Mobile news application in smartphone. Man reading online news on website with cellphone. Person browsing latest articles on the internet. Light from phone screen.There have been several important happenings in May at the CPSC. A quick update for our readers follows:

  1. Leadership

Nancy Beck, a toxicologist formerly with the American Chemistry Council and serving at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has been nominated by President Trump to chair the agency.  While she awaits confirmation, she is serving on the White House Council of Economic Advisers. Her nomination is opposed by some Democrats given controversial positions she has taken on the regulation of PFAS while at EPA and more recent activity under her supervision at the White House with regard to its handling of the CDC‘s recommendations for reopening during the pandemic. Her nomination could be taken up by the Senate shortly.

The current acting chair of the CPSC, Robert Adler, and Commissioner Elliott Kaye recently issued a joint statement in connection with their votes on the Commission’s revisions to the Safety Standard for Handheld Infant Carriers. In the statement, the Commissioners called for ASTM to pay attention to infant sleep products that may fall through the cracks and not yet be covered by any of the specific ASTM standards covering infant sleep environments.

  1. Hearings and Regulatory Activity

Two proposed product safety rules are out for comment, the Safety Standard for Sling Carriers (comment period open until May 20) and the Safety Standard for Crib Bumpers (comments open until June 17).

On May 27, 2020, the CPSC will hold a public hearing on its fiscal year 2021 and 2022 Agenda and Priorities. The hearing allows the Commission to consider whether to make any changes or adjustments to the agency’s proposed or ongoing regulatory and enforcement efforts. The Commission will consider where to dedicate resources, de-emphasize activities, as well as whether to review retrospectively and outdated rules. The commenters have identified the following product safety issues and activities as potential agency priorities:

  • Completing the rule on portable generators and the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning first introduced in 2006
  • Preventing the strangulation hazards posed by corded window coverings
  • Promulgating mandatory standards to prevent death and serious injuries from high powered magnet sets, furniture tip-overs, infant sleep products, other durable infant products and crib bumpers
  • Reducing flame retardants used in consumer products
  • Providing guidance on protecting against the product safety risks posed by Internet connected products
  • Enforcing the Child Nicotine Poisoning Prevention Act
  • Reducing injuries on electric scooters as well as educational activities about safe operation of scooters
  • Addressing counterfeit goods as a safety issue
  • Continuing attention to the CPSC‘s “senior safety initiative“
  • Reviewing incident data on ingestion of liquid laundry packets to determine whether a mandatory standard requiring even further child proofing is necessary
  • Reevaluating the voluntary standard on recreational off-highway vehicles in light of potential fire risks and completing the ATV standard
  • Renewing its emphasis on civil and criminal penalty enforcement
  • Regulating fragrance and propellants in air fresheners
  • Enhancing both the Fast Track recall process and incident and injury data collection through renewed engagement on the retailer reporting program
  • Improving recall effectiveness including, among other ideas, piloting a tiered recall system to elevate awareness of products that pose the greatest risk to consumers and using technology to enhance recall response
  • Allowing garment labels to use digital information
  • Improving the consumer database
  • Enhancing import surveillance using the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Trusted Trader Program
  • Increasing the number of estimated death and injury reports as well as more timely issuance of the annual estimated death and injury report for playgrounds and other products where reports have not been updated since 2017
  • Aligning with the priorities of the Australian product safety regulators many of which overlap with other suggestions outlined above
  1. Enforcement

The beginning of 2020 has seen the continuation of an uptick in the number of regulated product recalls, with a significant number of Poison Prevention Packaging Act recalls for failure to childproof essential oils and other products requiring those packaging protections. Likewise, the number of lead paint and lead content recalls in children’s products appears to be higher over the same four month period when compared to recalls in recent years. Burn hazards and furniture tip-over appear to top the list in terms of recall activity due to product defects.

  1. In other news (at other agencies)

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has issued a proposed rule on increasing the recreational opportunities at parks and other lands managed by the BLM through the use of electric bikes.  Comments on that proposal are due by June 9, 2020.

EPA has issued a notice of proposed rulemaking related to “strengthening transparency and regulatory science.” Over 50,000 commenters have weighed in on this proposal which suggests a modified approach to the public availability provisions for data and models underlying both pivotal science and pivotal regulatory science. The rule would establish a procedure for an agency-wide approach to handling studies when the data and models underlying EPA’s significant regulatory decisions and influential scientific information are publicly available and when those data and models are not publicly available. While this is an EPA-proposed internal rule, the decisions EPA makes on chemical risks can have relevance to CPSC decisions under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act (FHSA), and therefore, this rule is worth watching.