclusions? GAO recommends that CPSC first collects better data in order to accurately measure real differences in incidence of consumer product-related injuries and deaths among specific populations. CPSC must also develop improved ways of assessing how well safety messages are received and implemented by intended consumer audiences. Despite the missing data, CPSC has tailored some of its safety information to reach minority groups, especially by translating its media into other languages like Spanish, and has formed relationships with other organizations to disseminate materials to specific populations.

For more information, read the full report or the highlights page.

Happy Birthday CPSIA!

The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 was signed into law one year ago today. This complex legislation addresses a wide range of product safety issues, many of them aimed at keeping children safe. Provisions of the new Act and new standards will be coming into effect gradually over the next few years. But on this day, the anniversary of the Act, several new provisions go into effect. Here's our take on the new requirements:

Reduced lead levels: Total lead content drops from 600 parts per million (ppm) to 300ppm and surface coatings and paint drops to 90ppm allowable lead. While children are exposed to lead from a wide variety of sources -- the most pervasive is in housing stock -- lead poisoning is cumulative, so even a small amount of lead from a toy or necklace adds to what the child has already been exposed to. The American Academy of Pediatrics has repeatedly addressed the risk lead poses to our children and the fact that there is no safe level of lead. CPSC has put in place exemptions to the lead testing requirement and continue to offer guidance on this issue.

Higher civil penalty limits: The CPSIA gives CPSC's ability to fine companies for violations real teeth by raising the limits from a $1.8 million maximum to $15 million. This larger potential penalty might just encourage more manufacturers to play by the rules, rather than accepting small penalty amounts as the cost of doing business.

Tracking labels on children's products: Every time there is a recall of a children's product, especially one that goes back many years, KID and probably CPSC and the company gets many calls and emails -- is my product part of the recall? Older models often have no identifying markers that can show with certainty which products are recalled and which are safe. With the new tracking labels, not only will consumers be able to tell more easily if their item is recalled, but manufacturers will be able to target recalls more narrowly since identical looking items can be sorted by the information on the tracking label. We applaud all the hard work manufacturers are doing to comply with this important safety measure.

Catalog labeling: With more shopping done through the mail or online, CPSIA will now require that the same warning labels that appear on the front of the package when you buy a toy in the store must also appear in the print catalog and on the internet. This allows parents to consider that safety information before they purchase a toy, rather than after the fact.

In addition, two new mandatory standards for bath seats and infant walkers will be out within the next few weeks for comments. The CPSIA, in a section named after Danny Keysar whose parents founded KID, requires CPSC to draft and publish new mandatory standards for infant and toddler durable goods.

Little Tikes recalls 1.6 million toy toolbenchs and trucks with hazardous play nails.

Does your child (or their child care facility or school) have a toy tool set from Little Tikes that contains these nails? If so, discontinue use immediately. The nails are a choking hazard -- one eleven month old boy had to be hospitalized when the nail lodged in his throat.

The nails are part of four different workbenches and a toolset that came with a ride-on pick-up truck sold from March 1994 (!) through this summer. A total of 1.6 million toys are involved in the recall.

Contact Little Tikes for free replacement nails.

A similarly designed nail in a Playskool workbench that led to two deaths was recalled in 2006. What took Little Tikes and CPSC so long to stop selling these?

Just a reminder -- with the new safety provisions of the CPSIA, it is now illegal to sell any of these products with the hazardous nails.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Northup & Adler confirmed as CPSC comissioners

Today the Senate unanimously confirmed Anne Northup and Robert Adler to serve as CPSC commissioners. All five commissioner posts mandated by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) are now filled.

CPSC launches “Resale Round-up” campaign

Yesterday the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced the Top Ten list of recalled children’s products as part of its “Resale Roundup” campaign. CPSC is partnering with the National Association of Resale & Thrift Shops (NARTS), the Salvation Army, and state agencies to increase outreach to resale stores. Chairman Inez Tenenbaum warns that the resale of recalled products is a violation of federal law and puts children’s lives at risk. CPSC’s 1999 study found that nearly 70% of resale stores sold at least one recalled or hazardous product. Aside from a recall, secondhand products pose special hazards due to wear and tear from previous use and failure to meet current safety standards and the 2008 Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA).

To keep dangerous products off the market, re-sellers should check their product inventory against CPSC’s recall listings and read KID’s Guidelines for Secondhand Sellers. For comprehensive updates, sign up for CPSC’s Email Announcements listing all recalls and KID’s monthly Email Alerts listing all child product recalls and product safety news. Dangerous products also tend to turn up at summer yard sales. If you are buying or selling items at a yard sale, refer to CPSC’s handbook and KID’s safety tips.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Adler/Northup hearing

This morning the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation held the nominations hearing for CPSC Commissioners-Designate Anne Northup and Robert Adler. View the webcast and read Northup and Adler’s opening statements. The final vote should take place by Friday.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Northup nominated for CPSC commissioner--hearing on Aug 5

President Obama has nominated former US Representative Anne Northup (1997-2007) for the last open commissioner position at the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Northup is a Republican from Kentucky and holds a degree in business and economics from St. Mary’s College in Indiana. Robert Adler, who was nominated for CPSC commissioner in May along with CPSC Chairman Inez Tenebaum, is also pending confirmation. Adler is a professor in business and law at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has served on the Consumers Union board for 20 years. The Senate Commerce Committee is scheduled to meet August 5 to consider both nominees

Prior to the appointment of Tenenbaum, CPSC operated for three years with only two commissioners (Nancy Nord and Thomas Moore). The recently passed Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act increased the number of CPSC commissioners from 3 to 5. With all five positions filled, the new product safety regulations stand a better chance of effective implementation.

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