Markey Champions Creating Public Database of Flawed, Defective or Unsafe Products

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Edward J. Markey (D-MA), a senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, today pressed the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to account for unacceptably long delays between when the CPSC becomes aware of faulty and potentially dangerous products, and when they release the information to the unsuspecting public.

Rep. Markey said, "The public has a right to know when the products they buy every day have potentially dangerous defects. When a television bursts into flames, setting fires that killed two children, the public should know about the danger immediately, not five years later."

Markey's letter highlights two cases of the CPSC learning of a dangerous product years before the public was informed. In 2000, the CPSC learned of intestinal injuries sustained by children who swallowed powerful magnets in Magnetix toys. But it took about seven years - after numerous complaints, emergency surgeries and one death - for the CPSC to finally issue a broad recall of the products.

In 1998, Zenith engineers discovered a flaw in projection TVs that caused a fire in an Alaska home, resulting in the death of two children. While the company agreed to a ‘silent' recall to retailers and current owners of the TVs that did not go out to the general public, the CPSC did not issue a public recall until 2003, and even then it asserted that "no injuries were reported" from defective TVs.

Markey's letter asks specifically about the Zenith Projection TV incident, about the number and purpose of other "silent recalls" CPSC has issued, and for the number of reports of serious injury, illness or death, or risk of serious injury, illness or death, that were alleged to have been caused by unsafe, defective or flawed products the CPSC received in the last five years.

"We already have online databases for complaints filed about cars, car-seats, automotive equipment or tires compiled by the Department of Transportation. The Food and Drug Administration has several publicly searchable databases to find out whether there have been problems with particular drugs or medical products. Why not the CPSC so consumers and assess the safety of the products they are buying? I offered an amendment to create such a CPSC database during legislative debate in December and will continue my efforts as Congress continues to negotiate CPSC reform legislation," added Rep. Markey.

During a December 2007 House Energy and Commerce committee markup of H.R. 4040, the Consumer Product Safety Modernization Act, Rep. Markey offered an amendment to require the CPSC to create a publicly searchable database that would allow consumers to access specific reports CPSC obtains from consumers, doctors, hospitals or manufacturers of serious injury, illness or death, or risk of serious injury illness or death that may be due to a faulty or unsafe product. The amendment was not adopted, but a version of the language is likely to be included in the CPSC reauthorization legislation being voted on shortly by the United States Senate.


A copy of Rep. Markey's letter can be found below. ###