Friday, January 22, 2010

CPSIA 1 Year Later

We learned about CPSIA at our shop just over 1 year ago. It's been long 12 months, I must say. There have been some temporary concessions made -- mostly in the forms of various stays for various manufacturers. But I have seen no true improvements, and certainly none for resellers. We continue to turn away numerous products that are clearly intended for children 12 and under, that we can't possibly know whether meet the new lead limits.

Most of the articles that I see are in response to the changes needed in the CPSIA, but occasionally I stumble upon one where the author seems to think that CPSIA is a good thing. This one was particularly troublesome to me: "How Art Thou Wrong, Ms. Northup? Let Me Count the Ways."

I left a rather lengthy response, but just in case my response doesn't stay there long, I decided I should post it here as well.

You were very quick to point out Ms Northup's "mistakes", while making plenty of your own:

"ALERT #1: Santa Claus doesn’t make bicycles; factory workers in China do." But this law doesn't only deal with imports, it deals with the many, safe products made by American workers.

"SPOILER ALERT #2: The law doesn’t “outlaw” zippers, hinges, and other components of kids’ products; it simply requires that they be made without lead."
No, it does not SIMPLY require that they be made without lead -- it also requires that all of those products and many, many more be TESTED to prove that they do not have lead -- testing that is very expensive, and not within the reach of many small companies, who have been making perfectly safe products for children. (Testing that is also required of products that have no risk of containing lead.)

"The law also increases CPSC’s authority to stop the import of hazardous children’s products" Again, you imply that the law only deals with imports, and only with hazardous products. Both are incorrect. Perfectly safe children’s products are being pulled from the market because of the overzealousness of this law. Many businesses, particularly smaller ones, in the United States are suffering.

"…and it bans the resale of recalled products.” Such a simple statement, that leaves out so much. First of all, it makes it dangerous for the resellers to sell much more than just recalled products. If it is a children’s product, we are expected to KNOW that it is lead-free before we sell it -- something that we cannot accurately do without expensive tests. And while banning the resale of recalled products sounds like a good idea – how are resellers to know if a product has been recalled? We run a risk with every child’s product we resell – again, causing many perfectly safe products to be pulled from the market.

“The new law is a strong and long-overdue health standard, and it is based on the scientific consensus that, where children are concerned, we should eliminate every possible lead threat.”
While eliminating every lead threat sounds like a nice goal, this law restricts lead in places that it has never been a threat – in bicycles, in ATVs, in the pages of old books – if there is lead in those places, it is not causing a threat to children, but it is banned due to CPSIA the same as in any places that it does present a risk.

“Far too many children suffered lead exposures while waiting for the new law.” Actually, the Center for Disease Control has gotten lead poisoning almost completely under control in the last decade. The vast majority of cases of lead poisoning have been from lead-in paint (banned long before CPSIA), lead-in gasoline (also banned long ago), and lead, primarily from those sources, that has leaked into the environment over the years. This law does very, very little to protect children.

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