November 2007


Consumer watchdog groups have issued new warnings for parents, according to a story on CNN.  The groups, including the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, warn that toys that pose choking hazards and lead hazards are still making it to toy store shelves because of loopholes in the laws that regulate toy safety.  The USPIRG cites weak laws that only clearly bans lead in paint as one example of the loopholes.  The group did research which included purchasing 100 toys at various retailers.  They found high levels of lead in 9 out of the 100 toys, and lead levels they considered dangerous in another 6 toys.

Consumer groups are working on Capital Hill to get Congress to pass legislation to strengthen the CPSC by giving it more authority to act, to raise civil penalties against companies violating the standards, and to allow the CPSC to send out notices quicker.  Consumer groups also want tighter regulations on members of the CPSC taking trips sponsored by the industries they oversee.

The CPSC has issued an article titled the ABC’s of Toy Safety, that outlines key areas parents should be focused on in regard to toy safety.  The following are tips included in the article:

  • Ride-on Toys – Riding toys, skateboards and in-line skates go fast and falls could be deadly. Helmets and safety gear should be sized to fit.
  • Small Parts – For children younger than age three, avoid toys with small parts, which can cause choking.
  • Magnets – For children under age six, avoid building sets with small magnets. If magnets or pieces with magnets are swallowed, serious injuries and/or death can occur.
  • Projectile Toys – Projectile toys such as air rockets, darts and sling shots are for older children. Improper use of these toys can result in serious eye injuries.
  • Chargers and Adapters – Charging batteries should be supervised by adults. Chargers and adapters can pose thermal burn hazards to children.

UPDATE:  Another article on CNN about precautions parents should take in buying toys for their children.

Merck has settled almost 50,000 cases alleging injury from their drug Vioxx for $4.85 Billion, according to a story in the Baton Rouge Advocate.  Claimants alleged the drug caused heart attack or ischemic stroke, the type in which blood flow to the brain is blocked, in some users of the drug.  The drug has been off the market for 3 years. 

News release from CPSC, Coby hass issued a new recall for DVD/MP3, boomboxes.  About 12,000 of the boomboxes were sold.  Product #’s include: TF-DVD170 and TF-DVD176.  

The boomboxes were sold at discount, electronics, music, toy, and office supply stores, as well as distributors of electronics products nationwide from May 2006 through October 2007 for between $140 and $170. 

CORRECTION:  In this post I included information on sending Christmas cards to Walter Reed Hospital.  I have found out that is not the proper way to send the cards. 

These are the proper ways to support our military.  The following wesite has great information on sending cards and gifts to our military men and women:

http://www.americasupportsyou.mil/americasupportsyou/index.aspx

You can also donate to the USO, who provide gifts to oursoldiers for the holidays:

https://www.uso.org/donate/custom.aspx?id=589

A little of your time and effort could mean a lot to someone who has made a great sacrifice for our freedom.

CNN.COM has a story on a new CPSC recall. Aquadots, a popular children’s toy made by Spin Master Toys, was recalled today because the coating on the dots turns into a dangerous date rape drug, gamma hydroxy butyrate, when ingested. The toy is a craft kit which allows children to make multidimensional art by piecing the beads together. Five children, including 2 in the US and three in Australia, have been hospitalized so far.

The US victims slipped into a comatose state and were hospitalized. One of the children has recovered completely, the other child has been released from the hospital and is recovering. 

When ingested by children the beads can cause death, coma, drowsiness, respiratory depression, seizures and unconsciousness.  According to Naren Gunja from Australia’s Poisons Information Center, the drug’s effect on children is “quite serious . . . and potentially life-threatening.”  Because of the potential danger the CPSC has requested that parents take this toy away from children immediately.

CNN also has a story with tips for parents on buying presents for your children this Christmas season.  Some of the tips include doing your own toy research (including checking the CPSC website regularly), take into account your child’s vulnerabilities and tendencies, and get basic with entertainment (buy your child books and music rather than toys).  Good tips in scary times. 

warning

Article in the Baton Rouge, Louisiana Advocate, regarding food safety in the US.  Various government agencies have responsibilities over the food system in this country, including the FDA and the USDA.  These agancies are underfunded and understaffed and can’t handle the task of ensuring a safe food supply. 

Critics say that having “food police” responsibilities spread out over multiple government agencies, who sometimes don’t have the power to actually do anything if they find out about tainted food, creates the problems we have seen recently: huge recalls, people sickened by contaminated food, etc.  One option is to consolidate power in one agency.  Congress will take that up in the months to come.  If nothing happens soon, I can change the name of the blog to Tort Burger – Hold the Tainted Beef.  I like the ring of that…  

New article on CNN on Flexipel Stand N’ Seal, manufactured by Roanoke (now known as BRTT) that has a timeline for the Stand ‘N Seal disaster.  The manufacturer started receiving complaints about the product in May 2005.  The manufacturer’s chairman wrote in an email in June 2005 that the company had received complaints about the product for two month, and that the situation was “very serious”.  The CPSC started their investigation into the complaints in June of 2005 and finally recalled the product in August of 2005. 

At some point, the CPSC let the manufacturer of Stand ‘N Seal put the product back on the market with a new formula.  The CNN story relates the case of a man who bought Stand ‘N Seal after the recall, used the product according to the manufacturer’s directions and sustained a severe case of chemical pneumonia after the exposure to the product.  The story takes the CPSC to task for not effectively handling the matter.

The fall out from this public health fiasco continues.  The CPSC needs to assess how these cases can be handle more efficiently on their end.  Two people were killed by this product and dozens more have sustained lung injuries from their exposures.  Attorneys need to look into whether there is a need for medical monitoring in the long term for those who were exposed to this product. 

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