Several toys imported into the U.S. did not undergo satisfactory safety checks for around six months, according to a USA Today investigative report.
In a decision by the agency’s leaders, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) withdrew federal safety inspectors, including those who usually check for “lead, chemicals or choking hazards” in toys, from ports across the country mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as “princess palaces, playhouses, water-guns and tricycles” entered stores and reached doorsteps, the report says. (RELATED: Congressional Report: Manufacturers Misled Consumers, Booster Seats Pose Head And Neck Risk To Children)
Government officials decided in secret to pull toy inspectors from the ports for months. Thousands of shipments that should have been checked for deadly lead or choking hazards landed on your doorstep or store aisles. https://t.co/Z4SCSdszax— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) December 11, 2020
Consumers weren’t notified nor did Congress receive “full disclosure,” as the “shutdown” lasted until September in the nation’s ports, USA Today reported.
During the coronavirus shutdowns between April and September, the CPSC issued a fourth of the violations it did the same time in 2019, according to USA Today. “The CPSC did not flag a single toy at the ports between June and July for poisonous lead levels, one of the most frequent violations, internal records show,” the report states.
Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, who is part of a subcommittee overseeing the agency, said he was unaware of the CPSC’s “dormant months” until USA Today reached out to him; he vowed to “hold hearings to demand an explanation,” USA Today reported.
CPSC inspectors, dubbed as ‘Toy Police’ by USA Today, are charged with intercepting policy-violating “toys and other household products” before markets obtain them, according to USA Today. Along with the ASTM F15.22 Toy Safety Subcommittee, CPSC staff “address” problems relating to toy safety” including “flammability,” “jaw entrapment,” and, “noise-emission,” the agency’s website states.
The entire report of the investigation, which made use of some of the agency’s documents and records that USA Today obtained, can be accessed here.