Consumer Protection

Safeguarding Against Lead Exposure

Exposure to lead in children under age six –and to pregnant women—is a grave health threat.  According to the National Safety Council, lead is a powerful neurotoxin that interferes with the development of the brain and the central nervous system in young children.  There is widespread recognition that there is no such thing as a “safe” level of lead exposure. Recent news of numerous recalls of toys that posed a danger to kids from lead paint resulted in important consumer product safety legislation that has now passed the House. It includes eliminating lead from children’s products, expanding to age 12 the requirement for mandatory testing and certification for children’s products and it strengthens the Consumer Product Safety Commission by giving it the power to immediately share information about dangerous products with the public.

Utahns have concerns about the presence of lead in ceramic dishes.  Tests by Utah health department labs show lead content in dishes that exceeds the federal standard.  Nursing mothers who prepared and served food using those dishes inadvertently passed it on to their babies.  When comprehensive food safety legislation moves forward, it should include Matheson’s proposal to require a warning label for ceramic dishes and other food containers to alert consumers to possible lead content.

Enforcing Video Game Ratings

Too many children are spending too much time playing inappropriate video games that most parents would find shocking and objectionable. A 2005 Federal Trade Commission report found that 42% of unaccompanied 13-16 year-olds were able to purchase “Mature(M)” rated games from retailers, even though the M-rating is for those 17 and older.  While parents are the first line of defense against children playing adult-themed games, parents can’t be everywhere monitoring everything. Some reasonable, common sense rules should be in place to support parents.  Matheson has introduced bipartisan legislation that requires all retailers to check ID from any child trying to buy or rent M-rated or Adult Only (AO) rated games.  The measure requires that ratings system explanations be posted in stores so that parents can make informed decisions before purchasing or renting a game for their children. Fines could be levied by the Federal Trade Commission against violators.

Keeping Kids Safe Online

The Internet is a powerful, exciting, indispensible educational development for our families. But the dark side of our technological advances is the way criminals—in horrifying numbers-- are able to use them to prey on children.  Parents are the first line of defense with respect to keeping their children safe on line.  But law enforcement professionals and others have documented that the pornography industry is actively marketing objectionable content to children. An increasing variety of tools are available to parents seeking to protect their kids –both on their home computer and elsewhere. Click on this link to learn how you can add another layer of protection, through a free program implemented by the State of Utah.