Mr. President, I'm here today to talk about the bill that is pending on the floor. I'm very, very pleased that this bill is advancing -- the Consumer Product Safety Commission bill, a bill that involves so many important provisions. But in my state, I'll tell you we're very focused on the provision dealing with the toxic toys. And I can tell you after being in the Senate for only a year, it is truly an inspiration to see that we were able to get a bill through our committee, thanks to the leadership of Senator Pryor and Senator Inouye, Senator Stevens, and get it to the floor.
The reason it's so important in our state is that we had a little boy who died, a four-year-old boy who swallowed a charm that was given to him with a pair of tennis shoes. And he didn't die from choking on the charm, he didn't die from his airway being blocked. He died as the lead went into thinks bloodstream day after day after day. And when that charm was tested, it was 99% lead. It was from china, Mr. President, and his own blood level when he died was three times the normal amount of lead.
It was a very sad story but it is some solace to the people in our state that after only being here as year and as a member of the committee that I was able to work to make sure that we had a federal lead standard in this bill. And it is rewarding, indeed, that it looks today that we may be completing our work, and I know that you've seen this in Ohio. We have seen toy after toy recalled in this country. In fact, 29 million toys -- look at this -- were recalled in 2007 alone. And you look at this. This is a calendar with the various toys that were recalled in just the year of 2007 and into January and February of 2008.
You know, we saw the thomas the trains that were recalled. We saw dora the explorer. We saw spongebob squarepants. And if you just get a sense of it, you know, you've got this calendar but this is actual documentation of all the toys that have been recalled in just the last year and three months. You have things like necklaces, kids rings. You have the train, the Cub Scout badges, ugly teeth for Halloween. Of course, the aqua dots that morphed into the date rape drug. You can go on and on and on.
I think it's stunning that at this time in our history, we would still have something like this happen. I think many people thought, you know, in the 1970's when we got our act together in this country about consumer protection and we strengthened the laws and we realized kids were dying with problems from everything from cribs to dangerous toys to flammable pajamas, this country got its act together. Well, look what happened instead. We've seen a record number of imports coming in from other countries that don't have the safety standards that we do. You know, this was really brought home to us that it was more than just toy recalls and numbers when a few days ago Senator Pryor and I met with the families of two children that almost died from toxic toys.
The first is Jacob or Jack, as his family knows him. His mother Shelby came from Arkansas to the capitol. And when she told her story in a way that I will never do justice, a very touching story -- any parent can imagine this. You start out in the kitchen. It was October 30, 2007. Jack was 20 months old at the time. And what happened that was his older sister had these aqua dots that you put in water and then they transform into an animal or something like that and he swallowed one of them. And all of a sudden this the boy is standing there and he's throwing up, he's stumbling around and she immediately took him to Arkansas Children's Hospital where he was treated by a doctor. Suddenly this little, Jacob, Jack, went into a coma. They had no idea. Kids swallow things as we know, Mr. President, all the time. Maybe they'll swallow a penny, they swallow something. It's not a good thing but they don't immediately go into a coma. And he was in a coma for about six hours. They thought they were going to lose him because no one could figure out what had happened.
Well, she said, just like this, he came out of the coma and he was fine. The doctor was in shock. The doctor said if he hadn't been there, he wouldn't have even believed that it had happened. So they got him home and no one could figure out what had happened. She gets on the web herself, the mom does, tries to figure out what's in aqua dots, she calls the company, everyone's trying to figure it out. Well, finally they do some testing in the next few days and they found out that the coating that was put on these particular aqua dots metabolized into a chemical compound known as the date rape drug. And as a prosecutor, I can tell you, we've handled cases involving date rape drugs, and this is not a little thing. These are used to put people -- knock them out for hours so crimes can occur and they take vulnerable victims and try to put them to sleep. That's what happened with this aqua dot.
So she came and told us this story. On November 7, the company that makes aqua dots, recalled the product. The chemical that is in these little beads could cause children, they figured out, to become comatose, to develop respiratory depression. But this is what we were dealing with.
Then another family came and talked to Senator Pryor and I, and this is Colton, this little boy. And this happened -- this is now when he's a little older. But their family lives in Oregon, and they told us this story. The mom told us this story, that in 2003 when Colton was only four years old, he swallowed a little trinket that they had gotten out of a gumball machine. And it was later determined – they couldn't figure out why he was so sick, he was -- he was having trouble, he was not himself and they took him to the doctor and they knew that -- they had figured out he swallowed this lead. They get the toy out of him. But they figured out later that this toy was 39% lead. And his lead levels, this little boy Colton at the time, were considered fatal but he survived.
This mom told me when we met earlier this the week that when she heard about Jarnell, it all came back to her, that she spent the last two years trying to be an advocate all by herself to get something done on this and then imagine how she felt when she read that this little boy Jarnell in Minneapolis had died with exactly the same kind of charm. These lead charms, something like this, into his system. And the one Jarnell had was 99% lead. Luckily for little Colton, the piece he had was only 39% lead. But now even today, Colton's lead levels when he is much older are at 17. They are not where they should be and they're constantly on alert for what might go wrong. If he has a growth spurt or if he breaks his bones, his lead levels will increase. And they don't know the effect that will have.
The other thing about them is that necklaces can also affect teenage girls because, you see, they put these necklaces on and then they're sitting in class or they're with their friends and they chew on them. I've seen little girls actually do, teenage girls, and they have these sort of cheaper jewelry charms and they start to chew on them. In January of 2007, 114,000 necklaces were recalled because the pendants contained high levels of lead. These kind of pendants have continued to be recalled throughout this year. Another example – in February 2007 almost 300,000 Rachael Rose rings, which were worn by very young kids who want to try on a ring, were recalled.
In June of 2007 we had the Thomas and Friends, which was the first batch of 1.5 million recalls. This story is one that's worth noting, Mr. President. You'll be interested in this on one. These were toys that were manufactured, painted in China. The rc-2 company when they found out about it called for a recall. They were very embarrassed about the safety record. They apologized to their customers and said they would make every effort to make sure it would not happen again. To prompt customers to return the trains they actually said, you know what, we'll give you a bonus gift. We're going to replace the toys. We'll send you a bonus gift if you send in your recalled toys. All these parents send in their recalled toys -- if you can imagine trying to figure out which ones -- so that they then get this bonus gift. Well, guess what? This bonus gift backfired in a big way when it was discovered that 2,000 of these bonus gift items contained lead paint levels four times higher than legally allowed, leaving the parents of these toddlers to deal with what we call the double recall. Then in August of 2007 almost 1 million Sesame Street and Dora the Explorer toys were recalled. 1.6 million cub scout badges were recalled for extremely high lead levels. Just in last Halloween, just a few days before, 43,000 ugly teeth toys were recalled, that kids put in their mouths for Halloween. This is just what I call "the greatest hit list." There were over 9 million toys recalled by hundreds of different companies in 2007 with a total of 27 million toys recalled. Yet we've known about this danger for 30 years, and that's what's so shocking about this.
As we advance in this country with technology and blackberrys and cell phones it is unbelievable that we would be stepping back with these claims. The science is clear. It is an undisputed fact that lead -- it shouldn't have taken us this long to take lead out of the hands of our children, out of their mouths and it is the consumer product safety commission's job, Mr. President, to do this. When they start seeing all these imports coming in, they should have done something. They should have come to Congress and said, we think we're seeing a problem here. We're going to need more people. We're going to need more toy inspectors. And I can tell you it was Congress that had to take the lead to get this moving. The burden should not fall on parents or kids to tell if a toy train is coated with lead paint. Who is going to be able to figure that out? You figure if you buy a toy from a reputable store that it's going to be okay. And I think it is shocking for most parents, Mr. President, when they realize there's never been a mandatory ban on lead in kids' toys in this country. Never. And until this legislation will be passed, there will never have been a mandatory ban.
In response to a series of letters I wrote to Chairman Norwood -- the chairwoman re responded. In this letter, she acknowledged that the -- quote -- "CPSC does not have the authority to ban lead in all children's products without considering exposures and risks on a product-by-product basis." She went on to say that where the CPSC to attempt to ban lead in all children's products -- quote -- "it would likely take several years and millions of dollars." This response makes it clear that Congress cannot wait for the Consumer Product Safety Commission to act. They've had years. They've known this was increasing, these imports and what was going on for years and they didn't act. That's why we need this bill. And according this them, to give them the benefit of the doubt, they didn't have the tools or the resources to do their job. Now, it would have been nice if they'd come earlier than this year to ask, but they didn't have the tools on the books.
This legislation effectively bans lead in all children's products by classifying lead as a banned, hazardous substance under the federal hazardous substance act. And this was a part of the bill that incorporates the bill that we wrote out of our office. And the reason I of course was so focused on this was because of the fact that this little boy died in our state. The bill sets a ceiling for trace level of allowable lead at .03% of the total weight of a part of a children's products or 300 parts per million. Because the science supports that we should be able to get it down to .01% of the total weight of kids' toys for lead. Some of the pediatrician groups believe we can do this. We maybe go lower than that to trace levels of lead and we allow the consumer product safety commission to do a rule making so that if they'd like -- and the science supports it -- they can actually go down zero or go down below if they'd like. But these are trace levels of lead that are more aggressive than you see in some of the states. The legislation also sets an even lower threshold for paint. Under this birth the allowable -- under this bill, the allowable level would drop immediately to 90 parts per million. This lower threshold is critical because science has shown that as children put products in their mouths, it is the painted coatings which are the most easily accessible to kids. Every parent after toddler knows this to be true.
On these lead-tainted Thomas trains, you can always see -- the ones that have been brought in my office by parents who are worried about the little teeth marks of kids chewing on the toys. People say, what is the Consumer Product Safety Commission doing now? They have a voluntary standard at .06. The key point is it is voluntary. So they have to negotiate with the companies if they want to do a recall. A lot of our retailers in Minnesota -- Target, toys r us -- have been very frustrated by this. They want to get them off their shelves but they haven't been recalled yet. This makes it simpler because it is in fact a mandatory federal lead standard. The other piece of the bill that came out of a bill that we drafted and is very important to me -- and I think it comes from being a mom and it is practical -- is making it easier when there is a recall to be able to identify the toy.
Now, when I've talked to my friends, they say, what am I supposed to do? I hear about this recall. I go to the consumer product safety commission web site and I can't tell which caboose, which train -- is it the box cars, the caboose, which brunette barbie, which blonde barbie? They don't keep the packaging. I don't think anybody but my mother-in-law keeps packaging for toys because she saves everything. The batch numbers when it is practical should be on the toys. They're not going to be an a pickup stick, obviously. But they can be on the foot of a Barbie or on the bottom --these little toys on the bottom ac actually say "could boos" or "box number" so there can be a batch number. So it is easier for kids to identify which toys they can get out of their kids' box. There is also a requirement that the numbers be on the actual packaging. Even though parents will throw the packaging away, we think that's important because the mom and pop retail stores and also the internet, people will still have the packaging. That's not easy for smaller stores. May not be as easy for a little drugstore or grocery store and not easy for people buying on Ebay or selling on Ebay. So we also require that the batch numbers be on the packaging.
As we all know, the Consumer Product Safety Commission's last authorization expired in 1992, and its statutes have not been updated since 1990. And that's why when Senator Pryor has done here as chair of the consumer subcommittee -- and I'm proud to be a member of that committee and to have worked with minimum on this bill -- is so significant. You think about how the marketplace has changed in the 16 years in what we've seen, the growth for imports from countries that don't have our same standard. Yet at the same time the commission is a shadow of its former self. Although the number of imports has tripled -- trimmed -- in recent years, the and the number of recalls, as I noted earlier, has been increasing by the millions, the number of commission staff and inspectors at the consumer product safety commission has dropped by more than half. Falling from a high in 1980, as you can see right here -- falling from a high of 978 to 39 393 today. Look at that change.
You know, maybe that wouldn't have mattered if we had less toys in this matter. Maybe if we had a third of imports coming in -- in fact we see a tripling of imports from countries that do not have the same safety standards as we do. In total, the consumer product safety commission has only about 100 field investigators and compliance personnel nationwide. What this legislation does -- and we already started actually back in December where we gave the consumer product safety commission, through our omnibus budget bill, some funds to hire more inspectors. But this legislation more than doubles the consumer product safety commission's budget so that they can get those toy inspectors on board. This bill provides some needed help to increase the inspection, the research, and regulation staff. It puts 50 more staff at united states ports of entry in the next two years. some were just announced yesterday as a result of the work of this congress. Not only does this bill give the necessary funding and staff to the safety commission, but it gives the commission the ability to enforce violations of consumer product safety laws.
This bill finally makes it criminal -- criminal -- to sell recalled products. Madam president, we have seen too many headlines in year to sit around and think this problem is going to solve it itself. As a senator, I feel strongly that it's important to take this step to protect the safety of our children. When I think about that little 4-year-old boy's parents back in Minnesota, and you think about the children all over this country that have been hurt by this and the parents who have lost sleep just trying to figure out if they're doing what they're doing is right, what are they going to buy for Christmas, what are they going to do about this problem, they shouldn't be thinking about this in this day and age. We can beef up this agency that has been languishing for years. We can put the rules in place to make it easier for them to do their jobs this. Bill isn't just a matter of banning lead in children's toys. This bill is a matter of implementing consumer safety laws and regulations. It is a matter of protecting kids from more harmful products, helping parents to understand as well as they can what to do when something has been recalled. It is a matter of keeping customers informed and safe when purchasing products in the United States. And it is a matter of bringing the consumer product safety commission back into the 21st century.
You know, all our toys before these recalls were overseen by a guy named Bob. He had a back office full of toys. He would be dropping them to see what worked, what didn't work. He is retired now. We now moving into the next century. This is a matter of getting serious about consumer safety, saying this congress cares about the families in this country. People got mad about congress because we have the rules and it takes long to get things done. This bill is a bread and butter bill about helping families. With the bipartisan help of our senate colleagues we can pass this bill, this consumer safety bill that gives the Consumer Product Safety Commission tools to do its job and also sets clear and unequivocal standards of what's safe and what's not in this country. The current system has been broken by years of neglect, by an agency that hasn't come and told the truth about its problem, by an administration that closed its eyes to what is going on. This congress has fixed it.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission Reform Act of 2007 represents some of the most sweeping reforms we have seen in 16 years for consumer safety. The Wall Street Journal" said “The Consumer Product Safety Commission Reform Act of 2007 is the most significant consumer-safety legislation in a generation.” We can pass this legislation today, madam president. Thank you. I yield the floor.