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Congress recently announced a mandate for more stringent federal safety requirements for toys. The consumer-friendly legislation was signed by the President. These new standards include a strict “standard for lead; create a searchable database of product complaints filed with the government for consumers to access; require manufacturers to make it easier for consumers to learn about recalled products; increase fines and other penalties for safety violations; and beef up the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission and its budget.” One of the more controversial measures is the specific provision to prohibit all Phthalates, which are used in a wide range of plastics.

In a recent era of widely publicized dangers to the safety of children in toys, cribs, car seats, and other products, Illinois Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky praised this new development as “the birth of a new agency that will have much broader authority particularly to keep our children safe.” A ban such as this is a rare action by Congress, and reflects growing research showing that children are exposed to dangerous chemicals, commonly found in the packaging, surfaces, or contents of many products, by simple acts such as “chewing on a rubber duck.”

According to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, “it should be a given that toys are not dangerous.” With this new measure, Congress is making a proactive and important effort to keep children safe from unreasonable and dangerous exposure to harmful chemicals and substances, as well as making sure products are mechanically safe.

For more information about consumer safety and children, see the Pulitzer Prize winning investigative reports that inspired Congress’ action, “Kids at Risk” by the Chicago Tribune. There are also valuable resources on Injury Board.

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