Senate Passes Pryor's Measures to Improve Consumer Product Oversight
The Senate today accepted Senator Mark Pryor's amendment to strengthen and revitalize the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) as part of the Fiscal Year 2008 Budget Resolution. His amendment calls for an additional $10 million annually to maintain current staff levels, improve antiquated testing facilities and increase CPSC agents at major U.S. ports of entry. In addition, the Senate passed his amendment to increase funding for nanotechnology research and development to address potential environmental and safety hazards that may exist.
"The CPSC resources and capabilities are not in step with the 21st century, yet this agency's oversight is critical to every family," Pryor said. "In passing my measure, the Senate showed its commitment to renew this agency's bite and to protect kids and consumers from unreasonably dangerous products."
Earlier this week, Pryor chaired a Consumer Affairs Subcommittee hearing to discuss the CPSC's budget and effectiveness. He concluded that limits in the Commission's authority and funding in recent years have curtailed the Commission's ability to carry out its mission. He added these cuts have led to antiquated laboratory facilities, staff shortages and overall weakened effectiveness. For example, at the time of its inception, it had 786 full time employees and was responsible for the safety of 10,000 consumer products. Today, it has responsibility for over 15,000 consumer products, but only 420 full time employees. At the same time, domestic and imported consumer products have grown exponentially and are becoming more complex.
The Senate's budget resolution also includes Pryor's amendment to increase funding by $40 million for the National Nanotechnology Initiative for the environmental, health, and safety (EHS) research and development program. Pryor said there is growing concern within the nanotechnology community about new products entering the market without environmental or health testing. The CPSC is likely to play an instrumental role in properly guiding this process.
"Nanotechnology has extraordinary potential, however we must be sure to harness it in a safe and effective manner," Pryor said. "From lotions to wrinkle resistant pants, it's important that we make sure these products utilizing nanotechnology are safe for consumers."