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Groups urge final passage of product safety bill

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Consumer Groups Urge Final Passage of Product Safety Bill This Week;
Urge President to avoid veto of critical reforms

Washington, D.C.—Today, consumer, public interest and scientific groups are calling on the House and Senate to finalize legislation that would reform the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), require toys and infant products to be tested before they are sold, ban lead and phthalates in children’s toys, and provide other critical safety improvements. Responding to new press reports that President Bush remains undecided on whether he will veto the measure, the groups implored the President to come down on the side of safety and approve a measure that represents the most significant changes to shore up the nation’s product safety net in nearly two decades. The House is expected to vote on the measure Wednesday.
“After a record number of product recalls in 2007, consumers should have real concerns about the safety of the toys they buy. Congress needs to pass this landmark product safety legislation before the August recess. Importantly, the President needs to stop listening to industry spin and embrace this vital bill that will make our toys and products safer,” said Ami Gadhia of Consumers Union.
“For far too long the Consumer Product Safety Commission has been starved of the resources, authority and the transparency it needs to ensure the safety of consumer products. Consumers have waited long enough. It is time to finish the job,” said Rachel Weintraub of Consumer Federation of America.
“This is legislation members of Congress can be proud of as they return to their home districts over the August break,” said American Academy of Pediatrics President Renée R. Jenkins, MD, FAAP, urging Congress to vote quickly. “It will protect millions of children from hidden hazards in their favorite toys and products, and give parents the reassurance they need to protect their families from danger.”
“Families have waited long enough for these crucial reforms,” stated Nancy Cowles, executive director of Kids In Danger. “Toys, cribs, and other children’s products continue to be recalled at an alarming rate for flaws that would be prevented or uncovered through the standards and testing required in this Act. We urge Congress and the President to move swiftly and get this bill enacted.”
“Congress is on the brink of passing reforms that are critical to protecting consumers, and especially children, from unsafe products,” said David Arkush, Director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. “Let’s hope they get the job done this week.”
“Congress is about to sign-off on the most comprehensive product safety legislation in decades,” said Dr. Diana Zuckerman, President of the National Research Center for Women & Families. “We strongly urge President Bush to immediately sign this bill. Our children are one signature away from safer toys and products.”
“The conferees gave America’s littlest consumers a big bi-partisan victory over the toy manufacturers and Exxon Mobil,” said Ed Mierzwinski, Consumer Program Director of U.S. PIRG. “Now it is up to the full House and Senate to come to a similar bi-partisan agreement to finish the bill.”
“Scientists working on consumer product safety will benefit from this new legislation,” said Dr. Francesca T. Grifo, director, Scientific Integrity Program, Union of Concerned Scientists. “A stronger Inspector General and a website for CPSC employees to anonymously report their concerns, along with whistleblower protections for those who report about unsafe products, will contribute to more transparency and accountability at this agency,” added Grifo.
The House and Senate conferees on the product safety measure concluded action this weekend. The conference report on the legislation must now be approved by both chambers and sent to the President for his signature. Some of the key safety provisions included in the final package are:
• Lead is essentially eliminated from toys and children’s products.
• CPSC is required to establish a publicly-accessible database to help consumers report and learn about hazards posed by unsafe products.
• Toys and other children’s products will be required to be tested for safety before they are sold.
• State Attorneys General will have the necessary authority to enforce product safety laws.
• The civil penalties CPSC can levy against violators of its safety regulations have been increased, which will help deter wrongdoing.
• Toxic phthalates have been banned from children’s products.
• Whistleblowers have been granted important protections.
• CPSC will receive substantial increases in its resources – including its staffing levels, its laboratory and computer resources and its various authorities to conduct recalls and take other actions – going forward.

Ami Gadhia, CU (202) 462-6262
Rachel Weintraub, CFA (202) 387-6121
Ed Mierzwinski, U.S. PIRG (202) 546-9707
David Arkush, PC (202) 550-0107
Macon Morehouse, AAP (202) 724-3303
Celia Wexler, UCS (202) 331-6952
Nancy Cowles, KID (312) 218-5593
Paul Brown, NRCWF (202) 223-4000 x103