Exporting Toxic Toys: Good Enough for Somebody Else

The Consumer Product Safety Commission just pulled another lot of childrens' art sets from Toys R Us: "Consumers should immediately take the products away from children," warned a news release from the federal government's watchdog for thousands of household items. "The CPSC is committed to protecting consumers and families."

But evidently the same organization lets American companies ship the same crap to other countries, and last year allowed the shipping of tainted art supplies to Venesuela and contaminated crayons to Jamaica. There is not a lot of consumer protection in these countries, according to David Pittle, a former CPSC chair. "If the United States doesn't have very many inspectors, how many do you think there are in Honduras or Jamaica or Trinidad or Bulgaria?" Pittle asked.

According to Russell Carollo of the Sacramento Bee, CPSC Commissioner Thomas Moore isn't crazy about this.

"Our agency, through our governing statues, cannot claim much moral superiority over the Chinese, or any other foreign country, when it comes to our own export policy," Moore said in a list of his legislative proposals submitted to Congress in July. "Our export policy is based on a desire to see U.S. manufacturers be able to compete in foreign countries in terms of price and marketability, not safety."

"... It is somewhat hypocritical of us to berate any other country for not requiring their manufacturers to abide by the myriad U.S. mandatory and voluntary product safety standards."

Other products dumped around the world are flammable clothing, cosmetics containing isobutyl nitrite, (the main ingredient of "poppers") and toys to the Caribean.

"To me it's like a no-brainer that the children of the consumers in another country will feel the pain of a dangerous product just like they would here in the United States, so I don't think it's OK to dump this stuff in another country," said Pittle, who also served as a CPSC commissioner from 1973 to 1982. "Small parts with toys that can lodge in kids' throat. I think that's probably universal no matter where you go. It's global." ::Sacramento Bee via ::Environmental Journalism Today

Tags: Chemicals | Toys

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