WASHINGTON — President Bush on Thursday signed consumer-safety legislation that bans lead from children’s toys, imposing the toughest standard in the world.
The new law prohibits lead, beyond minute levels, in products for children 12 or younger. Lead paint was a major factor in the recall of 45 million toys and children’s items last year, many from China.
Both houses of Congress approved the bill by overwhelming margins two weeks ago.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates there are about 28,000 deaths each year linked to unsafe products, including toys, in the United States. More than 33 million people were injured last year by consumer products.
The bill also bans a chemical called phthalates that is widely used to make plastic products softer and more flexible.
And the legislation bolsters the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which took the brunt of criticism last year over the massive recalls and the government’s failure to monitor toy imports before they reach store shelves.
The bill would double the agency’s budget, to $136 million by 2014, and give it new authority to oversee testing procedures and to penalize violators.\
White House spokesman Tony Fratto said the measure will give the regulating agencies the money they need to enforce the law. “This has become an increasingly difficult and complex job as more imports from more nations are now sold in the United States than ever before,” he said.
Shares of toy makers mainly rose after Bush signed the legislation. The new law could lead to higher costs for toy makers — already under pressure from rising raw material and fuel costs — if they must foot the bill for more lead-testing procedures.
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