Earlier this week, we began a discussion about the ways in which the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has yet to act on the critical safety issue of cadmium-tainted children's toys and jewelry. These unsafe products have been present in the marketplace for years, but the CPSC has so-far failed to recall most of them or educate the public that they remain on store shelves and in millions of homes.
When the Associated Press discovered that the CPSC had done little to correct this public health safety issue, the agency responded that its limited resources have helped to define the scope of the problem. It insists that it has done what it can with the resources it has.
Indeed, the CPSC employs less than 550 individuals and operates on a budget of just $115 million. This may seem like a significant amount of manpower and money, but given the fact that the agency is responsible for regulating millions of products, its resources are certainly limited on that relative scale.
Why is it so important that the CPSC get cadmium in children's products under control? The agency estimates that thousands of American children are rushed every year to emergency rooms because they have swallowed jewelry. If this jewelry contains cadmium, that substance will likely stay in the child's body for decades to come. Certain levels of exposure lead to organ and bone damage, as well as the development of cancer.
The CPSC's resources are limited and recalls are difficult to mandate. However, the public has a right to be educated on this safety issue and American kids deserve to be protected from toxic toys and jewelry. Hopefully the CPSC will be granted the funds it needs to address this issue properly and promptly.
Source: Washington Post, "CPSC promised to protect kids from cadmium jewelry, still failing on basic steps," Oct. 14, 2012