Delay and Secrecy

How Section 6(b) of the Consumer Product Safety Act Keeps Consumers in the Dark

By Remington A. Gregg

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The Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA) was enacted in 1972 to protect the public against injury from a wide range of consumer products, and also created the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the nation’s chief consumer product safety agency.

When the CPSC seeks to release information about product safety hazards in which the public can readily identify the product’s manufacturer, it must first notify the company and allow it to agree to the release of that information. This process, detailed in Section 6(b) of the CPSA, is laborious and time-consuming for the agency. More importantly, it delays the release of critical safety information to consumers. No other health and safety federal regulator has a similar process that gives companies an effective veto on the information the regulator releases.

Recent events have shown that Section 6(b) has contributed to a delay in releasing information that has unfortunately resulted in injury and death. The CPSC cannot effectively carry out its mission as the nation’s chief product safety watchdog with Section 6(b)’s constraints.

Public Citizen is formally calling for the repeal of Section 6(b).