Recalls of unsafe children’s products drop

By Xinjuan Deng

Capital New Service

LANSING – After an increase in 2010, federal recalls of unsafe children’s products dropped by 24 percent last year.

Bumble Bee & Lady Bug Infant Slipper Socks from Meijer Inc. were recalled because of a choking hazard. Photo: cpsc.gov

Nursery products were the most-recalled category, accounting for 30 percent, followed by toys at 26 percent.

But some advocacy groups say the figures from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission are incomplete.

Kids in Danger, a nonprofit organization in Chicago, said injuries and other incidents associated with those recalls grew 7 percent.

“We don’t know if the Consumer Product Safety Commission looked to recall more products and were unable to persuade manufacturers, or if this represents a decrease in dangerous products in the marketplace,” said Nancy Cowles, executive director of Kids In Danger.

The report said last year recalls were the lowest since 2006.

Recalled products last year included those from two Michigan companies. Bumble Bee & Lady Bug Infant Slipper Socks from Meijer Inc. and Refreshing Rings teethers/rattles from Sassy Inc. in Kentwood.

Cowles acknowledged that recalls of products containing lead and drop-side cribs were down due to federal regulation, but said the agency’s overall figure needs more analysis.

“The recall process is secret until it is announced. It is hard to know if more products should be recalled,” Cowles said.

The organization attributed the drop in recalls to implementation of a 2008 product safety law.

Cowles said most hazards in children’s products are design flaws, which are hard for non-engineers to see.

One recent problem found in Michigan was toxic chemicals in popular children’s products such as jewelry, nursing pillows and car seats. Such products may contain toxic flame retardants linked to cancer, hormone disruption and other negative health effects, according to the Michigan Network for Children’s Environmental Health in Ann Arbor.

“Children and families should not be exposed to these compounds, which can escape from household items and contaminate house dust and indoor air,” said Rebecca Meuninck, environmental health campaign director at the network.

She continued, “Toxic flame retardants have no business being in products we bring into our homes, especially in items for kids who are more vulnerable to chemical exposures.”

Alexis Blizman, legislative and policy director at the network, said the chemical regulatory system is broken, and that means products can contain chemicals of concern.

She said the federal toxic substances law hasn’t been updated for more than 35 years.

The network supports a bill by Sen. Rebekah Warren, D-Ann Arbor, to require Michigan regulators to create a list of so-called “chemicals of concern” in children’s products and require importers and large manufacturers to disclose their presence in such products.

Co-sponsors of the bill include Democratic Sens. Steve Bieda of Warren, Vincent Gregory of Southfield and Virgil Smith of Detroit.

It is pending in the Senate Government Operations Committee.

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