As parents and caregivers, we assume that the products we buy for our families are safe because someone must be testing them. However, the agency that is charged with protecting us from hazardous products, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), faces an obstacle that slows or prevents it from informing the public of dangerous products because of a little-known regulation called Section 6(b). However, U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (IL) and Senator Richard Blumenthal (CT) have reintroduced a bill to change this.
The CPSC was established by Congress in 1972 to protect consumers from unsafe products and has jurisdiction over more than 15,000 different types of products. However, in 1981, Congress drastically changed Section 6(b) of the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA) to give companies control on what information can be released to the public. This forces the agency to negotiate with manufacturers for every release of information, including each recall, despite overwhelming proof of an unsafe product. At best this causes, delays, sometimes at the cost of human life. At worst, the information is never released. It allows companies to withhold information about hazardous products, while these items may still be in use in consumers’ homes, protecting companies and their reputation above the safety of consumers.
The well-known Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play recall is just one example of the pitfalls of Section 6(b). Built on faulty medical knowledge and no further follow up with other medical experts in the related field, the Rock ‘n Play was introduced in 2009 as a sleep product. Health experts and advocates were immediately had misgivings about the product’s safety. These concerns ultimately proved to be accurate, and the number of deaths associated with the products grew with no warning from Fisher-Price or the CPSC.
It wasn’t until an accidental disclosure of information that this dangerous product was recalled. Consumer Reports was reviewing product failures, injuries, and deaths data requested from the CPSC when it found at least 19 infant fatalities attributed to the Rock ‘n Play and similar products. This data would have usually been redacted under section 6(b), but due to an agency mistake, it was made available.
It should not have taken a mistake for this information to be made public. The CPSC should be able to disclose information to the public about a hazardous product without the company’s approval, and companies shouldn’t have an option to hide safety information from the public. That’s why Rep. Schakowsky and Sen. Blumenthal reintroduced the Sunshine in Product Safety Act which would repeal Section 6(b) and allow the CPSC to inform the public about dangerous products in a timely manner.
Support this life-saving bill today by contacting your U.S. Senators and U.S Representative and asking them to cosponsor the Sunshine in Product Safety Act. Let your elected officials know that companies shouldn’t be able to hide or delay information about their dangerous products and the CPSC shouldn’t have ask for their permission before warning the public. The Sunshine in Product Safety Act frees the CPSC to its job and keep consumers safe. Find your U.S. Senators’ and Representative’s names and contact information here.