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Protecting our children

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By Congressman Bob Goodlatte

It has become almost commonplace to turn on the evening news or visit an online news source and see the headlines detailing the latest recall of lead-contaminated products, mostly toys, from China. In 2007 alone, we have had around 77 toy recalls, involving more than 20 million toys. While this represents a very small percentage of the total number of toys sold in the United States, our children deserve better.

Last week the House of Representatives took action to better protect all consumers, especially children, from these hazardous products. The Consumer Product Safety Modernization Act raises safety standards for toys and other products manufactured both domestically and overseas. The legislation creates the toughest lead standard in the world and bans lead beyond a minuscule amount in products intended for children under the age of twelve. Once fully phased in, the legislation would lower the standard from 600 parts per million to 100 parts per million or trace amounts.

The Consumer Product Safety Modernization Act also requires tougher testing for all children's products. In addition to being tested for lead, products will be tested for more closely for choking hazards and any other potential dangers. Manufacturers will be required to include tracking labels to aid in the event of a recall on all toys intended for children age 12 and younger.

Additionally, this important legislation overhauls the Consumer Product Safety Commission by increasing their funding and staffing. The legislation provides the funding necessary for the Commission to modernize its testing laboratory.

Iinally, the Consumer Product Safety Modernization Act enhances the Commission's power to quickly stop the distribution of unsafe products and notify State and local health officials of products that pose an imminent risk to consumers.

This bipartisan legislation was the result of many months of research and investigations conducted by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. The Committee sent letters to 19 retailers and importers requesting information on their findings of lead contamination in children's toys manufactured in China. The Committee also conducted several hearings regarding the subsequent product recalls.

This week, across the nation children will be happily unwrapping Christmas presents under the tree. The good news is that nearly two-thirds of Americans say they have never had a toy in their home recalled but nothing is more important than the safety of our children. The Consumer Product Safety Modernization Act is a positive step in the right direction to better protecting our children from hazardous products by ensuring these products never even make it into our country. If you need additional information or a complete list of product recalls please visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission's website at http://www.cpsc.gov/.