It is not often that individuals or businesses have the gall to ask our government to rollback or repeal legislation that cut children’s deaths in half. But that is exactly what is currently going on in Congress, as legislators consider requests from toymakers and retailers to undo key legislation regarding lead and other toxic substances in children’s products.
The requirements at issue are a part of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008. In 2008, prior to the enactment of the CPSIA, there were 172 recalls of children’s products due to the presence of lead and other toxic substances. That same year, there were 24 related children’s deaths. Then came the CPSIA. In 2009, under the new law, the number of recalls was cut by two-thirds, to 50, and the number of deaths was cut in half: only 12 children died. Our Chicago child injury attorneys believe that the death of even one infant or child is too many. But it is hard to argue with reforms that get such stunning results.
At least, we thought it was.
However, in the cold light of 2010, the effort has been launched to undo this important reform. Why? Because the law’s requirements are supposedly too hard on business. Indeed, those who advocate rolling back or repealing the CPSIA argue that if these child-safety measures are allowed to continue, small businesses will shut down.
So just what are the onerous requirements of the CPSIA? Simply this: The law establishes the ceiling on permissible amounts of lead in children’s products. Every product marketed to children under 12 years of age must be tested to ensure that it does not contain lead above that level. That test must be documented. This includes all products marketed to this age range: clothes, toys, sports gear, even children’s furniture.
These requirements seem eminently reasonable to the injury and wrongful death lawyers of Passen & Powell. Even if they were marginally burdensome, that burden would surely be justified to ensure the safety of our children.
Yet even this is too much for the business community. Even now, lobbying is underway to exempt huge categories of products – everything from bikes, to all sporting goods, to anything handmade – from CPSIA compliance. Although various rationales are given, the fact remains: anything a child regularly plays with or is in contact with can be a danger if lead levels are too high, regardless of how it was made, where it comes from, or what type of product it is. Our Chicago product liability attorneys vehemently oppose these efforts to weaken the protection that the CPSIA affords our children.
Unfortunately, even with the current CPSIA, children still are not safe from lead-tainted toys and products. That’s why we at Passen & Powell support those who are striving not to weaken the CPSIA, but to enhance it. Courageous legislators such as Senator Mark Pryor, (D)Arkansas, are leading the efforts to set even stricter ceilings for the amount of lead permitted in children’s products. Moreover, Senator Pryor and his colleagues want to strengthen the force of the law by requiring that third parties perform the lead testing and documentation, rather than allowing this task to be completed by the manufacturers and retailers themselves.
Although this measure is opposed by lobbyists and others representing the toy industry, the lives it could save are reason enough to support it. Until the number of children’s deaths is reduced to zero, we simply must take every measure possible to force those who peddle goods to our children to actually ensure that those goods are safe. This includes strengthening the CPSIA, and enforcing it through regulatory action and through lawsuits against those businesses who do not comply. Only then will we see action by the manufacturers to truly make our children’s products safe.
If a child you love has been diagnosed with lead poisoning, we urge you to investigate and determine which products were responsible for the harm she has suffered. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you with that investigation, and assist you in determining if you might have a claim against the manufacturers and retailers of the product that hurt your child.
For a free consultation with an experienced Chicago injury lawyer at Passen & Powell, call us at (312) 527-4500.