WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Chairman Inez Tenenbaum announced today the recipients of her 3rd annual Chairman’s Circle of Commendation Award. The five awardees were chosen for their significant, lifesaving contributions to consumer product safety, in the United States and around the world.
“It is my honor to recognize these selfless, dedicated individuals and high-achieving standards setting organizations. Their research, advocacy and commitment to advancing the cause of consumer protection have resulted in safer homes, both nationally and internationally. The lives they have saved are untold,” said Chairman Tenenbaum.
The Chairman’s Commendation Award was created by Chairman Tenenbaum in 2011 to identify and honor people, organizations, businesses, state and local governments and other groups who have worked to reduce deaths, prevent injuries and improve consumer product safety.
At an awards ceremony today at CPSC headquarters in Bethesda, Md., the Chairman announced this year’s recipients of the Circle of Commendation Award:
- Dr. Joshua Sharfstein – Dr. Sharfstein is Maryland’s Secretary of Health and Mental Hygiene. Previously, he was principal deputy commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Health Commissioner of Baltimore, Maryland. Throughout his public service career, Dr. Sharfstein has worked to promote public health and reduce injuries from unsafe products. His efforts in consumer product safety include leading a petition that spurred the removal from the market of over-the-counter cough and cold medications for children under age 4, investigating the lead levels of toys in Baltimore, which resulted in CPSC re-announcing recalls of trinkets with high levels of lead and adding additional lead-tainted products to the recall list. In September 2010, Dr. Sharfstein and Chairman Tenenbaum partnered together on a public warning from FDA and CPSC advising parents to stop using infant sleep positioners, which led to the products being removed from almost all store shelves. Due to his leadership, Maryland became the first state to ban the sale of crib bumpers in June 2013. Dr. Sharfstein’s actions have vastly improved the safety of children in the U.S.
- Dr. Toby Litovitz – Dr. Litovitz is the Executive and Medical Director of the National Capital Poison Center, which she founded in 1980. She is also a Professor of Emergency Medicine at Georgetown University and Clinical Professor of Emergency Medicine at The George Washington University. From 1984 through 2005, she coordinated the Toxic Exposure Surveillance System (now called the National Poison Data System), the nation’s only poisoning surveillance database. She also served as Executive Director of the American Association of Poison Control Centers from 1994 to 2004. Dr. Litovitz published a nationally-recognized series of papers on button/coin cell battery ingestions and has spearheaded several consumer awareness campaigns warning of the lethality of button/coin cell batteries. Her research and advocacy have led to the development of stronger product warnings on button/coin cell batteries; improvements in icons to better show the hazard; stronger warnings on electronics and packaging; increased security on battery enclosures for remote controls and other battery-powered products; and child-resistant packaging for individual and multi-pack coin cell batteries. Her research has also led to several consumer product voluntary standards being revised to address battery ingestion hazards.
- Carol Pollack-Nelson, Ph.D. – Carol Pollack-Nelson is an expert Human Factors psychologist, who has worked in the consumer safety field since 1982. From 1988 through 1993, she served as a senior engineering psychologist at CPSC. Since then, she has been the President of Independent Safety Consulting, in Rockville, Md., and is the current President of the International Consumer Product Health and Safety Organization (ICPHSO). Ms. Pollack-Nelson has evaluated hundreds of children and adult products to identify potential hazards associated with foreseeable use and misuse. Her participation in various voluntary standards development committees has led to revisions of standards for preventing head and neck entrapment on bunk bed ladders and side structures, integrated protective barriers on gas fireplace glass and full body harnesses on hunting tree stands. She also provides independent technical consultation to manufacturers, test laboratories, consumer organizations and products liability attorneys in the areas of product design and hazard identification, age grading, and warning label and instruction manual design.
- ASTM F15.22 Subcommittee on Toy Safety – For 30 years, Subcommittee F15.22 has developed and shepherded the comprehensive toy safety requirements found in ASTM F963 – Consumer Safety Specification for Toy Safety, which includes requirements addressing mechanical and physical properties in children’s toys; electrical, flammability and toxicological hazards; labeling requirements and more than 100 tests for toy safety. Thanks to the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, the ASTM F963 standard is now a federal toy safety standard. This standard helps protect children younger than 14 from possible hazards that may not be easily recognized, but may be encountered in the normal use of a toy. The standard was the first to address hazards posed by cup-shaped toys that pose a suffocation hazard, toys with spherical ends that pose an impact hazard, and jaw entrapment toys, among a number of others. The subcommittee has also spearheaded efforts over the years to proactively address safety specifications for batteries, heavy metals, and high-powered magnets in children’s toys. The subcommittee is part of ASTM International, which is a globally-recognized leader in the development and delivery of international voluntary consensus standards. About 12,000 ASTM standards are used around the world to improve product quality, enhance safety, provide market access and trade and build consumer confidence.
- Committee CS-003, Standards Australia/Standards New Zealand – Committee CS-003 is a joint committee that covers Safety Requirements for Children’s Furniture sold in Australia and New Zealand. The committee drafts, maintains, and interprets national and bi-national standards relating to infant and child products. In April 2013, a test for mattress firmness developed by the committee was published as a new Australian/New Zealand standard. The test, the first of its kind in the world, outlines a method of testing all horizontal infant sleep surfaces. The test can be applied in laboratory, retail and home settings. On average, products that fail the test are three times more likely to be associated with a fatal suffocation event than products that pass. A consumer version of the standard test method has also been invented. This consumer test method is being communicated to families, empowering them to determine their own safe sleeping practices. The new test method for firmness will also allow investigators inspecting the sleep environment of infant fatalities to assess the firmness properties of the surface where a child is found.