Monday, July 13, 2009

Article: >New Safety Agency Chief Pledges Greater Openness

Today this article appeared online at Consumer Affairs:

New Safety Agency Chief Pledges Greater Openness

It didn't take long in reading this article to boil my blood! In fact, it gets right in there with its subtitle: But industry lobbyists lie in wait for Inez Tenenbaum. It is already painfully obvious where this one is heading, so let me give the perspective of one of those who "lies in wait":

Mr. Hood actually deals with the recent issues with the Chinese Drywall before he attacks those of us who have been taking on the CPSIA. But right in the intro to that section, he claims: "Among the issues facing Tenenbaum are Chinese drywall and pressure from industries and retailers hoping to win exemptions from the Children's Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), passed last year in response to a wave of recalls of toys and children's products containing dangerous levels of lead."

Assumption number one here is that this "wave of recalls" is of dangerous products containing "dangerous levels of lead". And one can't help but hear the disgust in his voice as he says that we are giving Ms. Tenenbaum "pressure from industries and retailers hoping to win exemptions..." Oh, shame on us, the child-endangering retailers and industries who would pressure her for exemptions so that we can continue to make and sell our unsafe products.

But wait, he hasn't really fully attacked yet. Wait until the section on Children's Books where he accuses us even more directly: "In what is perhaps a more bizarre situation, small retailers, thrift shops and charities are claiming they should be exempt from the CPSIA's restrictions, which are meant to protect children from mental retardation that can result from exposure to lead..."

So let me see if I have this straight. As a reseller, who is trying to get an exemption from the ridiculous restrictions of the CPSIA, I am willing to risk causing mental retardation to my smallest customers, because I am putting my profit margin above their safety. What utter hogwash!

But then he goes all out: "The protestors don't argue that lead is not harmful or that children are not at risk, they simply contend it is too much trouble for them to comply with the law." Excuse me! Where does Mr. Hood get his "facts"? We do argue that children are not at risk from the used books that we sell, or from the many other wonderful educational products that we can no longer sell. It is not that it is "too much trouble"! It is the simple fact that children are NOT safer because of the requirements of this law.

And for the final zing to booksellers and librarians who are arguing for the exemption of their very safe products (otherwise known as books), he adds: "And why is that, one might ask? After all, numerous children's books have been recalled because they contain dangerous levels of lead-based paint, objects that can come loose and cause choking in infants and other hazards. For example..."

No, Mr. Hood, "numerous" children's books have not been recalled, not when you consider the numbers of books in circulation. And the examples that he uses are not "ordinary books" at all -- every one of them is outside the realm of "ordinary books" and yet he is arguing that our perfectly safe product, children's books (as well as many other safe products made with ink and paper) need to be submitted to the same tests and restrictions of other products that have at least some track record of risk. (Though none of them have caused the types of problems that could be guessed from the hysteria about the "need" for the CPSIA!

It is a shame that Mr. Hood has provided no avenue for comments, or method for being reached...One can only hope that his next article dealing with the Consumer Product Safety "Improvement" Act is better researched and better written than this one.

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