U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
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Consumer Product Safety Commission seal
|Agency executive||Inez Moore Tenenbaum, Chairman|
The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is an independent agency of the United States government. It was created in 1972 through the Consumer Product Safety Act. The CPSC is an agency that reports to Congress and the President and is not part of any other department or agency in the federal government. The CPSC is generally headed by three commissioners nominated by the President of the United States and confirmed by the Senate for staggered seven-year terms. The commissioners set policy for the CPSC. The CPSC is located in Bethesda, Maryland.
The CPSC regulates the sale and manufacture of more than 15,000 different consumer products, from cribs to all-terrain vehicles. Its authority ranges from barbecue grills to swimming pools.The CPSC is a regulator of products. Products not under jurisdiction of the CPSC include those specifically named by law as under the jurisdiction of other federal agencies; for example, automobiles are regulated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, guns are regulated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, and drugs are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.
CPSC fulfills its mission by banning dangerous consumer products, issuing recalls of products already on the market, and researching potential hazards associated with consumer products. CPSC learns about unsafe products in several ways. The agency maintains a consumer hot line and website through which consumers may report concerns about unsafe products or injuries associated with products. The agency also operates the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS), a probability sample of about 100 hospitals with 24-hour emergency rooms. NEISS collects data on consumer product related injuries treated in ERs and can be used to generate national estimates.
Industry-sponsored travel controversy
On November 2, 2007, the Washington Post reported that between 2002 and the date of their report, former chairman Hal Stratton and current commissioner and former acting chairman Nancy Nord had taken more than 30 trips paid for by manufacturing groups or lobbyists representing industries that are under the supervision of the agency. According to the Post, the groups paid for over $60,000 travel and related expenses during this time.
Funding and staff
In 1972 when the agency was created, it had a budget of $34.7 million and 786 staff members. By 2008 it had 401 employees on a budget of $43 million, but the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act passed in 2008 increases funding $136.4 million in 2014 with full-time employees to at least 500 by 2013.
2008 reform following the "Year of the Recall"
2007 has been called the "Year of the Recall" in the United States, and the CPSC alone imposed 473 recalls in 2007, a record. This notably included many incidents with lead in toys and other children's products. These issues led to the legislative interest in the reform of the agency, and the final result of these efforts was the passage of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act in 2008. The bill increased funding and staffing for the CPSC, placed stricter limits on lead levels in children's products (redefined from products intended for children age seven and under to children age twelve and under), restricted certain phthalates in children's toys and child care articles, required mandatory testing and certification of applicable products, and required the CPSC to create a public database of their products.
The public database (saferproducts.gov), constructed at a cost of around $3 million USD and launched in March 2011, "publicizes complaints from virtually anyone who can provide details about a safety problem connected with any of the 15,000 kinds of consumer goods regulated by the" CPSC. While being lauded by consumer advocates for making previously hidden information available, manufacturers have expressed their concern "that most of the complaints are not first vetted by the CPSC before they are made public", meaning it could be abused and potentially used to ruin specific brands. As of mid-April 2011, the database was accruing about 30 safety complaints per day.
- Code of Federal Regulations
- Toy safety
- Injury prevention
- Child-resistant packaging
- Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act
- Lead-based paint in the United States
- www.cpsc.gov FAQ. Retrieved 2010-06-17.
- CPSC - Contact Information
- Williamson, Elizabeth (2007-11-02). "Industries Paid for Top Regulators' Travel". Washington Post. Retrieved 2007-11-02.
- Flaherty E. (2008). Safety First: The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008. Loy. Consumer L. Rev..
- Lyndsey Layton (14 April 2011). "Consumer database escapes budget ax". Washington Post. Post Politics. Retrieved 16 April 2011.