When you purchase a toy for a child, it seems reasonable to assume someone is looking out to make sure these products are safe for kids. That someone is overseeing the manufacturing process to make sure that products won't cause injury or illness to children.
But right now, that kind of testing isn't required. Surprised? That's the scary reality that Kara Burkhart had to face after her then 4-year-old son, Colton, swallowed a medallion off a necklace from a common kids' vending machine at a local café. The medallion was 39 percent lead.
Colton underwent surgery to remove the medallion, and was later diagnosed with acute lead poisoning, He has endured agonizing treatment to help lower his blood lead levels, and even 8 years later still has elevated lead levels.
And all because of one toy from a vending machine.
There is a solution that could prevent another family from going through the Burkharts' struggle. After a wave of dangerous toys and children's products hit store shelves a few years ago, Congress passed the bipartisan Consumer Protection Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). The landmark legislation, signed into law by President Bush in 2008, was crafted to protect children and give parents assurances of safety by requiring that all products designed for children ages 12 and under be tested for safety before they go on sale.
Third-party testing would, among other things, check for lead or lead paint in the materials, identify hazards that could cause injuries or choking, and make sure that nursery products, including cribs and strollers, meet the strict standards required by the law.
Currently, this requirement for independent safety testing of toys is still waiting to be implemented. And some in the manufacturing community hope it stays this way.
But on Wednesday, October 19, the Consumer Product Safety Commission will be casting their final votes on this critical rule to begin testing. And we are urging them to vote YES.
Consumers cannot afford to wait any longer to be sure that the products they're buying for their children are safe. In fact, a February 2011 poll conducted by Consumer Reports found that around 8 in 10 consumers strongly agree that the federal government should require testing by manufacturers of children's products to ensure they do not contain any harmful substances.
Third-party testing is a common-sense, effective way to prevent unnecessary harm to our kids while preventing costly and disruptive product recalls. Recalls are simply not an adequate solution to this safety problem. The dangerous products are already on store shelves and, too often, these recalls occur after a child has been injured or killed.
Our children should no longer be used as guinea pigs when it comes to toy and product safety. No family should have to pay that high a price, like the Burkharts, because of an untested, unsafe product.
UPDATE: Good news! By a vote of 3 to 2, the Consumer Product Safety Commission voted in favor of implementing these critical third-party testing rules. These rules are slated to go in to effect next year. A big win for consumers, these rules will go a long way toward preventing unnecessary harm to our children, as well as avoiding costly recalls.