U.S. House Republicans are continuing in their efforts to water down safety regulations in place to protect children. These details are from an article by Bloomberg News:
A House subcommittee approved a proposal to roll back the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s authority on issues including lead testing for toys, baby-crib replacements and consumer complaints.
Child-care facilities would get more time to replace out- of-date cribs, a stronger lead-content limit would be delayed and businesses would get relief in product testing in proposed changes to a 2008 consumer-protection law crafted by Representative Mary Bono Mack, a California Republican and chairman of the Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade Subcommittee. The legislation would also restrict who may post to a CPSC website that tracks complaints about consumer products.
“We need to make some common-sense, sensible changes to the CPSC,” Representative Joe Barton, a Texas Republican and former chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, said today. “We were in the process of creating a regulatory and compliance nightmare.”
The 2008 law passed to protect children created unintended consequences in the types of products covered, like all-terrain vehicles and brass musical instruments, adding costs for businesses to prevent problems with little real-world risk, some Republicans have said.
Chemicals in Toys
The proposal would ensure limits on the chemicals that soften plastics in toys would apply only to the parts of a product that a child can touch.
A child would have to ingest 7,000 rubber-duck bath toys in order to get a toxic level of plastic-softening phthalates in his blood, Barton said.
The 2008 law provided that, by Aug. 14, 2011, all children’s products would be subject to lead-content limits of 100 parts per million, down from 300 parts per million today. The bill delays that step until August 2012 and narrows the range to apply only to goods aimed at children ages 6 and under that can be placed in a child’s mouth.
Some Democrats said the proposal approved today goes too far, weakening lead limits and testing requirements that were at the heart of legislation passed with large bipartisan majorities in both chambers of Congress three years ago after a scare about lead in toys imported from China, such as Barbie accessories made by Mattel Inc. (MAT)
Children in day-care centers “should not be placed in cribs that don’t meet up-to-date and rigorous safety standards,” said Representative G.K. Butterfield, a North Carolina Democrat. “Lead-content limits should not be stretched to benefit industry to the detriment of our children. A toy box shouldn’t be a game of roulette.”
The CPSC’s website tracking consumer complaints was authorized by the 2008 law to make the public aware of potential safety issues more quickly. The site’s implementation has been criticized by business groups including the Washington-based National Association of Manufacturers.
The proposal approved by the subcommittee today would limit the agency to posting items at the site from people who are injured, members of their families or people authorized by them. The agency would have to do more to verify the claims.