Consumer Product Safety Act

The Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA) was enacted in 1972 by the United States Congress. The act established the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) as an independent agency of the United States federal government and defined its basic authority. The act gives CPSC the power to develop safety standards and pursue recalls for products that present unreasonable or substantial risks of injury or death to consumers. It also allows CPSC to ban a product if there is no feasible alternative. CPSC has jurisdiction over more than 15,000 different products. The CPSA excludes from CPSC's jurisdiction those products that expressly lie in another federal agency's jurisdiction, for example food, drugs, cosmetics, medical devices, tobacco products, firearms and ammunition, motor vehicles, pesticides, aircraft, and boats. These products may fall under the purview of agencies such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Transportation, the U.S. Environment Protection Agency, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, and the U.S. Coast Guard.

The CPSA is codified at 15 U.S.C. §§ 20512084. Federal regulations associated with the act are at Title 16 CFR parts 1101 through 1406. These regulations are numerous and include such laws as the Poison Prevention Packaging Act (PPPA), safety standards for such products as bicycles and cigarette lighters, a ban on lead in paint, and a rule concerning size requirements for toys that could be choking hazards for young children.

On 2008-08-14, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 became effective. Among other provisions, its Section 219 (15 U.S.C. 2051) protects whistleblowers who take certain actions to raise concerns about consumer product safety. Those who believe they suffered unlawful retaliation for raising such concerns have 180 days to file a written complaint with OSHA seeking statutory remedies.

It requires manufacturers and importers of all children's products to have batches of their products tested by an independent certified laboratory. It affected, among other things, distribution of children's books which may contain small amounts of lead. Public libraries were forced to pull thousands of books from their shelves. Testing books for lead would cost about $300 per book, according to a spokeswoman for the American Library Association, which has opposed the law. In 2011, President Obama signed HR 2715 into law, which exempted ordinary books from testing requirements.

Charity shops, second-hand goods stores, and others selling children's goods including books manufactured before 1985 may not sell children's goods that violate the lead standards. In order to assure themselves of the safety of those products, they may use a variety of means, the most reliable of which would be lead testing on the products.

The CPSIA law had threatened sales of motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles built for children under 12, as internal parts of the bikes are built with alloys containing a small amount of lead. However, these too were also exempted under the 2011 amendment.

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