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Lawmakers Question Delay in CPSC Action to Reduce Third-Party Testing Costs

Thursday, October 24, 2013
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

Seven members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee asked Consumer Product Safety Committee Chair Inez Tenenbaum recently to explain why the agency has yet to take action on recommendations from its staff on ways to reduce the costs of third-party testing of children’s products. The CPSC voted to move ahead with nine of these recommendations last October but has not implemented any of them, the letter said. The Commission has also not reported any lack of authority to implement any opportunities for reducing testing costs, as a law passed in 2011 requires it to do if it makes such a determination.

The lawmakers said they are concerned that the CPSC “is not dedicating the appropriate resources to this congressionally-mandated priority” and therefore asked for the following information.

- a schedule for implementation of each of the nine cost-reduction opportunities selected in October 2012, including which key tasks have already been performed, which remain and when implementation will be finalized

- with respect to determinations that a particular material will rarely or never contain a restricted substance, whether the CPSC could grant immediate temporary relief in the form of an enforcement policy pending the final determinations, as it did in 2009 with respect to lead content

- whether some testing relief could be accelerated by prioritizing determinations for materials that are more commonly found in children’s products, like wood, cotton and wool

- whether there are any natural materials as to which prior CPSC staff analyses can be relied upon to support determinations without further delay (e.g., if wood, cotton and wool contain little or no lead, is it also likely that they contain little or no mercury, barium, selenium or other heavy elements)

- the cost reduction opportunities that the CPSC did not vote to pursue and the reasons why, as well as the opportunities proposed by the public that staff did not recommend

- whether legislative action is needed to give the CPSC greater authority to implement cost reductions

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