Loading...

Toy Safety Hazards Bring Warning From Senate as Christmas Nears

November 30, 2021 by Tom Ramstack
Toy Safety Hazards Bring Warning From Senate as Christmas Nears

WASHINGTON — Trista Hamsmith told a Senate panel Tuesday the Christmas story no parent wants to endure.

Her normally lively daughter, a toddler named Reese, began coughing and exhibited difficulty breathing last year. A doctor diagnosed her with a common childhood respiratory infection called croup, gave her medication and sent her home.

As her symptoms worsened, Reese’s parents noticed a button cell battery missing from their television remote control. They took their daughter to Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston where doctors found the girl had swallowed the battery.

A fistula formed in her esophagus from battery acid. She was fed through a tube in her stomach and her lungs collapsed.

Hamsmith told the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation subcommittee on consumer protection about being near her daughter’s bedside as hospital personnel talked about reviving the 18-month-old.

“No pulse, no pulse, again and again,” the Lubbock, Texas, mother quoted them saying. The girl died eight days before Christmas.

Reese’s story was the centerpiece anecdote during a Senate hearing Tuesday on the safety of children’s toys.

More and more of them are sold under counterfeit brand names and contain unsafe materials or components, according to product safety experts who testified. Many are purchased online with little chance of tracking them to manufacturers in distant countries.

Toy safety concerns led Consumer Protection subcommittee Chairman Sen. Richard Blumenthal to introduce a bill this week called Reese’s Law.

The pending bill would require the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to develop stronger safety standards for button batteries within one year. It also would compel manufacturers to put warning labels and child resistant packaging on button batteries.

An additional question discussed at the Senate hearing is whether button battery safety would realistically resolve safety problems with children’s toys.

In one recent case, a shipment of counterfeit toys from China was intercepted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection at the Port of Baltimore. They later were found to contain the toxic materials barium, cadmium and lead.

Blumenthal said that “150,000 toy-related injuries were reported in 2020 alone, and nine deaths.”

He added that consumer awareness is rarely an adequate protection when the end users are children.

“Kids don’t care a lot,” Blumenthal said.

Other risks come from swallowing magnets that can block intestinal passages, balloons that suffocate children or sharp toy components that can cut them severely.

Toy safety is supposed to be the job of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, a small government agency charged with eliminating “unreasonable risks” of consumer goods. The agency evaluates the safety of products, coordinates recalls when they are unsafe, develops safety standards and researches product-related illnesses and injuries.

“They are the main watchdog and warning system for consumers, so these kinds of tragedies can be prevented,” Blumenthal said.

The agency also lacks adequate funding and must go through a rule-making process for safety regulations that Blumenthal described as burdensome. He suggested more funding and streamlined rule-making.

Sen. Marsha Blackburn said that as more retail purchases come from online sales, consumers “are more concerned about where these products are coming from and why these products might be unsafe.”

She suggested closer government oversight of the retail supply chain to ensure unsafe toys and other products never reach U.S. markets.

The hearing came on the heels of a U.S. Public Interest Research Service report this month called “Trouble in Toyland.” It warns about toys sold under counterfeit or knock-off brand names through websites that act as third-party retailers, of what the report calls “middlemen.”

Traditional retailers must have a certificate of compliance with government safety standards.

“The middlemen do not consider themselves to be traditional retailers and therefore often do not follow the same rules that a traditional retailer would,” says the report from the U.S. Public Interest Research Service, a nonprofit consumer watchdog group. 

The report’s author, Hannah Rhodes, told the Senate panel, “Unfortunately, the burden is on consumers” to identify unsafe counterfeit or knock-off toys. Few of them have the ability to recognize the risks, she said.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission advised recently that toys sold in well-known retail stores like Walmart, Target and Best Buy are safe. The agency would give no assurances about lesser-known retailers.

Tom can be reached at tom@thewellnews.com

In The News

Health

Voting

In The News

January 21, 2022
by Dan McCue
Judge Blocks Vaccine Mandate for Federal Workers

GALVESTON, Texas — A federal judge in Texas issued a preliminary injunction on Friday blocking the Biden administration from requiring... Read More

GALVESTON, Texas — A federal judge in Texas issued a preliminary injunction on Friday blocking the Biden administration from requiring that federal workers be vaccinated against the coronavirus. But the ruling by U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Brown is expected to have little impact. As of Friday,... Read More

January 21, 2022
by Tom Ramstack
Virginia Attorney General Sues Over School Mask Mandates

WASHINGTON — Virginia’s new attorney general continued a hard turn to the right Thursday when he filed documents in the... Read More

WASHINGTON — Virginia’s new attorney general continued a hard turn to the right Thursday when he filed documents in the state Supreme Court asking for a dismissal of a lawsuit against Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s order overturning mask mandates. Youngkin’s executive order last week makes masking in... Read More

January 21, 2022
by Tom Ramstack
Antitrust Bill Targets Big Tech For Preferential Treatment Given to Their Own Products

WASHINGTON — The Senate Judiciary Committee approved antitrust legislation Thursday that bans Big Tech from giving a preference to their... Read More

WASHINGTON — The Senate Judiciary Committee approved antitrust legislation Thursday that bans Big Tech from giving a preference to their own products and services on their internet platforms. The American Innovation and Choice Online Act responds to criticism that Amazon, Apple, Google and Meta Platforms Inc.’s... Read More

January 21, 2022
by Dan McCue
Governor Moves to Update, Expand Massachusetts’ Outdated Wiretap Law

BOSTON — Massachusetts’ wiretap statute, adopted in 1968 as a tool to combat organized crime, is now woefully out of... Read More

BOSTON — Massachusetts’ wiretap statute, adopted in 1968 as a tool to combat organized crime, is now woefully out of date; it needs a major revision to better equip law enforcement for the realities of the 21st century, the state’s governor said on Friday. “As technology... Read More

January 21, 2022
by Dan McCue
Office of Personnel Management Raises Fed Minimum Wage to $15/Hour

WASHINGTON — Fulfilling a directive President Joe Biden issued on his first day in office, the Office of Personnel Management... Read More

WASHINGTON — Fulfilling a directive President Joe Biden issued on his first day in office, the Office of Personnel Management on Friday formally raised the minimum wage for federal employees to $15 an hour. The change means a raise for approximately 67,000 federal employees, commencing on... Read More

January 21, 2022
by Dan McCue
Global Leaders Facing Complex, Often Divergent Economic Challenges in 2022

GENEVA, Switzerland – Policy makers the world over will face a complex and often divergent set of economic challenges this... Read More

GENEVA, Switzerland – Policy makers the world over will face a complex and often divergent set of economic challenges this year as COVID wanes and other challenges, ranging from inflation to record fiscal debt levels, retake center stage, said participants at the Davos Agenda, a virtual... Read More

News From The Well
Exit mobile version