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Joint letter to House committee on markup of product safety bills

* Consumer Federation of America * Kids In Danger * Consumer Reports * Public Citizen *

We write to you to express our support for advancing six bills that will be marked up by the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday, July 17, 2019. Our organizations, Consumer Federation of America, Kids In Danger, Consumer Reports, and Public Citizen, have worked together on these bills and each piece of legislation helps address a significant product safety hazard.

We express our support for advancing six important product safety bills, with a strong recommendation for strengthening the sixth bill listed here:

1. The STURDY Act (H.R. 2211) would direct the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to create a mandatory clothing storage unit standard to help prevent tip-overs. According to the CPSC, one child dies every ten days from a tip-over. This bill is critically important because it would establish a strong mandatory standard for furniture stability. The STURDY Act would require the CPSC to create a mandatory rule that would: cover all clothing storage units, even those 30 inches in height or shorter; require testing to simulate the weights of children up to 72 months old; require testing measures to account for scenarios involving carpeting, loaded drawers, multiple open drawers, or the dynamic force of a climbing child; mandate strong warning requirements; and require the CPSC to issue the mandatory standard within one year of enactment.

2. The Safe Sleep for Babies Act of 2019 (H.R. 3172) would ban infant inclined sleep products, such as the recently recalled Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play Sleeper and similar Kids II rocking sleepers, which have been linked to the deaths of at least 50 infants. While there have been three recent recalls related to this product type, unsafe products in the infant inclined sleeper category can still be manufactured, and this bill would prevent more of them from coming onto the market. Our groups have long been sounding the alarm on the dangers of infant inclined sleep products, and have been urging retailers to remove them from sale. These products are deadly, and their design is inherently unsafe. This legislation would help prevent more families from experiencing the tragedy of losing a child by banning the products’ manufacture, import, and sale.

3. The Safe Cribs Act of 2019 (H.R. 3170) would ban crib bumper pads. Bumper pads have led to dozens of infant deaths from asphyxia, and do not offer protection to babies. A number of cities and states have taken action to protect babies, and if this bill becomes law, all babies in the Unites States would be similarly protected. For almost a decade, our organizations have warned parents against using crib bumper pads and supported state and local actions to ban their sale. This legislation would help prevent more families from experiencing the tragedy of losing a child to crib bumper pads by banning their manufacture, import, and sale altogether.

4. The Nicholas and Zachary Burt Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act of 2019 (H.R. 1618) would establish a grant program, administered by the CPSC, that would encourage states to require the installation of residential carbon monoxide detectors, including for vulnerable populations. According to the CDC, during 2010–2015, a total of 2,244 deaths resulted from unintentional carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, with 393 of those deaths occurring in 2015.

5. The Portable Fuel Container Safety Act of 2019 (H.R. 806), would help prevent flame-jetting incidents through establishing a binding and enforceable standard that would require flame mitigation devices, or flame arrestors, on portable fuel containers to prevent flames from entering these containers and igniting the gases inside. According to National Fire Protection Association estimates, fire departments responded to an average of 160,910 fires per year between 2007 and 2011 that started with ignition of a flammable or combustible liquid, resulting in an estimated 454 civilian deaths, 3,910 civilian injuries, and $1.5 billion in direct property damage per year.

6. The Safer Occupancy Furniture Flammability Act, or SOFFA (H.R. 2647), would adopt a California flammability standard as a federal flammability standard to help protect against the risk of upholstered furniture fires and consumer exposure to flame retardant chemicals. Today’s California standard, TB 117-2013, is currently the strongest measure U.S. consumers have to keep them protected from purchasing upholstered furniture that is either highly flammable or loaded with flame-retardant chemicals. While this bill seeks to protect consumers from both fires and flame retardant exposure, we urge members to strengthen the bill through amending it so that other states retain the ability to exceed TB 117-2013’s level of protection if they so choose.

As a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, you have the opportunity, this week, to substantially improve safety in the marketplace by helping to protect infants, children, and consumers from dangerous products. We urge your support for advancing these six bills.

For the full letter, click here.