Question of the Week

May 5, 2003

Do you have a product in your house that has been recalled?
How would you know?

Just skimming the hundreds of recalled items on the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) website can be overwhelming--and that doesn't even cover all recalls.

"The Consumer Product Safety Commission has jurisdiction over about 15,000 types of consumer products, from coffee makers, to toys, to lawn mowers, to fireworks. However, some types of consumer products are covered by other Federal agencies. For example, automobiles, trucks and motorcycles are within the jurisdiction of the Department of Transportation; food, drugs (except for child resistant-packaging for these products), and cosmetics are covered by the Food and Drug Administration. Such product types and certain situations are presented below, along with links to the appropriate Federal agencies; some other Federal consumer links are provided as well."

High profile recalls of cars and baby products occasionally make the news, but most new recalls rarely make the headlines. With so many recalls and product concerns (the majority of which don't apply to you or anything in your house), it can seem quite overwhelming to attempt to find those that do apply.

Apparently, too many people have found sifting through all the information to be not worth the effort. This past week, a CPSC press release did make the news.

"NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is urging the public to inspect their homes for nine categories of dangerous recalled products that lead to dozens of deaths every year, especially among children.... Giles says there are 23,000 deaths and about 31 million injuries related to consumer products every year, but not all result in recalls or safety standards. Fires and falls in the home -- particularly among the elderly -- contribute to a large chunk of these numbers."

The CPSC is concerned.

"CPSC Says Deadly Products Are Still In Use Despite Warnings and Recalls;
Agency Releases 'Most Hazardous' List and Urges Home Inspections

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Despite recall notices and warnings, consumers continue to use products that have the potential to seriously injure or kill, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The CPSC today unveiled a list of many common hazardous consumer products and urged consumers to use the list to check their homes and destroy or fix unsafe products. 'These products have previously received substantial attention because they were recalled or addressed by safety standards. But they continue to be used each year, leading to deaths, injuries, and property damage,' said CPSC Chairman Hal Stratton. 'These products may be in any home. They may be sold at yard sales or donated to charity or thrift shops. Some of them can be fixed, but most simply need to be destroyed,' he said."

The CPSC gets the information out to the media through press releases and out to the public through their website and email notifications. The media pick up some of these notifications and pass those on to the public, but there are so many--and so many that apply to such a narrow population--that the media chooses broader topics on which to focus. Many stores post notices for current recalls, but those only apply to current items for that store. Members of the public often research products when purchasing, but after the purchase has been made, the research is finished.

Question of the Week:
What steps should members of the public, members of the media, stores, and the CPSC be expected to take in order to get unsafe products out of homes? What more can be done to keep unsafe products from making it onto the market? What can people do to assure that the products they use are safe?

For those who are interested, there is an "On-line Form for CPSC Subscription Lists This form allows you to subscribe or unsubscribe to CPSC's email subscription lists (we have prepared a detailed description of our list system to help you make the best subscription choice)."

Please email me with any ideas or suggestions.
Note: Due to increasing amounts of SPAM sent to this account, please include "QOW" in the subject line when sending me email.

I look forward to reading what you have to say.

Health Community Coordinator
Access Excellence @ the National Health Museum

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