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Consumer Reports: New study on home injuries during pandemic shows risks to children, urgent need for greater federal investment in consumer product safety

Calling current resource levels “woefully inadequate,” Consumer Product Safety Commission leadership calls for reinventing the agency and more than doubling its annual funding

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Consumer Reports today called for far greater funding for the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), as the agency released a new report analyzing hospital emergency room data from the first six months of the COVID-19 pandemic.


The report, covering March-September 2020, indicates that the pandemic has had a significant effect on product-related injuries among the American public. While overall ER-treated injuries were down by one-quarter and severe ER-treated injuries were flat compared to the same months in 2019, the CPSC estimates that certain product-related injuries were much more common, including those from children’s exposure to button batteries; poisonings from household cleaners; and the use of skateboards, scooters, and hoverboards at home.


“With more people—and especially children—spending extra time at home, it’s clearer now than ever that the country needs a better-resourced CPSC to help stop preventable injuries both during and after the pandemic,” said William Wallace, Consumer Reports’ manager of safety policy. “It’s long past time for the White House to request, and Congress to provide, the funding and staffing the CPSC needs to fully carry out its public health mission. This new report shows why the CPSC needs greater resources, both to help ensure the safety of products and to inform and educate people about what we can do to keep our homes safe.”

CPSC Acting Chairman Bob Adler announced in a speech last week that he has asked the Office of Management and Budget for an annual CPSC budget of approximately $280 million. This is more than twice the agency’s current budget of $135 million. Adler noted that the CPSC has authority over about 15,000 product categories—potentially the broadest jurisdiction of any federal health and safety regulatory agency—yet is by far the smallest such agency.


Adler has also sent a letter to Congress, based on consultation with CPSC career staff, which details the agency’s needs and outlines how both greater annual funding and a one-time allocation of $89 million would reinvent the agency and allow it to accomplish its vital work.


“The CPSC’s mission requires the agency to protect the public by identifying product hazards, getting defective products off the market, and communicating key safety messages—and this budget proposal lays out exactly what resources the agency needs to do this,” said Oriene Shin, policy counsel for product safety at Consumer Reports. “The CPSC has been chronically underfunded for decades. We commend CPSC leadership for canvassing the agency, putting this proposal to paper, and asking publicly for the resources the CPSC really needs. The White House and Congress should make sure it gets them.”


Under Adler’s budget proposal, the CPSC could expand its work in essential programs including compliance, hazard identification, and data collection. The resources under the proposal would also allow the agency to build off of its ambitious FY 2021 Operating Plan goals of developing strong new safety rules for products with unaddressed hazards, including infant sleep products, crib bumpers, dressers, table saws, window coverings, and high-powered magnet sets. 


Consumer Reports is supporting a provision in the pending federal COVID-19 relief package that would direct $50 million to advance the CPSC’s work related to marketplace and injury trends attributable to the pandemic. Safety advocates, including CR, have also repeatedly urged Congress to significantly increase the agency’s annual funding and staffing.


In light of the main findings from the CPSC study released today, Consumer Reports is highlighting several of the organization’s own resources to help people keep themselves and their families safe at home. Among other tips for how to childproof your home, CR advises parents and caregivers to keep cleaning products in their original bottles and to lock them up and away from younger children. When riding a bicycle, CR advises wearing a helmet and making sure to purchase a helmet that certifies compliance with CPSC safety standards. 




Contact: David Butler, david.butler@consumer.org


Note: With the continued impact of COVID-19 on health and the economy, Consumer Reports is working to give consumers the latest information and CR advice related to the pandemic. 


Consumer Reports is an independent, nonprofit membership organization that works side by side with consumers to create a fairer, safer, and healthier world. For 80 years, CR has provided evidence-based product testing and ratings, rigorous research, hard-hitting investigative journalism, public education, and steadfast policy action on behalf of consumers’ interests. Unconstrained by advertising or other commercial influences, CR has exposed landmark public health and safety issues and strives to be a catalyst for pro-consumer changes in the marketplace. From championing responsible auto safety standards, to winning food and water protections, to enhancing healthcare quality, to fighting back against predatory lenders in the financial markets, Consumer Reports has always been on the front lines, raising the voices of consumers.