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New Ballot Measure for CPSIA at CPSC RE: Lead

Update: Ballot on lead levels passes.

The CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) has just issued a ballot to clarify the lead rulings in the CPSIA (Consumer Product Safety "Improvement" Act).

Here are some thoughts:

First, this is just the ballot. It hasn't been voted on so don't start jumping up and down in excitement like many did before the Phthalate vote last week.

Second, the Phthalate vote was overturned in New York by some over-zealous watchdog group so even a yes vote here isn't the final word.

Third, in all the back and forth finger pointing between Congress and the CPSC, the CPSC has basically said that everything they say concerning the law is just an opinion and could be overruled at any time.

Now, on to the ballot:

Section 1 seems to make a common-sense declaration on what "accessible" means in regards to lead in products. i.e., a thin coating of paint or electroplating doesn't render something inaccessible. The commission will expect manufacturers to use "a reasonable interpretation" of the law. As if the law can be reasonably interpreted.

Section 2 says that they will enforce the electronics rule as found in their January proposal (see page 3). The new document says that they didn't receive any objections to the proposal.

Section 4 is probably the biggest deal for resellers. It says that anyone who makes, distributes or sells products made from a specific list of materials won't be liable for prosecution unless they knowingly are selling things that violate the lead limits. These items include natural fibers and some metals. A complete list is on page one and two of 74 Fed. Reg.2433.

Section 5 exempts "ordinary" books and dyed and undyed textiles and non-metallic thread and trim that meet specific requirements (no treatment that could add lead, no plastics or metal that could contain lead) The problem I see with this is that books frequently contain staples which could possibly violate the lead limits.

If this passes and no one sues, the biggest cause to celebrate will probably be for section four. This really helps a lot of small businesses, at least until February of next year. Where this statement is still weak is on the liability for retailers. Section 4 covers specific instances for retailer exclusions but most are still in place while most manufacturers are still off the hook for another year.

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