The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) this month released its top 10 list of recalled children’s products. The goal is to increase consumer protection by banning the sale of some dangerous products, in resale stores and over the Internet.
Consumers who seek out bargains in resale shops or in online auctions should also be aware of the recalls, so that they can avoid buying hazardous products that may unknowingly be put up for sale.
CPSC has joined forces with the National Association of Resale & Thrift Shops (NARTS), The Salvation Army, state agencies and others to educate re-sellers about recalled products. The agency has voiced special concern over cribs that do not meet current safety standards, drawstrings in children’s clothing, and portable cribs known as play yards.
Play yards, cribs and bassinets have been recalled a number of times. Researchers have found that structures can collapse or parts can shift, leaving dangerous gaps in which infants and toddlers can become trapped.
New products are not exempt from problems. In April, Evenflo Envision High Chairs were recalled when it was learned that fasteners could become loose and fall out. That posed a risk that the child might fall out and be injured. A choking hazard was also posed by the loosened parts.
A recall in February of this year involved hooded sweatshirts. A 3-year-old boy in California was strangled when the drawstring on his hooded sweat shirt became stuck on a piece of playground equipment. Drawstrings have been the items cited in a number of recalls.
Some toys containing small magnets are also on the top 10 list. The little magnets can come loose; if they’re swallowed or inhaled, they can pose serious health risks.
The awareness campaign is putting the spotlight on a law passed last year, which makes it illegal to sell recalled products. The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act sets strict limits for lead in paint and other products. It also puts limits on phthalates — used mainly to soften vinyl — in clothing or other products intended for children’s use.
The industry group representing resellers voiced initial concerns about possible hidden costs in the law, but NARTS says it is all in favor of the educational campaign. “Our members are resale professionals committed to product safety who believe good value and selling safe products go hand in hand,” says Adele Meyer, Executive Director of NARTS.
The Wall Street Journal is less a fan, calling provisions of the new law “draconian” and claiming it may drive small-business owners under. The paper is calling for amendments to counter the “lead paint panic” as written in the new law.
For now, CPSC is monitoring Internet-based retailers and auction sites, looking for sales of recalled products. It’s reminding resellers that the law applies to them, too.
You can get a look at the top 10 list by visiting the CPSC Web site at http://www.cpsc.gov/roundup/roundup2009.html. That site also includes links with information that resellers of goods may find helpful.