WASHINGTON – President George W. Bush signed consumer-safety legislation Thursday that bans lead from children's toys with the world's toughest standard on keeping the metal out of children's toys.
The new law prohibits lead, beyond minute levels, in products for children 12 or younger. Lead paint was a major factor in the recall of 45 million toys and children's items last year, many from China.
Both houses of Congress approved the bill by overwhelming margins two weeks ago.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates about 28,000 deaths are linked each year to unsafe products, including toys, in the United States. More than 33 million people were injured last year by consumer products.
The bill also bans a chemical called phthalates that is widely used to make plastic products softer and more flexible.
Also, the legislation bolsters the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which took the brunt of criticism last year over the massive recalls and the government's failure to monitor toy imports before they reach store shelves.
The bill would double the commission's budget, to $136 million, by 2014 and give it new authority to oversee testing procedures and to penalize violators.
White House spokesman Tony Fratto said the measure will give the regulating agencies the money they need to enforce the law. "This has become an increasingly difficult and complex job as more imports from more nations are now sold in the United States than ever before," he said.