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Consumers Union statement on the CPSC Reform Act

March 3, 2008

Statement of Ami Gadhia, Policy Counsel, Consumers Union on S. 2663, The CPSC Reform Act

Consumers Union, non-profit publisher of Consumer Reports magazine, would like to thank Senator Pryor, Assistant Majority Leader Durbin, Senator Stevens, Senator Collins, Senator Inouye, and all of the other Senators who have taken a leadership role with this very important product safety legislation. After 2007 became the Year of the Recall, consumers’ confidence in our product safety system was dashed. S. 2663, the CPSC Reform Act, is a bi-partisan bill that will help to make our products safer, close the gaping holes in our product safety net, and restore consumers’ confidence in the products they bring into their homes every day.
This legislation creates a number of significant consumer protections, but there are three that bear particular mention. First, S. 2663 creates a consumer database of product hazard information. Product hazard information should not be kept secret, and S. 2663 creates this database of consumer and third party complaints about the products that the CPSC regulates. A similar database is already available to consumers about cars and car components, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Consumers will benefit from a new database where they can learn more information about unsafe products, and thus make informed purchasing decisions.
Second, this legislation addresses the issue of lead. Some of the biggest recalls last year involved toys containing dangerous lead amounts. S. 2663 will address a gaping loophole in current law by creating uniform limits on the levels of lead permissible in children’s products and in paint. By lowering lead levels in children’s products, this bill will help address the serious health and cognitive problems associated with long-term and repeated exposure to dangerous lead.
Third, the CPSC Reform Act also establishes meaningful civil penalties that will deter wrongdoing. S. 2663 improves the current limit on civil penalties by raising it to $10 million for most violations and by raising it to $20 million if there are “aggravating circumstances.” This increase will keep bad actors from treating violations of law as “just another cost of doing business.”
Once again, Consumers Union thanks the Senators for their leadership on this critical issue, and urges the entire Senate to resist weakening amendments and to approve S. 2663 quickly so that it can be sent to the President for his signature. Consumers all over the country are looking forward to having faith again in the products they buy for their families every day.
Jennifer Fuson