Study Claims ‘Significant’ Number Of Cribs Contain Harmful Chemicals

FOX NEWS Published November 03, 2011

A report released Thursday claims that a significant portion of crib mattresses sold in the U.S. contain one or more potentially dangerous chemicals, despite previous efforts made by manufacturers to reduce the number of harmful chemicals.

The report found that 52 percent of mattress models surveyed were made with conventional materials, including toxic chemicals, and 20 percent of mattress models were made without chemicals of concern but with potential allergens.

Only eight percent of mattress models included in the report were made without any chemicals of concern or allergens.

One of the mattress models, the Sealy Baby Firm Crib Mattress, is a top-seller among parents. It uses a vinyl cover coated with an antibacterial. Despite a statement on the company website that the mattress “does not contain any harmful chemicals,” researchers said that the process itself of vinyl manufacturing requires the use of toxic chemicals.

The researchers also warned parents to be on the look-out for other misleading health claims, such as:

-The addition of soybean or other plant oils to polyurethane foam (which does not decrease use of chemicals of concern) to reduce “carbon footprint” or

-The use of one or more layers of organic cotton. In one case, the cotton material was then covered with vinyl.

“The mattress does matter,” said Bobbi Chase Wilding, deputy director of Clean and Healthy New York, who wrote the report. “We call on manufacturers to eliminate toxic chemicals and fully disclose what materials they are using. Parents deserve to protect their babies while they sleep.”

Companies demonstrate varying degrees of public disclosure about the chemicals in their mattresses, according to the researchers. Only half of the manufacturers in the study provided full information about the materials used in cribs—even though many of the chemicals the researchers tested for have been shown to cause harm in the past.

“There is a strong connection between chemicals in our environment and many of today’s common health problems, including asthma, learning and developmental disabilities, cancer, infertility, and obesity,” said Dr. David Carpenter, director of the Institute for Environment and Health at SUNY Albany School of Public Health. “This report will help parents choose safer mattresses for their babies and illuminates the need for further changes to how mattresses are made.”

Jeff Gelles: Learning about risky products | Philadelphia Inquirer | 10/30/2011

How well are the searchable public database and card-registration systems working?

Jeff Gelles, Inquirer Business Columnist


 Troy the Activity Truck is being recalled because of a choking hazard. Two-thirds of consumers aren´t aware of the registration-card mandate.
Consumer Product Safety Commission
Troy the Activity Truck is being recalled because of a choking hazard. Two-thirds of consumers aren’t aware of the registration-card mandate.

A quick Sunday quiz:

1. Where do you go to report an injury or a near-miss with a consumer product?

2. How do you learn whether others have identified risks you might want to know about – perhaps before you buy a toy or a space heater?

3. How do you make sure you’ll be informed of a safety-related recall if you buy, say, a baby’s crib, a toddler’s car seat, or a laptop computer?

The answer to the first two questions is the same –, which went online in March to take and share reports from consumers. Since April, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has been posting them in a searchable public database that last week contained more than 3,700 incident reports.

Question 3 is a bit of a trick. You’re as much on your own as ever if you buy a laptop and it’s recalled for a flaw such as an overheating battery – as Sony did last year after 30 reports that Vaio laptops had gotten hot enough to deform keyboards or casings. You can watch for news or visit Otherwise, you may learn about a recall only when you call to complain that your lap is getting really hot.

But since last year, the same 2008 law that mandated the CPSC’s new database has also required a new system meant to ensure that parents and others who buy “durable infant and toddler products” – items like cribs, car seats, strollers, and bassinets – learn about recalls before they cause injuries or deaths.

It works like this: If you buy a durable infant or toddler product, it’s supposed to include a card that enables you to register directly with the manufacturer – by mail or online – so the company will know how to reach you. Required in the midst of public furor over products that put kids at needless risk, it’s a special level of protection for products that should be especially trustworthy.


‘Company Doe’

How well are the new systems working? Consumer advocates give them good marks, although some manufacturers continue to push back against the public database – including an anonymous business that recently filed a “Company Doe” lawsuit against the CPSC in a Maryland court.

The company said it would suffer irreparable harm if it and its product were identified in an incident report submitted to the CPSC that said a child had been hurt. Even proceeding in open court would harm the company, it said, which is why it asked that the entire record be sealed.

For obvious reasons, CPSC spokesman Scott Wolfson says he can’t discuss the case, except to say that the agency plans “to pursue a court motion to have this case unsealed.”

Wolfson says that from the agency’s standpoint, the database is working as designed. “It allows you to see what people in your community, or people around the country, have experienced.”

A report this month from the Government Accountability Office suggested one way the database still needs tweaking: making sure products are sufficiently identified in incident reports. A recent amendment to the 2008 law requires the CPSC to obtain a model number, serial number, or photograph of the product; before the amendment, the CPSC had asked for model or serial numbers, but the information was optional, the GAO said.

What about when a company contends that a report contains “materially inaccurate information,” as the GAO said occurred 160 times in the database’s first months? The GAO said, “Most were resolved and published within 10 business days” – the time frame set for initial review.


Public awareness lags

Recent reports by consumer groups highlight both the value of the database and the limits of the registration system, which also draws some industry criticism.

“Our experience with car-seat registrations is that, after a few years, the data became ineffective for consumer outreach, since people in this age range move as family size expands,” Michael Dwyer, executive director of the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association, said via e-mail.

Of course, one problem with registration cards – even when companies offer an online alternative, as this law requires – is of industry’s own making.

Long before the Internet became a primary means of collecting customer data, “warranty registration” cards were used as a subterfuge. Consumers were asked for their income, their hobbies, other products they had bought – information unrelated to the purchase they were registering. Many trained themselves to ignore the cards entirely.

The CPSC and consumer advocates have hoped to combat that with consumer education. But a recent survey of 1,000 adults conducted for the Consumer Federation of America showed mixed results, says Rachel Weintraub, the group’s director of product safety.

Two-thirds of all consumers – and more than 60 percent of those with children under 12 – weren’t aware of the registration-card requirement, Weintraub says.

Another study looked at the initial months of the database and showed once again why the system needed – and may still need – fixing.

The report from Chicago’s Kids in Danger examined more than 400 reports that involved children’s products among 2,432 incident reports posted at before Aug. 4 and found reports of seven product-related deaths that hadn’t been previously disclosed, says Kids in Danger executive director Nancy Cowles.

Most alarming, she says, was that one in seven of the 400 reports involved a product that had previously been recalled, but was still in use. Among them: a May 2010 death in a Graco Quattro stroller finally recalled last year because of a design, changed in 2008, that allowed a toddler’s body to slip through but could entrap his head. At least six children have died in similar models since 2003, she says.

The database, Cowles says, “is being used exactly as intended.”

And, just as expected, it’s shedding new light on real risks.

Consumer Product Safety Commission: Action Needed to Strengthen Identification of Potentially Unsafe Products

GAO-12-30 October 12, 2011


In the wake of increased product recalls in 2007-2008, Congress passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA). Among other things, CPSIA requires the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to establish a database on the safety of consumer products that is publicly available, searchable, and accessible through the CPSC Web site. In response, CPSC launched in March 2011. The Department of Defense and Full Year Continuing Appropriations Act of 2011 requires GAO to report on the data collected by CPSC in its safety information database. This report examines (1) the information required for submitting a report of harm to, (2) the information used to identify the product and to allow CPSC to review manufacturer claims of material inaccuracy in a report of harm, and (3) the length of time CPSC takes to review a manufacturer’s claim that a report contains materially inaccurate information. To do this work, GAO analyzed agency data, regulations, and CPSC program documentation and interviewed CPSC staff and various industry and consumer representatives.

To be eligible for publication on, reports of harm involving a consumer product must contain several types of information, such as descriptions of the product and the associated harm. Reports may be submitted by consumers, government agencies, and health care professionals, among others. GAO’s analysis of CPSC data as of July 7, 2011, showed that 38 percent of the 5,464 reports submitted to CPSC contained information that CPSIA requires for publication. Of these reports, 1,847 were published on Although not required, many submitters appear to have firsthand knowledge of the product–37 percent of published reports stated that the submitter was also the victim, and 24 percent stated that the victim was the child, spouse, parent, or other relative of the submitter. Also, most submitters provided their optional consent for CPSC to release their contact information to the manufacturer. Numeric information, such as a model number or serial number, can be helpful in identifying potentially unsafe products. However, this information is optional rather than required in a report of harm. Instead, submitters must only include a word or phrase sufficient to distinguish the product as one within CPSC’s jurisdiction. All manufacturers we spoke with considered the required information insufficient for identifying products in a report of harm. On August 12, 2011, a new law was signed containing a requirement for CPSC to attempt to obtain the model number or serial number, or a photograph of the product, from submitters who did not provide this information in a report of harm. To meet this requirement, CPSC must identify all reports of harm that do not contain either a model number or a serial number. However, CPSC does not currently analyze its data to identify reports of harm that contain this numeric information. Instead, its method of analysis combines numeric identifiers–model numbers or serial numbers–and less precise text entries, such as product descriptions or names. Furthermore, some submitters include model numbers and serial numbers in other database fields that CPSC does not include in its analysis. Unless CPSC strengthens its analytic methods to identify model numbers or serial numbers in a report of harm, it will likely not be able to identify all reports that require the agency to contact the submitter for more product information because it does not track all reports of harm missing such information. Prior to recent amendments to CPSIA, CPSC had 10 business days from its transmission of a report to the manufacturer in which to publish a report of harm (after the amendments, CPSC has up to 5 additional business days to publish a report when a claim of materially inaccurate information is made or when a report does not contain a model number or serial number). Most reports to which manufacturers responded that were published met the 10-day time frame. Of the 1,085 published reports of harm to which companies responded, 1,020 (94 percent) were published within 10 business days after CPSC notified the company that the report had been submitted. CPSC published 160 reports with claims of materially inaccurate information, and, of these reports, most were resolved and published within 10 business days. CPSC plans to conduct outreach to increase the number of manufacturers registered to receive electronic notifications to yield a more rapid response to its notifications. To effectively implement the recent amendments to CPSIA, GAO recommends that CPSC strengthen the analytic methods used to identify product information in a report of harm. CPSC agreed with GAO’s recommendation. The minority commissioners also raised a number of concerns about the accuracy and usefulness of the new database.


JPMA Issues Statement Regarding Proposed Crib Bumper Regulations in Maryland

September 27, 2011

JPMA, an association dedicated to promoting the safe selection and use of juvenile products, is urging the State of Maryland to adopt regulations consistent with the use of safe, traditional, non-pillow like crib bumper pads.

JPMA is also extremely concerned about the unintended consequences of regulations that restrict products specifically designed for crib use.

“It is very risky behavior to use makeshift bumper pads,” said Michael Dwyer, CAE Executive Director of the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association. “Our fear is that the elimination of bumpers from the marketplace will encourage parents to use towels, adult blankets or pillows as a protective barrier from the hard wooden surface of the crib slats. Instead, the state of  Maryland should adopt safety regulations developed as a result of the ASTM standard setting process, and join JPMA in educating parents on the safe use of traditional bumper pads.”

JPMA continues to promote the need for information and education on safe sleep practices.  JPMA has provided an informational flyer on the safe use of traditional bumper pads which is available for download from , JPMA’s website dedicated to communicating safe sleep practices.

JPMA also has ongoing concern for cities and states that are passing legislation that causes additional confusion for parents and caregivers and is urging Maryland to consider all scientific data on crib bumper pad use.

Properly designed crib bumper pads, when used correctly, can help prevent limb entrapment and head injuries. In 2011, JPMA commissioned a third party review of previous studies of crib bumper pads. Outcomes of the studies that were reviewed by Exponent, a leading engineering and scientific consulting firm providing solutions to complex technical problems, found that there were methodological problems that were apparent in the criteria used to select the incidents included for analysis and in the analytical treatment of other potential contributors.

“JPMA remains fully supportive of safe sleep education and standard development,” said Dwyer. “We are encouraging the state of Marylandto rely on the scientific data on crib bumper pads and adopt the ASTM standard in the state. We believe parents have a right to choose the products they use to care for their baby.”


CPSC Small Biz Ombudsman asks industry for more data!


Louisville —  I attended the opening session with about 70 industry members gathered in a meeting room on Saturday at the ABC Expo to hear an open talk from the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Small Business Ombudsman, Neal Cohen, who outlined the recent and upcoming regulatory changes to our industry as a result of the recently passed law H.R. 2715.
H.R. 2715 is designed to address some of the original content in the Consumer Product Safety Information Act of 2008, including details on lead limits, phthalates, third-party testing and small batch manufacturers.
“It was a very compromised bill – I don’t think anyone was thrilled with it on either side,” said Cohen.
Cohen explained that the conversation is very much in process about how to reduce third party testing costs for manufacturers, and the CPSC is seeking public comment on the issue.

“We need data, data, data, and we need industry knowledge as well,” he said.
Cohen urged industry members to be aware of several upcoming key dates, and reminded audience members that even if they can’t be in Washington, sessions are webcast.
September 28th there is a Commission meeting debating the testing and certification rules.
“If you’re manufacturing products, you need to be familiar with it,” said Cohen.
October 6th there is a round table even with industry to talk about lead and phthalates.
October 26th there is a hearing on alternative testing for small batch manufacturers.
And January 1, 2012 is the date when enforced testing and certification begins; for lead testing, it will be for products manufactured after August 14, 2011, and for phthalates it will be for products manufactured after December 31, 2011.
“(The CPSIA) fundamentally changed the landscape of this industry,” said Cohen. “But at the end of the day, we enforce the laws given to us by Congress.”