These concerned parents and advocacy groups held a rally at Upper Senate Park Thursday to urge Congress to ensure that children's toys and products are safer.
In December the House of Representatives passed legislation to reform the CPSC,and in March the Senate passed a different reform proposal. The two bills are now in a conference committee to iron out differences.
Parents pushed for the conferees to chose the toughest provisions from the two bills for the final version,which must be approved by the House and Senate before it can go to the president.
The consumer groups want Congress to adopt the House provision setting age 12 as the definition of a children's product instead of the Senate's proposal of age 7.
They also want Congress to provide a public database to improve disclosure of product safety information,mandatory testing of toys and products and a provision to allow state attorneys general to help enforce these provisions.
“We are on a countdown towards a final bill,” said Rep. Chris Van Hollen,D-Md. “We want to make sure that the final bill is the best for our consumers and children across the country.”
Linda Ginzel,of Chicago,co-founder of Kids in Danger,said that 10 years ago this week her 16-month-old son,Danny,was strangled at his child care facility when a portable crib collapsed and trapped his neck.
Danny's death was the 12th incident in which a child died in a crib with the same faulty design. The 17th incident occurred as recently as August 2007,15 years after the hazard became known to manufacturers.
“That was 10 years ago,” she said. “Still,today it continues to shock parents across the country through last year's epidemic of lead-laced toys and deadly cribs that there is no requirement that children's products be tested for safety before they are sold.”
After Danny's death,Ginzel,along with her husband and son – who was 5 when his brother died – created Kids in Danger. The nonprofit organization strives to protect children by improving children's product safety.
“Phthalates found in products like teething toys can cause problems in children,especially young boys,” said Paul Brown,a representative from the National Research Center for Women and Family. “Their testicles do not drop completely,they have smaller genitals and a higher risk of testicular cancer.”
Ami Gadhia,a policy counsel with Consumers Union,wants magnets to be banned from toys.
“Many toys contain very strong and rare earth magnets,and if kids swallow more than one it can tear their intestinal wall,” she said.
Rachel Weintraub,director of product safety and senior counsel for the Consumer Federation of America,said that the groups would like Congress to take its time and make sure it is not shortchanging the strongest provisions of the bill.
Joe Brenckle,communications director for the Senate Commerce Committee,said the Senate hopes to finish the CPSC bill by the Memorial Day recess.
Many parents,like Ginzel,have been fighting for years to get strong safety regulations on children's toys and products. She said she hopes that these last 10 years were worth the fight and that Congress will negotiate the most consumer-protective product safety bill possible.
“We lost our beautiful son to a broken children's product safety system,” she said. “We need Congress to keep that from happening again and to ensure that children are put first.”