ConsumerGroupHeader

 

Senator Paul Sarlo
Chair, Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee
496 Columbia Blvd., 1st Floor
Woodridge, NJ 07075

January 27, 2017

Dear Chairman Sarlo,

As leading consumer and public health organizations, Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, Keeping Babies Safe (KBS), Kids In Danger, National Center for Health Research, NJPIRG Citizen Lobby and Public Citizen, write to urge your support for S2616, an important bill that prohibits the sale of unsafe supplemental mattresses designed for children’s products.

Supplemental mattresses are mattresses sold individually, can be bought for use with play yards, and are advertised as safe. However, according to U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) data from 2000 through 2013, at least 15 children died while sleeping on supplemental mattresses. These deaths involved a child being wedged between gaps created when the supplemental mattress was added to the play yard or portable crib.

The voluntary standard, ASTM F406-15, acknowledges this risk with a warning label telling parents not to use these mattresses, and instructing consumers to only use the original mattress pad contained in the play yard package. Still, these supplemental mattresses, seemingly in contradiction to this voluntary standard and the warning label, continue to be sold.

The voluntary standard, ASTM F406-15, for play yards provides that mattresses in children’s products meet certain standard consumer safety specifications, such as setting forth the allowable thickness of a mattress, selling a product with the mattress included, only using a mattress provided by the manufacturer, and including a warning about the risk of infant suffocation.

Despite these requirements and standards, supplemental mattresses continue to be marketed to consumers for use in certain cribs, play pens, and play yards and present a risk to babies of injury and death.
Our groups applaud the introduction of bipartisan legislation in New Jersey that would finally ban the sale of supplemental baby mattresses in that state. The legislation A1139/S2616, which “prohibits sale of unsafe supplemental mattresses designed for children’s products,” is now before the Senate Commerce Committee and is expected to be voted on today.

Specifically, the bill bans the sale of unsafe supplemental mattresses intended to be used by children in products such as non-full size cribs, portable cribs, play pens, and play yards.

If the legislation is adopted, retailers caught selling supplemental mattresses would be fined up to $10,000 for a first offense and up to $20,000 for any subsequent offense. Additionally, there could be punitive damages and the awarding of treble damages and costs to the injured party.

Last year, Consumer Federation of America, Kids In Danger, and Consumers Union, among other organizations, expressed support for a Keeping Babies Safe petition that urged the CPSC to ban supplemental mattresses nationally due to the suffocation hazard they pose to infants. The groups continue to urge the CPSC to ban these mattresses.

Importantly, a number of retailers are working to stop selling supplemental mattresses due to the hazards they pose to children. Toys R Us, Sears, Kmart, Buy Buy Baby and Wayfair state that these products are never sold in their stores or online.

We urge the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, the New Jersey Senate, and the full New Jersey Legislature to immediately pass this bill to protect the infants and young children of New Jersey.

If you have any further questions about this legislation, please do not hesitate to contact Rachel Weintraub at Consumer Federation of America at (202) 939-1012 or rweintraub@consumerfed.org.

Thank you for your consideration. Sincerely,

Rachel Weintraub
Legislative Director and General Counsel
Consumer Federation of America
(202) 387-6121
Joyce Davis
President
Keeping Babies Safe
(908) 581-8699
Nancy Cowles
Executive Director
Kids In Danger
(312) 595-0649
William Wallace
Policy Analyst
Consumers Union
(202) 462-6262
Susan Harley
Deputy Director
Congress Watch Public Citizen
(202) 454-5150
Diana Zuckerman, PhD
President
National Center for Health Research
(202) 223-4000
Ed Mierzwinski
Federal Consumer Program Director
NJPIRG Citizen Lobby
(202) 461-3821
Cc: Assemblyman Jamel Holley
Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee Members

Click here to read Sen. Sarlo’s response.