Safer toys for our children.

By Congresswoman Darlene Hooley. Hooley represents Oregon's Fifth Congressional District.

Who could forget the number of toy and product recalls that headlined the news during the last holiday season? Many parents had to take away a child’s favorite toy or remove hoped-for items from their holiday shopping lists. Our children’s safety was being jeopardized as corners were cut by Chinese manufacturers and other importers, and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) seemed both unwilling and unable to do its job.

Despite heel-dragging by the Bush Administration’s CPSC Chairman Nancy Nord, Congress acted swiftly to send landmark consumer protection legislation – the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 -- to the President, which he signed into law yesterday. As a result, the CPSC will now have the resources, authority, and oversight it needs to protect children from lead, dangerous toys, and other unsafe products.

The new law includes a personal victory for me as I retire from Congress at the beginning of 2009. I got my start in public service a few decades ago advocating for softer surfaces like bark dust under playground equipment after my son took a nasty tumble from the swings onto the concrete below, and I’ve been advocating for common-sense approaches to product safety ever since.

Recently, Senator Diane Feinstein and I teamed up to ban a number of dangerous chemicals, known as phthalates, from children’s toys and child care related products. Phthalates are chemicals added to common plastic products to make them soft and pliable. They are found in a variety of children’s toys and childcare products that children frequently put in their mouth, such as teethers, rubber ducks, and soft books. Phthalates interfere with the functioning of the hormone system, and have been linked to certain defects in reproductive organs. Young children are particularly vulnerable. But as a result of our efforts, manufacturers will have to use safer alternatives in children’s products.

This new law will help strengthen our ability to keep unsafe toys off American shelves in the first place, respond quickly when problems are found, and enforce violations of product safety laws. American parents want to know that the toys and other products they buy for their children are safe, and this law will help do just that.

  • You failed (unverified)

    [Off-topic comment removed. -editor.]

  • Terry K. (unverified)

    How to make our kids toys safe is very simple, start making them in AMERICA for DAMN sakes!!! bring American's jobs back home!

  • Lani (unverified)

    This legislation is a joke. This is far too little too late. It still leaves gaping holes in our food and drug safety.

    --Why can Customs can seize illegal drugs or products infringing on copyright but not dangerous food or toys?

    In July of 2006 diethylene glycol was mislabeled as "substitute glycerin" and over 200 people died in Panama and the Dominican Republic when it was used to make cough syrup and other products.

    Explain to me why this Chinese company is still selling this poison as glycerin and poisoning our toothpaste and other products?

    How many people need to die before Congress acts beyond pathetic measures like this one?

    Every member of Congress should be ashamed that you've allowed our children, our pets, our elderly, and others to die, be maimed, and injured in the name of corporate greed and government incompetence.

    The FDA hasn't had a budget increase since 1988 and over 1/3 of their inspectors have been cut.

    Congress created this problem with their lax oversight and they're overdue in fixing it. Now we've had another 40,000 sicken and others die because of a Salmonella outbreak.

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