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US Senate passes consumer safety bill for child items

[JURIST] The US Senate passed a bill [HR 4040 text, PDF; Senate amendments, PDF] late on Thursday designed to increase the safety of children's products by mandating new safety rules and restricting the kinds of materials which may be used. The legislation establishes a maximum level of lead, bans certain plastics, requires independent product testing and labeling, and strengthens the authority of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) [official website]. The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 89-3, after having passed in the House of Representatives by a vote of 424-1 [roll calls] on Wednesday. The bill notes:

The Commission shall — (A) in consultation with representatives of consumer groups, juvenile product manufacturers, and independent child product engineers and experts, examine and assess the effectiveness of any voluntary consumer product safety standards for durable infant or toddler product; and (B) in accordance with section 553 of title 5, United States Code, promulgate consumer product safety rules that — (i) are substantially the same as such voluntary standards; or (ii) are more stringent than such voluntary standards, if the Commission determines that more stringent standards would further reduce the risk of injury associated with such products.
The bill covers products designed for children 12 years old and younger, and also places restrictions on certain Internet and magazine sales. CPSC Acting Chairman Nancy Nord applauded the bill's passage [press release], saying that while the agency will need increased funding, it will make sure that "all the provisions in the legislation are implemented fully, fairly and in the way that best serves consumers." President George W. Bush has said that he will approve the bill [press statement]. The Washington Post has more. AP has additional coverage.

In October 2007, a public Michigan pension fund filed a derivative action [press release; JURIST report] alleging misconduct by Mattel [corporate website] for failing to report toy defects to federal regulators. Mattel had recalled about 21 million toys between August and October of that year because they contained illegal lead paint or magnets that could become detached and cause injuries to children. Since announcing the recalls, Mattel has also been sued in several class action and personal injury lawsuits filed by consumers alleging harm to children who came in contact with the recalled toys and requesting that Mattel pay for testing of the children.

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