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Children's Product Safety Regulations Under Fire

A new database would let parents search for safety reports on toys and gear

Toy manufacturers are taking aim at newly restrictive product safety regulations that they claim hamper their ability to do business.

They’re finding a receptive audience in Republican lawmakers, while Democrats remain determined to keep the laws in place.

The major target of the toy-making lobby (there’s a toy-making lobby? Who knew?) is a database that would allow consumers to search for complaints or injury reports about children’s products.

Want to know how safe your stroller is? Soon you should be able to find out on the Internet.

Unless Republican lawmakers get their way. Saying that people can’t be trusted to make accurate reports, some lawmakers are scrambling to shut the database down by stripping its funding. They hope to protect children’s product manufacturers from specious or unverifiable claims.

The New York Times reports that the database, scheduled to go live in just three weeks, will probably survive in spite of House efforts to kill it. It’s just one of several aspects of  product safety regulations that are coming under fire.

It’s not just big businesses complaining about the regulations. The rules, which include third-party testing for lead, have put a lot of small businesses in a financial pickle. It’s hard to run a business selling handmade toys anyway; having to test for toxins that you know perfectly well never came anywhere near your handcrafted wooden trains just adds to the cost.

Most Democrats and child safety advocates, though, say the regulations are necessary to protect children from accidents, injuries and exposure to poisons like lead.

Personally I’m on the fence about this one. When this round of child product safety regulations first came out, they were so stringent our local Goodwill stopped selling children’s clothes for fear of running afoul of the law. Independent third-party testing just isn’t practical for many second-hand shops and small businesses. On the other hand, cheap imported toys with lead paint are a real hazard for little kids.

What do you think? Do you side with the toy makers on this one, or the safety advocates?

Photo: kisocci

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