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Congress Reauthorizes Consumer Product Safety Commission

On July 30, the House approved, 424-1, the conference report for the Consumer Product Safety Commission Reform Act (H.R. 4040), a bill to reauthorize the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). On July 31, the Senate approved the conference report, 89-3. The House approved H.R. 4040 on December 19; the Senate approved the measure on March 16.

The legislation would authorize $118.2 million in FY2009 and 2010, $115.64 million for FY2011, $123.994 million for FY2012, $131.783 million for FY2013, and $136.409 million for FY2014 for the activities at CPSC, which include creating and enforcing product safety rules and issuing product recalls for products deemed unsafe.

The bill would require the CPSC to lower the allowable levels of lead in children’s products to the lowest technically feasible level, 600 parts per million, within 180 days of the bill’s enactment. The CPSC also would be required to direct manufacturers in how to comply with the new lead requirement.

The measure would permanently ban the sale of children’s toys or child care articles that contain a concentration of more than 0.1 percent of three types of phthalates, a chemical used to soften plastic and make it more durable. Some studies link phthalates to reproductive health problems. The bill would temporarily ban the sale of children’s products containing more than 0.1 percent concentration of other types of phthalates until the CPSC issues a final rule regarding the chemical’s use.

The bill would establish a Chronic Hazard Advisory Panel, which would have 18 months to examine the “potential health effects (include endocrine disrupting effects) of the full range of phthalates” and “examine the likely levels of children’s, pregnant women’s, and others’ exposure to phthalates, based on a reasonable estimation of normal and foreseeable use and abuse of such products.” The study must also “consider the level at which there is a reasonable certainty of no harm to children, pregnant women, or other susceptible individuals and their offspring, considering the best available science, and using sufficient safety factors to account for uncertainties regarding exposure and susceptibility of children, pregnant women, and other potentially susceptible individuals.” The bill would require the CPSC to issue a final rule to determine, based upon the panel’s report, whether to continue the temporary ban and to declare any children’s product containing phthalates a “banned hazardous product.”

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