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President Signs Landmark Consumer Product Safety Act

Bill Provides Important New Protections for Children and Consumers
For Immediate Release

The Arizona Public Interest Research Group (Arizona PIRG) today lauded the enactment of the landmark Consumer Product Safety Modernization Act of 2008 which provides the toughest lead standards in the world for children’s products. The Act also strengthens the oversight of toys and children’s products by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) – oversight which had withered on the vine in recent years.

“Today, America’s littlest consumers scored a huge victory,” stated Diane E. Brown, Executive Director of Arizona PIRG.  “The Product Safety Modernization Act contains some of the strongest product safety reforms in recent history which will safeguard the health of children in Arizona and across the country.”

Last year, the Arizona PIRG Education Fund’s annual toy safety survey alerted shoppers to hidden toy hazards.  The report stated that while progress had been made over the last two decades, researchers still found lead-laden and dangerous toys on store shelves. Also in 2007, the CPSC recalled millions of popular toys, including Barbie and Polly Pockets, for poorly designed magnets that fell out. Other toy hazards reported in the Arizona PIRG Education Fund annual survey included toys containing phthalates and other toxic chemicals, excessively loud toys, and strangulation hazards.  Consumer groups also dubbed 2007 the “Year of the Recall.”

This year, dangerous toy and product recalls occurred at an even swifter rate.  Among these, the CPSC has recalled more than one million more magnet toys based on the 2007 Arizona PIRG Education Fund survey.  According to a report released by Arizona PIRG and partners in the product safety coalition in July, recalls have increased by 22% in 2008.

The bill is a historic step forward in product safety.  In addition to its massive increase in CPSC resources and funding, and its increase in civil penalty and recall authorities, the new law will:

  • Make industry's voluntary toy standard mandatory, which means that magnets and many other hazards will be subject to the new law's centerpiece third party testing requirement.
  • Ban six toxic phthalates in children's products. Three are banned permanently. Three would then be subject to a CPSC scientific review, but are banned until it is completed. If the ban is removed, states would regain authority to ban them.
  • Grant private-sector employees whistleblower protections, which means more hazards will be reported to the CPSC.
  • Require establishment of a public CPSC database of potential hazards.
  • Require that choking hazards be disclosed in Internet advertising.

In addition, the law’s new third party testing requirement does not include an additional new layer of preemption that the toy industry had demanded for months, which would have stifled state attorney general enforcement of a critical new untested product safety reform.

“Toxic chemicals like lead and phthalates have no business in our children’s toys,” said Brown. “Members of Congress who supported this legislation deserve tremendous credit for getting a strong bill over the finish line and signed into law."

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