CPSC Reform

Monday, August 4, 2008

Dear KID friends and supporters,

Last Sunday, the conferees on HR 4040 reached agreement and sent their conference report to Congress. Wednesday, the House voted 424 to 1 to pass the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act and on Thursday, the Senate joined them, passing it 89 to 3. It has been enrolled and the President now has 10 days to sign it.

An amazing coalition of consumer, public interest and scientific organizations worked tirelessly to provide information to congressional staff, review new sections and provide public support for the strongest consumer product safety legislation since the founding of CPSC in the early 70′s.

KID’s journey to this point, as you know, started ten years ago with the death of Danny Keysar in a recalled portable crib at his licensed child care facility in Chicago. Danny’s parents were shocked to learn that Danny was the fifth child to die in the Playskool Travel Lite and yet no one at the child care had known the crib was dangerous, not even the state inspector who had visited the home just 8 days prior to Danny’s death. They founded Kids In Danger to alert other parents to the hazards of recalled, unsafe products and to advocate for safer products.

Danny’s death highlights everything that is wrong with our product safety system: products aren’t tested for safety before they are sold; there are no mandatory safety standards for most products, numerous children can die or be injured by a product before CPSC takes action to remove it from store shelves, and too little is done to reach families who have dangerous recalled products.

Since 1998, Linda and Boaz and Kids In Danger, with your support, have worked to bring the problem to the public’s and policymakers’ attention; brainstormed solutions such as the Children’s Product Safety Act in the states and the Infant and Toddler Durable Product Safety Act in Congress; and participated in standard setting efforts to encourage the safest products possible under this broken system.

Then, last year, a groundbreaking, Pulitzer Prize winning series in the Chicago Tribune, coupled with an avalanche of toxic toy and collapsing crib recalls, focused attention on the issue and the need for reform became clear to everyone. Congress worked together to quickly pass two versions of a reform package and then painstakingly worked on a joint bill which takes the best of both and provides the most sweeping reform of product regulation in decades.

Key provisions of the legislation provide more more funding and greater authority to act for CPSC. One section, the Danny Keysar Child Product Safety Notification Act requires mandatory standards and testing for infant and toddler durable products, a ban on the sale or lease of unsafe cribs in commercial settings and provides for a product registration system to assure that families are notified when there is a recall. The crib portion of the section came originally from the work of Danny Lineweaver’s parents and the organization they founded, The Danny Foundation. Here are other examples of how this legislation changes and improves the safety of products sold in the United States:

  • Lead will be essentially eliminated from toys and children’s products.
  • Consumers will have access to a publicly-accessible database to report and learn about hazards posed by unsafe products.
  • Toys and other children’s products will be required to meet rigorous mandatory standards and be tested for safety before they are sold.
  • State Attorneys General will have the necessary authority to enforce product safety laws.
  • CPSC has the authority to levy more significant civil penalties against violators of its safety regulations, which will help deter wrongdoing.
  • Toxic phthalates will be been banned from children’s products.
  • Whistleblowers will be granted important protections.

With well-funded opposition from the likes of the US Chamber of Commerce and Exxon-Mobil, this legislation would have been impossible without dedicated members of Congress and their staff; the tireless efforts of the consumer, public interest and scientific organizations; and your support, both of KID and of the need for these strong changes.

There is of course more work to be done. Kids In Danger will continue to act as a watchdog of the process, to make sure implementation is timely and best protects children. We need your support in key ways:

  • Call on President Bush to sign this bill without delay.
  • Let us know if you buy or use a product you think is unsafe. We need to be vigilant now as the bill goes into effect.
  • Support KID with your time and financial support — give us the tools we need to keep children safe.

This bill, in many ways, is Danny Keysar’s legacy—a key portion of it is named in his honor. It is also the legacy of the countless children who have been killed or injured by unsafe children’s products and toys. You’ll see some of their pictures along the side of this page. You can click on their pictures to read their stories or visit Family Voices on our website to read about more children injured by dangerous products.

Thank you for your support in making this a reality and please continue to support KID in our lifesaving work.

Sincerely,

Nancy A. Cowles
Executive Director