The Checkout

The Product Safety Bill: Not Done Yet

Annys Shin

Last week, House and Senate lawmakers met for the second time to hash out their differences on product safety reform legislation. Remember that? Congress's attempt to protect us from lead paint on toys and dots that turn into the date rape drug when you swallow them?

Anyway, while they whittled down the number of things they disagree about, they still haven't resolved everything. The outstanding issues include a ban on phthalates--chemicals that make plastic soft and have been linked to reproductive problems--and preemption. In English, that means whether some of the new standards and testing protocols that will go into effect when this legislation finally becomes law will override state standards and testing protocols.

The lawmakers did agree on a few things including the establishment of a searchable online database of product safety complaints that consumers will be able to consult.

For the complete list of what was approved, after the jump is a release from the office of Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), who sponsored the Senate bill.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Pryor: Michael Teague, 501-324-6336
July 17, 2008 Lisa Ackerman, 202-224-2353

Pryor: Conferees Adopt Strong Product Safety Provisions
Senator Calls Resolutions on Lead, Disclosure, and Enforcement Significant

WASHINGTON D.C. - U.S. Senator Mark Pryor today said a Senate-House Conference Committee overcame several contentious provisions today on his product safety legislation. He said the members adopted agreements to ban lead in children's products, improve public disclosure of potentially harmful products through a database and clarify the product safety statutes enforceable by Attorneys General.

Pryor said the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Reform Act of 2008, H.R.4040, retains critical safeguards intended to prevent dangerous products from landing on store shelves. Among its provisions, the legislation will increase the resources and effectiveness of the CPSC, protect children from lead and unsafe products, enhance public access to product safety information, increase penalties on bad actors and enhance the effectiveness of the recall process.

"Today's resolutions are significant steps toward safety and disclosure. I'm hopeful conferees can show this same commitment in wrapping up the few remaining provisions," Pryor said. "Parents are counting on us to restore confidence in the marketplace and keep dangerous items out of our children's toy chests and our homes. I don't take this responsibility lightly, and I know my colleagues don't either."

Agreements adopted by the conference committee today include:

· Database: Within 2 years, the CPSC would establish a searchable database to include any reports of injuries, illness, death or risk related to consumer products submitted by consumers, local, State or national government agencies, child care providers, physicians, hospitals, coroners, first responders, and the media. Upon receiving a complaint, the CPSC has 5 days to submit the complaint to the manufacturer. The manufacturer then has 10 days to respond. The complaint and manufacturers response, if available, would then be posted on the database. The CPSC would have the authority to remove a complaint if it is found to be inaccurate.

· Lead: Bans lead for products manufactured for children age 12 or younger. Specifically, the permissible level of lead in children's products would be 600 ppm within 180 days, 300 ppm after one year, and 100 ppm after three years.

· Attorneys General: Provides authority for State Attorneys General to uniformly enforce consumer product safety laws and act expeditiously to remove dangerous products from shelves.
· Export of Recalled Products: Enables the CPSC to prohibit a U.S. entity from exporting a product that does comply with consumer product safety rules unless the importing country has previously notified the Commission of its permission.

· Import Safety: Requires the CPSC to develop a plan to identify shipments of consumer products intended for import into the U.S. Improves information sharing among federal agencies, including U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

· Destruction of Noncompliant Imports: Provides greater CPSC oversight to prevent the entry of unsafe consumer products in the U.S.

· Financial Responsibility: Allows CPSC to recommend to Customs and Border Protection a bond amount sufficient to cover the cost of destruction of such products and requires a study to determine the feasibility of requiring escrow for recalls and destruction of products.

· Public Disclosure: Modifies provisions concerning the public disclosure of information regarding a consumer product where disclosure will permit the public to readily identify the manufacturer or private labeler. Decreases waiting periods before the CPSC may disclose information and provides for expedited court actions to release information on products to the public.

· Inspector General: Tasks the Inspector General with conducting reviews and audits to assess the CPSC capital improvement efforts, barriers to oversight and compliance, and reports of waste, fraud, and abuse.

By Annys Shin |  July 21, 2008; 12:05 PM ET Annys Shin
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Please email us to report offensive comments.

1) What is the current regulations on imports containing lead?
2) Does the proposed lead ban only pertain to childrens' products?

Posted by: Tom Stolzenburg | July 28, 2008 2:27 PM

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