Sunday, March 23, 2008

Bush Administration And Toy Industry Work Together To Keep Toxic Toys In American Stores

The Bush Administration has actively worked along with lobbyists and toy industry retailer organizations to keep higher levels of toxic substances in toys sold in the United States than in the EU, and the Bush Administration has even worked with toy industry lobbyists to unsuccessfully pressure the EU to reduce safety standards for toys sold there as well. Bush Administration, appointee as Acting Chairman Of U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Nancy Nord, has also limited the number of federal toy safety inspectors to just one, and she has even accepted some expensive travel paid for by the toy industry.

Nord was the former head federal public relations executive at Eastman Kodak Company, a company that has been blamed for dioxin and other releases into water supplies before. In New York state, Kodak is the number one corporate polluter in the state having released more than 4.4 million tons of chemicals in the water or air. Environmentalists rate Eastman Kodak as the fifth worst corporate polluter in the entire United States. Nord's role was to give a good public image to all of this and attempt to stave off any problems with federal regulators.

Because the Bush Administration's appointee as CPSC head, Nord, has so limited the number of federal toy safety inspectors, many states or independent labs have been forced to do the federal government's work to protect children from toys containing high levels of toxic chemicals that could potentially endanger children. However, in one recent case after an independent lab found elevated levels of lead, chromium and cadmium in some of the toys sold at Wal-Mart, Wal-Mart threatened a lawsuit to quiet down the independent lab's results and attempt to stop any potential state regulation of some toys sold in some of their stores. Right now 11 states have some form of efforts to offer stronger consumer safety protection or proposals for new legislation that are stronger than the weaker consumer protection standards offered under the Bush Administration.

It is certainly a conflict of interest when the acting head of consumer protection in the U.S., Nancy Nord works along with lobbyists or organizations run by the toy industry to keep less safe toys on American store shelves in the U.S. than in Europe. In fact, it is something of a toy industry secret that many major American toy manufacturers who have manufacturing plants set up in China, have two seperate toy lines that they produce the same products. One production line produces more safe versions of a toy to be sold in the EU, while another manufacturing line in the same plants also produces a less safe version of the same toy to be sold in the United States.

Some toy importers have even sometimes replaced more expensive nontoxic chemicals found in glue such as 1,5 pentanedial which costs around $9,700 per metric ton with a much cheaper toxic chemical, 1,4 butanedial which only costs about $1,350 per metric ton. The problem with substituting the toxic chemical for the nontoxic one is only that it can result in coma and death for a child if ingested. And elevated levels of lead can cause reproductive damage and other serious injuries to children as well. Nord has been very slow to act on many consumer complaint's of lead problems in some toys, keeping many potentially unsafe toys on American store shelves.

It is sort of ironic that Mr. Bush who is also the first MBA to become president, whose main political philosophy is build on opposition to more government regulation as a way to allow business more economic freedom and to soar with profits in the U.S. is also leading this nation into a serious recession and other economic problems such as a falling currency value while the EU with much stricter safety regulations on industry is now the world's largest economy with a currency far stronger than the U.S. dollar right now. Apparently the Bush Administration efforts to allow the toy industry more profits and freedom to sometimes kill and main American children have done little to strengthen the American economy. Mr. Bush has delegated the dirty work to weaken consumer safety by appointing former executives who represent some of the worst corporate polluters such as Nord to head major agencies under his watch.

My own personal experience with the main federal consumer agency has not been very good either with the Bush Administration. Several years ago, I purchased a digital camera which had a terrific unexpected battery explosion after some strange problem suddenly developed with the battery. It caused a small fire in the house and burned my hands and clothes. I first complained to the manufacturer than I was injured by their product, but the company at first told me to shut or they'd sue me. Then after I called again, the company president spoke to me only after I promised legal action with the state attorney general, but wanted me to surrender them the camera, which was the only evidence I had to present to the federal government for possible safety testing. Under Bush, the CPSC agency took months to act, and only sent out a letter to me as a receipt of my submitted safety complaint and never sought to test or remove these dangerous and defective digital cameras from the market. I never received any compensation for the fire damage to my home or clothes, or any payment for my burns from the digital camera producer as well. Thousands more consumers were allowed to purchase the same camera with no effort by the Bush Administration's consumer agency to be sure that a serious safety defect that could cause battery explosion and fire did not exist in many more copies of these same cameras.

Based on my own personal experience, the Bush Administration simply doesn't consider a product that suddenly and unexpectedly explodes and causes fire and burns as serious enough to take some action. This is the same administration that is supposed to safeguard your children?


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