CPSC Lacks Necessary Tools (Rep. Darlene Hooley)
Like any mother, I was disturbed by Tuesday’s news that Mattel, the world’s largest toy manufacturer, is recalling Chinese-made products for the second time in two weeks over concerns that children will be harmed when they swallow magnets attached to the toys. What’s even more disturbing is that this development comes months after the Chicago Tribune exposed the hazard when a 20-month old child died as a result of the small magnets from a similar toy sticking together in his stomach.
Thankfully, no injuries have been reported from the toys recalled yesterday, yet I remain concerned as to why it has taken more than three months from the time of this news report to announce the recall. I’m also troubled that the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) lacks the resources to proactively test products flooding the American marketplace from all over the world.
Ensuring child safety is how I first got involved in politics. My then-young son fell off a swing at a park on to the cement below. In order to save a little money and time on upkeep, a hard surface was placed below the swings instead of softer bark dust or mulch. When light was shone on the problem and I pressed for results, the playground surface in my town was ultimately changed.
But at the national level, we have many items to be reviewed for safety concerns and precious few resources to do it. The CPSC is charged with an enormous task in protecting the public, including keeping children from being exposed to unreasonable risks associated with consumer products. Right now, the Commission is trying to fulfill its mission with 400 employees, down from 1,000 in 1981. Clearly, this is insufficient.
Congress should give the CPSC the tools necessary to ensure that the goods and products on our shelves are safe for all consumers, including those from countries whose standards and rules for safety do not meet our own. As a member of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection, I look forward to working with the Chairman and my colleagues as we reconvene this Fall.