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Lawmakers Agree On Consumer Product Safety Bill

New law would impose a nationwide ban on children's products containing lead beyond minute amounts, and ban chemicals in plastic that can cause health problems.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- House and Senate lawmakers reached agreement Monday on legislation to ensure that children's toys are not contaminated with lead and phthalates, require mandatory testing of children's products and increase funding for the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The legislation was a response to a spate of incidents involving unsafe products from China and elsewhere and concerns that the commission lacked the staff and money to keep hazardous products off store shelves.

The compromise bill could come up for a House vote this week. Senate agreement would send it to President Bush for his expected signature.

"This legislation adds new layers of protections for consumers. It boosts resources and authority at the CPSC, improves oversight and disclosure and raises safety standards on the thousands of products entering the marketplace every day," said Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., a main sponsor.

Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, top Republican on the House Commerce Committee, said the bill "makes it dramatically more certain that toys aren't tested for safety by kids on the living room floor before they're tested in a lab by experts."

The measure requires third party testing of certain children's products and gives the CPSC authority to inspect manufacturers' labs not open to the public.

It would impose a nationwide ban on children's products containing lead beyond minute amounts, and ban, either permanently or temporarily, most phthalates -- chemicals in plastic that can cause health problems -- in children's toys and products.

The bill also requires the CPSC to adopt safety standards on all-terrain vehicles.

The commission would see a gradual increase in funding, from $118 million in fiscal year 2010 to $136 million in 2014, and would increase penalties for violations of CPSC statutes.

The commission is also directed to establish within two years a searchable database to include any reports of injuries, illness, death or risk related to consumer products submitted by consumers, government offices, physicians or child care providers.

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