- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 19, 2008

NEW YORK — Consumer Product Safety Commission Chairman Nancy A. Nord scolded the toy industry for not doing enough to keep its products safe, specifically for violating the country’s ban on lead paint.

“As a mom and as chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, I am very, very angry that we found so many violations of a standard that should be familiar to all of you,” Mrs. Nord told an audience at the American International Toy Fair in New York yesterday.

“I will not tolerate either this industry or any other industry not complying with our regulations,” she said.

Lead paint has been banned in the United States for nearly 30 years, but 19 toys were recalled for containing it last year.

“Lead is a serious issue,” said Joan Lawrence, vice president of standards and regulatory affairs for the Toy Industry Association (TIA), a New York group that represents the industry. “We have been working to find a solution since those recalls.”

Mrs. Nord also lauded the industry for taking steps to regulate itself, including a new program announced today by the TIA designed to assure buyers that products are safe.

The association’s board of directors voted this weekend to approve an early version of the program, which was developed by the TIA and the American National Standards Institute. It includes design hazard analysis, manufacturing process controls and product safety testing.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission, or CPSC, plans to release full details Friday, when the plan is released for public comment.

A number of bills have been introduced in Congress that would require mandatory federal regulations of toys. The TIA program is designed to meet those standards and possibly become the mandatory federal regulation.

“It’s designed to work hand in hand with the legislation being talked about that would require the CPSC to develop or designate [a regulation program],” Ms. Lawrence said. “Then it would be mandatory industrywide.”

The program could include a safety seal that would be applied to toys that meet the standards.

Mrs. Nord also tried to assure the industry the CPSC is doing its job.

“I am here to say that we are working to do even more to keep our children safe,” she said, outlining new CPSC programs that include adding staffers at ports, upgrading equipment and investing in new testing technology.

The convention is one of the largest gatherings of toy manufacturers, buyers and retailers in the country. Safety has weighed heavily on the event, the first since a series of toys were recalled last year for containing hazardous magnets or lead paint, some of which were manufactured in China.

Many manufacturers who produce their goods in the United States have highlighted that fact in their booths. Others say they have fielded questions from buyers about where their products originate.

Toy companies say they are doing all they can to ensure safety.

Mattel Inc. spokeswoman Sara Rosales said all of the safety changes the company installed last summer after the toy recalls were in place and this year’s toys are in development, meaning the new toys underwent the additional testing.

Toys “R” Us Inc. just announced its manufacturers will have to comply with more stringent safety regulations, such as increasing third-party testing and eliminating the use of nickel-cadmium batteries.

Alison Rhodes, a toy-safety authority and founder of SafetyMoms.com, said toy safety will continue to concern parents after this summer’s toy recalls and last year’s food recalls.

“Moms in general have a more heightened sense of safety when it comes to their kids’ safety, and that’s not going to go away,” Ms. Rhodes said. “All of the manufacturers right now have moms throwing up their hands, saying you need to show me how you’re making the toys safe.”

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