consumer products

Law
1:12 pm
Wed September 17, 2014

Meijer to pay $2 million for preventing sale of recalled products

A sign for a Meijer store in Ann Arbor.
Credit user Monika & Tim / Flickr

Michigan-based retailer Meijer Inc. will pay $2 million to settle charges that it failed to prevent the sale and distribution of products recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

In the settlement, the CPSC says Meijer knowingly distributed more than 1,600 units of about a dozen recalled products. The recalled products were distributed by a third party contractor working for Meijer.

From the settlement:

CPSC staff charges that beginning in or about April 2010, and including until at least in or about April 2011, Meijer received information from the third party contractor regarding the sale of all products handled by its third party contractor but failed to prevent the distribution of the Recalled Products.

The products that were recalled included Fisher-Price toddler tricycles, high chairs by Graco Children's Products, Hoover vacuums and box fans by Lasko.

You can see a list of the recalled items here.

It's against the law to sell or distribute products that have been recalled.

In agreeing to the settlement, Meijer "neither admits nor denies the charges."

More from the settlement language:

Meijer believed that adequate safeguards were in place to prevent Recalled Products from being distributed into commerce and states that any distribution of the Recalled Products was inadvertent and occurred without Meijer's knowledge.

*Correction - an earlier post with the Associated Press byline stated that Meijer sold and distributed the recalled products. A third party contractor that Meijer works with sold and distributed the products. The copy has been updated.

Environment
10:35 am
Tue December 13, 2011

Flame retardant chemicals show up in air around Great Lakes region

Researchers at Indiana University have discovered two new kinds of flame retardant chemicals showing up in the air around the Great Lakes. These chemicals are added to polyurethane foam to help keep furniture and baby products from catching on fire.

They’re replacing other flame retardants called PBDEs that have been linked to neurological and developmental defects, and fertility and reproductive problems.

These newer chemicals are called brominated benzylates and brominated phthalates.

Ron Hites is an author of the study. His team found the chemicals in air samples from six sites around the Great Lakes... from Chicago to the remote Eagle Harbor in the Upper Peninsula. But he says it’s not clear yet what this might mean.

“We have very limited toxicology and virtually no information on ecological effects.”

Hites says one study suggests these chemicals can cause DNA damage in fish.

He says the concentrations of the chemicals in the atmosphere appear to be doubling every year or two in the Great Lakes region.

So how do you know if a product has flame retardants in it?

Experts say there's no way to know just by looking at a couch or car seat or baby changing pad whether it has flame retardant chemicals in it, but they say generally, if it has polyurethane foam and a label indicating it meets CA TB 117 (a California flammability standard that companies often meet by adding flame retardant chemicals), there's a very high probability the product contains flame retardants.

In a publication from the National Institutes of Health, Heather Stapleton, PhD says:

"I don't think we know much at all about the potential human health effects from exposure to these chemicals. What we do know is that infants are likely receiving more exposure to these chemicals than adults. Therefore, more research is warranted to determine if this exposure is leading to any adverse health effects."

The American Chemistry Council stands by the use of flame retardants.

But some scientists say these chemicals pose unnecessary risks.  The Green Science Policy Institute says many types of halogenated flame retardant chemicals are "persistent, bio-accumulative and toxic." The group has put out some guidelines for consumers.

You can learn more from The Environment Report's five part series on flame retardants.