By Madison Banda, Consumer Reporter
June 21, 2011
Women who are pregnant or trying to conceive have been increasingly likely to encounter pregnancy tests without any of the steps needed to get them to check out these products. The same goes for measuring sticks, thermometers and other ultrasound devices — some at Walmart.
Walmart is voluntarily recalling about 60,000 respirators, which have been linked to six potentially deadly allergic reactions among women with a history of hives and asthma. Walmart is already talking to 14 million patients about the recall and ordering medicine boxes and other products off the shelves and some were already removed from store shelves last year.
Women have been alerted to make sure their home reading kits came from a reputable provider.
“I am scared,” said Banda, a 47-year-old college professor from Fort Worth, Texas, who is about six months pregnant. She called around to do a background check on the size of the portable respirator using the “Scared To Death” app on her cell phone, but couldn’t find any of the advertised 7-ounce sizes, which were supposedly too small to be used inside an infant’s home.
“I called three different companies and they all said the same thing. The American Association of Home Health Equipment says they don’t have those sizes,” she said. She had bought a 7-ounce one with five doctor symbols, and one with many.
Donna Redmond, spokeswoman for the APHEE, warned that the sizing suggested in the ads might be inadequate in some cases. “But it might be a good buy for your very, very sick mom,” she added. The association’s standard for handheld residential otolaryngoscope (a respirator for hearing loss) is 8 ounces.
Provisional testing kits for hives, asthma and stomach upset are particularly unusual products. When I went to buy one, I found a detailed eight-page consumer risk statement — based on labeling by the same manufacturer that the EPA says does not match all the dimensions. Such a statement is only a recommendation, it isn’t a recall.
Walmart consumer safety guidelines, which were updated in February, state that on-site service testing needs to be requested if an on-the-spot test report shows the product’s resolution within 15 minutes. (It did not for this recall, but you can see the device’s recall notice here.) The product can be returned directly to the retailer if it feels like a gag. If the provider doesn’t carry on-site service, or the coverage is subpar, stop using the item.
I looked for company names in advertising and had no luck. You can’t tell which company sold the products recalled at Walmart stores. Some are carried by Target, for example.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission says in its website that the online sales of Pangard, Inc. and its labeling indicate the packs on the market did not meet the requirements of the Manufacturing Code or Hazard Report System and were not federally recognized as Hazard Investigation Reports. The recall includes 20,000 MFP-7 oxygen de-toxins inhalers and 5,000 inhalers with a “Product Identifier: Unit No. 4200” ON the package. Consumers also should look for serial numbers 6333-65004.
Over-the-counter manufacturer Pangard could not be reached by phone or e-mail.
Click here for more of Madison Banda’s Consumer Report.