• PVC. Polyvinyl chloride, often found in plastic packaging and toys, actually contains phthalates—including the
highly controversial DEHP
(di-(2-ethylhexyl))—and is composed of vinyl chloride, which is classified by the Environmental Protection Agency as a carcinogen. According to a November 2007 article in The Wall Street Journal, retail giant Target Corp. decided to reduce the use of PVC in many of its products because of concerns that these products’ deterioration may cause lead poisoning (vinyl products sometimes
There is a bill currently being passed around in California (A.B. 2505) that will call for gradually discontinuing the use of PVC, beginning in 2013.
• Manufacturing or design defects. Flammability, combustibility, small points, choking hazards and material tensile strength (the point at which a piece of fabric breaks or loses its structural integrity) are but a few other areas that fall under the product-safety umbrella. Current testing requirements and procedures can be found on the CPSC’s Web site.
Though the CPSC is the default governmental organization where product safety is concerned, until recently, much of its legislation had been out of touch with real-world concerns. “There appears to be a lack of central federal authority when it comes to product-safety standards,” Christopher Duffy, senior vice president of marketing for Bag Makers, Union, Ill., affirmed in an interview that occurred prior to the signing of H.R. 4040.
Perhaps to compensate for erstwhile federal oversights, rigorous state laws such as Prop 65 were passed in an effort to fill in the gaps. “Historically, the federal government hasn’t taken on this role and has left it up
to the states to enforce safe products for its residents,” he added. Although Prop 65 is one of the most oft-cited product laws, other states have been
similarly fortifying their respective regulations. “It’s my understanding that as many as 37 states now have product-safety bills under consideration,”