Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Safety Assurance for Every Consumer (SAFE)

Check out my granddaughter dressed in her Halloween costume. Doesn't she make an adorable banana?! Grace is obviously too young to go trick or treating tonight, but her safety - and the safety of all our children - always concerns me. Last week, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recalled imported Halloween pails children might use for trick or treating because they contained high amounts of lead, and I'm sure you've heard about the more than 13 million toys that have been recalled over the last 2 months after tests indicated lead levels that sometimes reached almost 200 times the safety limit.

Unfortunately, the Bush administration is standing behind Nancy A. Nord, the acting chairwoman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, who has asked Congress in recent days to reject legislation intended to strengthen the agency, which polices thousands of consumer goods, from toys to tools. From the NY Times:
On the eve of an important Senate committee meeting to consider the legislation, Nancy A. Nord, the acting chairwoman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, has asked lawmakers in two letters not to approve the bulk of legislation that would increase the agency’s authority, double its budget and sharply increase its dwindling staff.
Only 15 inspectors are assigned to police all imports of consumer products under the CPSC's supervision, a marketplace that last year was valued at $614 billion, and there's only one full-time employee available to test toys. In fact, the CPSC only has half the staff it did in the 1980's. They definitely need more funding and personnel.

The Bush administration may be failing our children, but other people and organizations are stepping in to help. From the AFL-CIO blog:
Last month, the United Steelworkers (USW) launched a major campaign, “Protect Our Kids—Stop Toxic Imports,” in which the union will distribute thousands of Get the Lead Out Screening kits and spearhead a series of “Safe Home Sessions,” so families can learn more about protecting themselves and their loved ones.

Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) have introduced the Safety Assurance for Every (SAFE) Consumer Product Act, which would require children’s products to undergo independent testing and strengthen the CPSC’s enforcement authority. The bill has quickly attracted more than 100 co-sponsors. Click here to urge your lawmaker to become a co-sponsor.
To learn more about lead and product safety, check out the new report from the Institute for America's Future, Toxic Trade: Globalization and the Safety of the American Consumer. The report shows how free trade combined with little or no regulation here at home have combined to make the products we buy toxic and unsafe.

UPDATE: Another late-breaking recall: Halloween costume teeth pulled from US shops due to lead fears

"Ugly Teeth" were found to have 100 times the US standard on lead in paint. "Lead paint is a problem when it's ingested by a child, so to have lead on an item that is designed to go into the mouth -- that's what's particularly horrifying about these teeth," said Dr Jeffrey Weidenhamer of Ashland University in Ohio. Millions of kids have already had costume parties in schools, recreation centers, etc., and how many parents will never hear about this recall before sending their kids out tonight? Unbelievable.


abi said...

In the Democratic debate last night, Joe Biden said he would ban the importation of all toys from China. That would sure get their attention, wouldn't it?

Looks like Grace likes being a banana. Damn she's cute. ;-)

Kathy said...

Abi, you listened to the debate? You're good! I can't get interested this early in the election season. I'm already feeling burned out by the yapping. I like Biden's suggestion though. If we can spend gazillions of dollars to keep us safe from terrorism, why can't we spend a few billion to protect our kids? It should be a no-brainer.

Thanks for the compliment about Grace. We get to babysit for her this weekend while her parents attend a wedding out of the area. Our timing is perfect. She's finally sleeping through the night a decent amount of time!

Kacy said...

She adorable!! To bad I'm sick and can't watch her tomorrow..but I do expect a weekend update!!

Kathy said...

Kacy, hope you feel better. We enjoyed babysitting Grace this weekend. She's an angel! She takes after my side of the family. ;-)