Statement of Rachel Weintraub, Assistant General Counsel, in Response to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission's Unanimous Vote to Move Forward on Mandatory Safety Standards for Baby Bath Seats

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contacts:
Rachel Weintraub, (202) 387-6121

In July 2000, Consumer Federation of America (CFA) petitioned the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) urging CPSC to ban baby bath seats because these products, intended for use by children, are hazardous. According to CPSC, from January 1983 to July 2003 there have been 104 deaths and 162 non-fatal incidents caused by baby bath seats. CPSC did not vote to ban baby bath seats, but rather voted to move forward with a mandatory safety standard.

CFA continues to believe that baby bath seats should be banned. Baby bath seats cannot be designed in such a way as to adequately reduce the risk of injury to children nor can a design or performance standard adequately reduce the false perception of safety that these products mistakenly instill in the parents and caregivers who use them.

The CPSC's vote, while not a ban, is still an important and necessary step forward. If CPSC had voted to abandon rulemaking today, it would have led to tragic consequences for American consumers, especially children.

Importantly, the 3-0 vote today by Chairman Stratton, Commissioner Gall, and Commissioner Moore to move forward with rulemaking implicitly acknowledges that these products are hazardous and that the voluntary standard has failed to curb injuries and deaths associated with baby bath seats.

CFA urges parents to remove baby bath seats from their homes immediately. Every bath a young child takes while using a bath seat is a potential drowning hazard that should be avoided. Parents should never leave a baby unattended while in the bath.

To best protect consumers from these hazards, however, baby bath seats that do not meet the new standards should be recalled. CPSC should also create and aggressively pursue an educational campaign for parents alerting them to the fact that they should never leave their child unattended while using a baby bath seat, and recommending that they remove the older bath seats from their homes. Commissioner Moore made this important point in his statement. In addition, Commissioner Moore pointed out the inadequacy of the proposed warning label to deal with the problem of children coming out of the bath seat. We applaud his statements on both accounts and urge the Commission, as it moves forward with this rulemaking, to make the standard as strong and effective as possible.

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Consumer Federation of America is a non-profit association of 300 consumer groups, with a combined membership of more than 50 million people. CFA was founded in 1968 to advance the consumers' interest through advocacy and education. www.consumerfed.org