Sunday, January 11, 2009

The View from US PIRG (Get Ready to Feel Dizzy)

My friend Eric Husman sends the following link for everyone on blood pressure medicine: This is what it says:

January 08, 2009

CPSC to issue release today on lead rules


Sellers of used children’s products, such as thrift stores and consignment stores, are not required to certify that those products meet the new lead limits, phthalates standard or new toy standards. The new safety law does not require resellers to test children’s products in inventory for compliance with the lead limit before they are sold.

ORIGINAL POST: The CPSC is expected to issue a release today in response to a growing number of complaints from small toymakers and second-hand and consignment stores that it has failed to explain how to comply with new limits on lead in toys and children's products that take effect on 10 February. Yesterday, U.S. PIRG and other leading groups sent a letter to the CPSC demanding clarification. Austin American-Statesman story today. NBC17 (Durham, NC) with video. Los Angeles Times story. Our previous blog. While some elements of the toy industry campaign appear responsible and seeking clarification, some opponents of the important new law are using hysteria to rev up the issue, referring to 10 February as "National Bankruptcy Day" and the need to stop the new "supercharged" CPSC's "toy police." Excerpt from our consumer letter:

The vacuum of implementation information, as well as the proliferation of misinformation regarding actual testing requirements and the cost of testing is leading to confusion and fear. The public counts on the CPSC to protect them from dangerous products. Now CPSC must take the initiative to allay their fears by providing prompt, common-sense, and explicit interpretations regarding exemptions to CPSIA stipulations, guidance as to the realistic cost of testing, and education regarding compliance with the CPSIA for retailers, including thrift and consignment stores.

Posted by Ed Mierzwinski at January 8, 2009 09:05 AM

And perhaps because I have lost my mind, I posted the following reply. It may not be published because at the public interest group US PIRG, they preview comments to prevent anything "malicious" from being published. Maybe that's why there are no comments up yet . . . . You can be the judge of my "maliciousness":

"I find your approach fascinating. You want the CPSC to provide "common sense" interpretations of this law, in this case to allay the fears of thrift stores and second-hand shops and charities. Great idea! Now comes the hard part - using "common sense". The law you support so vigorously is apparently written to apply its new lead standards retroactively. Congratulations to you for this groundbreaking achievement (makes me nostalgic for the Prohibition) - now how is "common sense" supposed to guide the CPSC in reconciling this law with the legitimate concerns of second-hand merchants???

Let's see, the law says products made before February 10 are subject to these new, retroactive (and over-reaching) new rules on lead. The thrift shops need to have a "reasonable basis" for their belief that the goods are in compliance with the new standards. Does "common sense" mean that these stores should resort to guessing? They certainly can't afford to test every single thing they sell. If guesing works, boy, am I happy! That would be mean we can guess, too - maybe we'll throw away our $50,000 XRF gun now. Oh darn, I guess we can't do that, because the CPSC says that if anyone actually sells something that violates the standards, they will throw the book at 'em. I see a conflict here . . . .

I wish I had your powers of common sense so I could sort this out. I am so pleased with your leadership in instructing the CPSC to figure this out because I certainly can't and apparently you can't either. No doubt they will . . . .

Richard Woldenberg
Learning Resources, Inc."


Wacky Hermit said...

I get the impression from reading USPIRG's letter that USPIRG is just starting to realize that it has created a monster. It seems they really only intended this to apply to toys and are now asking the CPSC to state that publicly... problem is, that's not the law that was passed. They are so confirmed in their view that they honestly think what we are spreading is "misinformation" even though it comes directly from the CPSC's own website.

Hopefully they will continue the process of waking up, and finish it in time to save the industry.

jennifer said...

Thanks for this post Rick. I just read their entire letter they sent to the CPSC and can't believe that they want the CPSC to get us estimates on testing.

They are now on my growing letter list.

Eric H said...

I left him this message:

I'd say the vacuum of information is mostly on your side. You guys wanted this thing, didn't consult anyone who actually knew something about manufacturing, and now that it is blowing up in your faces, you want CPSC to do ... what exactly? I have on my desktop almost two dozen actual quotes for testing. What is CPSC going to tell me that I don't already know? Many of the people who sent these to me are saying that they can't afford it and are now conducting fire sales. Got kids? Between now and 10 February, you can find bargains on quality products everywhere.

Boy, those consignment stores really got a good deal. They won't be required to test! But they were reminded that they could be fined and jailed if they sell anything that doesn't meet the lead and phthalate restrictions. Fortunately, most resellers were apparel industry chemical engineers in their former careers, right? And they can easily spot a leaded sequin using their special powers of "common-sense".

I also posted a comment on his newer entry on the digital TV transition. They are opposing it. Why? Apparently, it is happening too quickly and it is going to cost too much. I asked him to explain his inconsistency in denying our similar claims.