Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Your Comments are Getting Me Charged Up!

Another interesting day at the office! I was interviewed by the Denver Post about the CPSIA (focused on the many serious problems being caused by this hastily drafted law) and heard about the many new viral contacts being made by the energetic and effective members of this informal coalition. It is gratifying to know that we are being heard. The media keeps calling - this is certainly a good thing. I also know our presence is being felt in high places. This is not the same as saying that we have seen cracks in the defense yet, but since today was swearing-in day in Congress, the next few days will reveal much. The staffing of the Rush Subcommittee has yet to be formalized, and then there is the possibility of hearings sometime this month.

Having read today's outpouring of comments and reactions to my Blog, I welled up with anger over this terrible law and fired off yet another letter to the Rush Subcommittee. They are used to hearing from me by now - but this time, I shared your public blogs. They need to see the scale of the disaster they have wrought.

I hope you are all crafting calls, emails and faxes for your representatives in Congress. The amazing AAFA has generated over 7500 emails through their website (other trade associations could learn from them). I know you want "talking points" for your messages. Here are a couple for today:

a. The CPSIA is harmful because the reach of its lead rules is too great. The notorious recalls of 2007 related to lead-in-paint (already illegal) and lead jewelry for kids. These are the only instances of lead in children's products for which there is a documented link to ACTUAL injuries. In other words, the concept of "total lead" has never been linked to real, documented injuries (injuries that have names, addresses and descriptions attached). By overreaching the real risks, huge problems occurred for everyone concerned with being compliant with law. Under the CPSIA, everything is suspect, even though common sense and common experience informs us that the risk is virtually nonexistent with the above limited exceptions. Had the law been tailored to address lead instances that actually present a known risk of injury, MANY industries and businesses would have been spared coverage by this law. The cost of compliance would have come down significantly as well.

b. The CPSIA also overreaches in the definition of children's products. By sweeping in ALL products intended for children up to age 12, the law draws in far too many products with making any rational relationship to known, actual risks. It is well-documented by the CPSC that children over three don't put toys in their mouths - so why extend the age range all the way to 12 years old? When discussing this issue with legislators over the past year, the rational presented to support this term is that 12 year olds "often have a two-year-old sibling who may get into their [toys]". This is patently absurd on several levels. First of all, the risk of unsupervised toddlers is controlled by PARENTS, not manufacturers. There shouldn't be an obligation that all children's product be designed to permit absentee parenting. Second, there is little or no data to suggest that this theoretical risk of injury actually results in injury. Yes, little kids can hurt themselves by getting into Big Brother's stuff - but do they? No. Third, the notion that little kids will likely get into the older kids' stuff - but not the parents' stuff (unregulated) or other household items (what about Fido's toys - which look just like Junior's?) is simply contemptible. Two-year-olds are not known to prefer chewing on the shoes of pre-teens over Daddy's slippers, and if anything would be attracted to dog toys which are always found on the floor in easy reach. Think about it - did Congress endorse gruesome injury from those other items, but thumbed its nose at injury from a sibling's possessions? Come on - their exclusion of those other items from the lead standards is a tacit acknowledgement of the arbritrary placement of the line.

You will be interested to note that of all the public interest groups lobbying for this law on the web, I could find ZERO that illustrated their materials on lead with images of any child over three. Many little kids were pictured with rubber duckies in their mouths. Notably, none of the kids sucking on rubber duckies were 12 years old . . . . I would advance that if lead safety were really an issue for 12 year olds, then why aren't these activists displaying these terrible dangers in their own brochures? I think the answer is obvious.

c. Finally, the Falvey opinion that the total lead and lead-in-paint rules apply retroactively need to be reversed for the good of the nation. You know that - you are blogging about it every day. Why is it okay for Congress to take this step? Would reversal of the Falvey opinion unleash a "flood of dangerous toys" in a "giant lawn sale" on an unsuspecting public? Of course not, and the reason is clear - there is simply no indication that the existing inventory is dangerous. Remember, if it were, the CPSC already has the power to recall it. The public interest advocates are swarming over the entire children's product industry waving XRF guns. If there is such a major public health crisis underfoot - where's the data? Nowhere to be found.

I think that's enough for today!



Kathleen said...

The pictures you paint with words. I laughed out loud imagining a 12 year old sucking on a rubber duckie.

OT: did you know that NASA is looking for theirs? Their rubber ducks I mean. They lost a whole bunch of 'em and are paying $100 each to get them back (http://bit.ly/LLIv). Hey, maybe that's where they went. The 12 year olds are sucking on them. Pre-pubescent boys are always up to something silly.

Anonymous said...

This is really making me sad. I've just started getting the wheels in motion to create a start-up business selling handmade baby quilts, but now I'll be stuck with close to 1,000 worth of product in my closet. It's is pure ridiculousness. The government knows very well where lead-tainted products come from and it is not in the %100 cotton batting, or the fabric I use to make my quilts.

Esther said...

These are good talking points. I am of the opinion that the Falvey opinion violates the rule of law, though it would take a constitution-based lawyer to see if that is truly the case. There are precedents for congress to give permission to federal agencies to apply certain laws retroactively. It is unclear to me if Falvey has that permission.

Louise-OSET said...

Thanl You Rick for doing this. Last week I spent hours trying to find you and your wisdom after seeing you on You Tube. Then I found you on Twitter... I never thought I'd be 'twittering'!
We sell electric motorcycles for kids. osetbikes.com. The urban dirt on our tyres pose more of a health hazzard than the lead in our steel frames. Today we heard our supplier in China won't supply us until they understand what the requiremnts are. As we are small, they might decide it is not worth the bother.
Please keep us informed. Some 'hard' links to legal opinions, analysis etc would be very useful. We can't afford a lawyer!
Cheers, Louise

Pamela Kramer said...

Thank you for spreading the word to your readers. I have the break down cost of digestive testing for my own baby apparel. Digestive testing is unaffordable. www.happypandababy.com/blog

The use of XRF is good for how long? The date I have is 8/09.

Louise-OSET said...

I know where the ducks are....
They are 10years old so would need to be retrocative testing!

Headmistress, zookeeper said...

Thanks for this. I'm linking. Keep up the outstanding work

Anonymous said...

Thank you for helping all of our voices be heard. We need logic and reason applied to the testing requirements.

Anonymous said...

Weren't all of these toys and clothing supposed to be tested PRIOR to even landing in the US economy? Who is going to test the toys/clothing that I purchased already? Since it seems that we purchased these items 'at risk' then why can't the average Joe sell/donate them 'at the buyer's risk?'

Anonymous said...

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Barb said...

I'm periodically reading your articles and find them very informational, interesting, and sometimes downright funny. I'm one of the over the speed limit in age, but in all my life I've never seen a more abusive piece of legislation than the CPSIA. It needs to be repealed. I want to thank you for keeping us informed and I do support what you are doing. Don't ever give up the fight or your rights. You are 100 percent correct in all this. A round of applause to you!!!!