Consumer Product Safety Commission Must Use New Tools to Keep Dangerous Products Off the Market, Public Citizen Says

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Angela Bradbery
abradbery@citizen.org
202-588-7741

Consumer Product Safety Commission Must Use New Tools to Keep Dangerous Products Off the Market, Public Citizen Says

WASHINGTON - Public Citizen today advised the U.S. Consumer Product Safety
Commission (CPSC) on several steps to take to better protect the public.
They include committing to a rigorous review of the public online
incident database during the first year after it launches; removing
roadblocks to the enforcement of testing and certification requirements
for consumer products; and publicizing performance benchmarks in pursuit
of its goal to increase the speed in which it notifies the public about
dangerous products.

"The CPSC is at a crucial point in implementing the mandates that
Congress set out in the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of
2008," said Christine Hines, Public Citizen's consumer and civil justice
counsel, who testified at the public hearing to discuss the CPSC agenda
and priorities for fiscal year 2012. "We will continue to urge the
commission to make decisions in favor of protecting consumers and not
industry."

The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, signed into law in 2008
and strongly supported by Public Citizen, added safety and testing
requirements for consumer products, particularly with children's
products; called for the gradual elimination of lead from products;
banned phthalates in toys and children's articles; and called for the
creation of a comprehensive publicly accessible consumer complaint
database, among other things. The CPSC is in the process of implementing
the law.

The online incident database, expected to launch in March 2011, will
mark a significant shift in favor of empowering consumers to more
efficiently report potential hazards and better research products before
they buy, Hines said. The first year that the database is in operation
will be critical. The agency likely will need to fix glitches and make
it easier for consumers to use. Public Citizen urges the CPSC to be
vigilant about including new product safety information and updating the
database in a timely manner, she said.

Public Citizen also suggested that the agency support legislation
that would require foreign manufacturers importing goods into the U.S.
to maintain registered agents in the U.S. to receive notice of civil and
regulatory claims initiated against them. Requiring a registered agent
would empower the CPSC and consumers to hold foreign manufacturers
accountable, especially given that the majority of potentially harmful
consumer products are imported, Hines said.

Hines' testimony is available at http://www.citizen.org/documents/PC-oral-presentation-CPSC-agenda-and-priorities-for-hearing-final-20100810.pdf.

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Public Citizen is a national, nonprofit consumer advocacy organization founded in 1971 to represent consumer interests in Congress, the executive branch and the courts.

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