Friday, March 7, 2008

Labs to Get Job of Ensuring Toy Safety

Congress is giving the job of ensuring that children's products are safe to many of the same private laboratories that already work for importers, manufacturers and retailers.

A bill approved yesterday by the Senate -- as well as a similar bill already passed by the House -- aims to plug holes in the government's consumer safety net that have been letting hazardous products aimed at children slip through. Dozens of toys were recalled by manufacturers in 2007 because of dangers including choking risks and contamination involving lead, asbestos and other toxic chemicals.

Under the new bills, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission would develop procedures for certifying and monitoring the work of independent labs that test for conformance with federal safety standards. The commission would also have more powers, including the ability to assess fines of up to $20 million for violations of product safety laws.

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