U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is "charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of serious injury or death from more than 15,000 types of consumer products under the agency's jurisdiction." [1]

Traveling With The Chairman

After "several highly publicized recalls of Chinese-made toys that contained hazardous levels of lead," the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) came under increased scrutiny. "Critics have long charged that the agency has become too close to regulated industries, opting for 'voluntary' standards and repeatedly choosing not to take legal action against businesses that refuse to recall dangerous products." Perhaps it's because CPSC officials were traveling on industry's dime. Records obtained by the Washington Post "document nearly 30 trips since 2002 by the agency's acting chairman, Nancy Nord, and the previous chairman, Hal Stratton, that were paid for in full or in part by trade associations or manufacturers. ... Some of the trips were sponsored by lobbying groups and lawyers representing the makers of products linked to consumer hazards." CPSC said their ethics officers had OK'd the trips, after conducting "a full conflict-of-interest analysis." But several other agencies, including the Federal Communications Commission, Securities and Exchange Commission and Food and Drug Administration, ban travel paid for by regulated companies.[2]

Lead Lunch Boxes

Kids' vinyl lunch boxes often contain dangerous levels of lead, but government regulators have released to the public only the test results most favorable to industry, according to documents the Associated Press obtained under a Freedom of Information Act request. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CSPC) found that 20 percent of boxes tested in 2005 contained unsafe amounts of lead--several more than 10 times the safety level. Instead of reporting the findings, the agency used different tests--for example, measuring swabs instead of patches of the material--and then reported the numbers as safe. Lead is used as a binder in some vinyl products, especially those made in China. A spokesman for the Vinyl Institute said, "... [B]asically, we haven't seen any indication of actual harm from the lunch boxes."

Cigarette-caused fires

Cigarette paper is impregnated with chemicals such as sodium citrate and potassium citrate that keep the cigarette from burning out when left unattended. In March 1985, the CPSC issued a memo assessing and quantifying the damage caused by cigarette-ignited residential fires in the United States. CPSC found that,"the contribution of cigarette fires to the total number of fire deaths is large. Since 1980 they have represented between 30 and 40 percent of all residential fire deaths and between 40 and 50 percent of all non-heating equipment residential fire deaths." The memo also noted that the severity of cigarette fires was worse than fires caused by other sources.[1]

As a result of scrutiny of the harm caused by cigarettes that keep burning when left unattended, calls for fire-safe cigarettes increased during the 1980s. More states started considering fire-safe cigarette legislation. The tobacco industry fought such legislation with the following arguments: 1) attempts to change cigarettes will not solve the problem; 2) advances in technology cannot be created through legislation; 3) a valid measurement for ignition propensity (of fabric substrates) does not exist, 4) legislation does not consider consumer acceptability of cigarettes, 5) an increase in the price of cigarettes (resulting from fire-safe cigarette bills) would affect peoples' employment and income; and 6) "Many members of the firefighting and fire prevention community... fear that development of a fire-safe cigarette will interfere with the consideration of more comprehensive answers to the accidental fire problem."[2]

Animal testing

U.S. government agencies that require and/or conduct animal testing include the Consumer Product Safety Commission. [3] See also animal testing, section 3 on product testing.


U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
4330 East West Highway
Bethesda, MD 20814

Phone: (301) 504-7923

Fax: (301) 504-0124 and (301) 504-0025

Web address: http://www.cpsc.gov/

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