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CPSC Requires Child-Resistant Packaging for Common Household Products Containing Hydrocarbons, Including Some Baby Oils

Release Date: October 16, 2002

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) voted unanimously today to require child-resistant packaging for some common household products and cosmetics containing hydrocarbons that can poison children. This safety standard will help prevent injuries and deaths to children under 5 years of age who swallow and aspirate certain oily liquids containing hydrocarbons. When these products enter the lungs, chemical pneumonia can develop and cause death.

Examples of household products and cosmetics covered by the new packaging regulation include some baby oils; sunscreens; nail enamel dryers; hair oils; bath, body and massage oils; makeup removers; some automotive chemicals (gasoline additives, fuel injection cleaners, carburetor cleaners); cleaning solvents (wood oil cleaners, metal cleaners, spot removers, adhesive removers); some water repellents containing mineral spirits used for decks, shoes, and sports equipment; general-use household oil; and gun-cleaning solvents containing kerosene.

If these products contain 10 percent or more hydrocarbons by weight and have a low viscosity (i.e., are "watery"), they will have to be in child-resistant packaging. Thicker products are less likely to be aspirated.

"We know that child-resistant packaging saves lives," said CPSC Chairman Ann Brown. "But since the packaging is child-resistant, not child-proof, parents also need to keep baby oil and other potentially poisonous substances locked up out of reach of young children."

CPSC is aware of five fatalities of children under 5 years old from 1993 to date involving aspiration of hydrocarbon products. CPSC data for 1997 through 1999 revealed an estimated 6,400 emergency room visits involving children under 5 years of age who ingested household chemical products that frequently contain hydrocarbons that can pose an aspiration hazard. In addition, data from the American Association of Poison Control Centers for 1993 through 1999 revealed 11,115 potential aspiration exposures to cosmetic and household products containing hydrocarbons.

The most recent fatality of which CPSC is aware occurred in May of this year after 16-month-old Jaiden Bryson of Bakersfield, Calif., aspirated a baby oil product. Chairman Brown dedicated the new safety standard to Jaiden.

The new poison prevention packaging for affected products containing hydrocarbons must be in use in 12 months.

Examples of hydrocarbon-containing products covered by new poison prevention packaging:

Cosmetics - some:  
Baby oilsSunscreensNail enamel dryers
Hair oilsBath oilsMakeup removers
Body oilsMassage oils 

Automotive chemicals - some:  
Gasoline additivesFuel injection cleanersCarburetor cleaners

Cleaning solvents - some:  
Wood oil cleanersMetal cleanersAdhesive removers
Spot removersGeneral-use household oilsGun cleaning solvents
containing kerosene
And - some:  
Water repellents containing mineral spirits used for decks, shoes, and sports equipment


Statement of the Honorable Ann Brown, Chairman Supporting a Final Rule for Child Resistant Packaging for Substances Containing Hydrocarbons

October 16, 2001

I voted today in favor of two final rules to require child-resistant packaging for some common household products and cosmetics containing hydrocarbons. Hydrocarbons are usually oily substances that can kill or permanently injure children if they are aspirated into the lungs. These household products are common in the home, and they have the capacity to kill children.

From 1997 to 1999 there have been 6,400 emergency room visits including children under five years of age who ingested household products that frequently contain hydrocarbons. When a child aspirates a large amount of one of these substances into the lungs, there is not much a doctor can do. They can cause a pneumonia-like condition, irreversible and permanent lung damage, disability and even death. Medical science has found no method yet for safely removing these oily substances from the lungs. It is estimated that it would only cost half a penny to 2 cents per package to make these products child-resistant.

Isn't a child's life worth two cents?

Five children have died since 1993 from drinking and then aspirating these products that contain hydrocarbons - three of them from baby oil. The most recent death happened in May when a 16-month old California boy, Jaiden Bryson, drank baby oil, while his father prepared dinner.

On May 2 in the early evening, all five of the Bryson children were at home, including Jaiden and his 16-month old twin brother, who were playing, as their dad, Charles, prepared dinner. Suddenly, Charles heard Jaiden cry out. He immediately ran into the living room and found Jaiden with baby oil all over his face, clothes and the carpeting. One of the twins had climbed up on a shelf and tipped a basket of products off. Jaiden grabbed the baby oil and drank it. The nest day, Jaiden appeared to be very sick - panting for air and breathing very heavily. Mrs. Bryson took Jaiden to her pediatrician's office. Jaiden was then rushed by ambulance to the hospital with a 103-degree fever. Little Jaiden ended up in intensive care. He was put on a ventilator, where he remained for 28 days. On May 30, Jaiden died. The death certificate listed aspiration of baby oil as the cause of death. This seemingly innocuous baby oil caused pneumonia and irreversible lung damage to an innocent 16-month old child.

Our mission is to see that no other child dies like Jaiden died. Therefore, I am dedicating this rule in honor of Jaiden Bryson - "The Jaiden Bryson Hydrocarbon Rule." We can do no less.

There are two proposed rules. The first rule would apply to a wide range of common cleaning solvents such as: specialty cleaners; adhesive removers; spot removers; wood oil cleaners; floor cleaners; metal cleaners; and gun cleaning solvents containing kerosene. It would also apply to automotive chemicals such as: gasoline additives; fuel injector cleaners; carburetor cleaners; and tire dressings. The rule would also cover some water repellants like those used for decks, shoes, and sports equipment. The second rule would cover some cosmetics including certain baby oils; sunscreens; hair oils; makeup removers; body oils; bath oils; and nail enamel dryers.

We know that child-resistant packaging saves lives. But since the packaging is child-resistant, not childproof, parents also need to keep baby oil and other potentially poisonous substances locked up and out of the touch of children.



Today, I join my fellow Commissioners in voting to issue the final rule to require child-resistant packaging for low-viscosity liquid hydrocarbons. I have done so because I believe that the information that has been provided by our staff sufficiently supports their recommendation to issue the final rule.

To issue a final rule under the PPPA, this Commission must make certain findings. First and foremost, we must find that there are potentially serious consequences to the availability of a substance to children, that the availability must be by reason of its packaging, and that special packaging is required to protect children from the serious consequences of that substance's availability. Additionally, the Commission must find that child-resistant packaging is technically feasible, practicable, and appropriate for products that fall within the scope of the regulation.

I think that the Commission staff has done an excellent job of determining what properties of a product lead to an aspiration hazard and then defining which products contain those properties. In addition, the Commission staff has provided clear evidence that young children are exposed to these products and that aspirations have occurred as a result of that exposure. In voting to issue this final rule today, the Commission extends important protective measures to a range of products that we have clearly determined to be potentially dangerous to vulnerable young children.

However, simply providing products in CR packaging cannot, by itself, completely remove the risk of a product being ingested and aspirated by young children. Parents and caregivers must be cognizant of the potential harm that these products present and must be vigilant in providing the proper supervision when these products are present in a child's environment. I am absolutely certain that these steps taken together will prevent future serious accidents from occurring.


October 16, 2001

Today I voted in favor of a final rule under the Poison Prevention Packaging Act (PPPA) requiring that certain substances containing hydrocarbons be placed in child-resistant (CR) packaging. The data developed by the staff amply demonstrates that the criteria of the PPPA for requiring CR packaging for these substances have been met. Placing hydrocarbons in CR packaging will help to reduce the number of accidental ingestions, especially of substances that people have little reason to suspect of being hazardous, such as baby oil.

Child-resistant packaging of any substance is, however, only the "last line of defense" against accidental ingestions of harmful substances. The incidents investigated by the staff showed examples of where substances distributed in CR packaging had been placed by consumers in non-CR packaging and subsequently ingested by children. The staff also uncovered ingestions where a CR package had been left open. No CR packaging will fulfill its intended purpose unless the harmful substance is kept in CR packaging and the CR closure used.

Adults who keep substances that may harm children should store them where children will not have access to them. Such substances should not be removed from CR packaging until they are used, and the CR features should be reengaged whenever the product is put away. Finally, all parents and caregivers should keep the telephone number of a poison control center handy so that competent advice can be sought if an ingestion does occur. This combination of handling and packaging should reduce both the number and the severity of children's poisonings.

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About the U.S. CPSC
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risk of injury or death associated with the use of thousands of types of consumer products. Deaths, injuries, and property damage from consumer product-related incidents cost the nation more than $1 trillion annually. CPSC's work to ensure the safety of consumer products has contributed to a decline in the rate of injuries associated with consumer products over the past 50 years. 

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