From an article in today's BNA entitled "Need for CPSIA Changes Debated",
"In an interview with BNA, Nancy Cowles, executive director of Kids in Danger, praised the commission's July decision on fashion jewelry accessories. Cowles told BNA that lead is a severe toxin with no safe level.
She added that while more common sense could be applied to determining which products are hazardous, consumers overall do not want products containing lead.
“People will come up with other ways to put [jewelry] on children's clothing that isn't toxic. Whether the lead [in rhinestones] leaches out fully, it's hard to know, but we don't want lead in our children's products. We will come up with other ways to decorate our clothes,” Cowles said."
There are other quotes from consumer groups in this article that set my blood ablaze, but I thought this one deserves special "heralding".
I should note that I have written about rhinestones extensively, and debunked the opinion expressed by the estimable Ms. Cowles thoroughly. [See my "Jewelry" tags.] You may wonder, why do I care so much about rhinestones. Our business does not use rhinestones, so what's the big deal for me? Rhinestones is a poster child for the stupidity of the law. The impact of the CPSIA on rhinestones is the impact that is bedeviling the entire children's product industry, from toys to books to shoes to bedding to what-have-you. If rhinestones go down, safe as they are, we all go down. If we can save rhinestones on a rational and fair basis, perhaps the rest of us will get fairer treatment.
That said, I have a couple comments on Ms. Cowles' remarks. First of all, she is fear mongering, not advocating for you and your children. She says rhinestones are "toxic" - I say "prove it". The people behind the CPSIA are left with few options to save their precious law but to deceive the general public about health risks. The case on rhinestones is out there to be examined by Ms. Cowles. Why not attack rhinestones with data and analysis? Because no data or analysis exists to weaken the case FOR rhinestones. The "there's no safe level of lead" mantra is faulty. We already consume plenty of lead in our air, our food and our water daily. The rationale that trace presence of lead in children's products is somehow the health "tipping point" has never been proven and frankly cannot be asserted on a reasoned, scientific basis. The lead we consume in our normal daily activities dwarfs the lead you might ingest from casual contact with children's products. If there really is "no safe level for lead", then our wise Congress should attack the big sources of lead first, and leave the rest of us for later.
Second, Ms. Cowles is sending a lot of people down the river with her casual condemnation of rhinestones. I would note that many industries use rhinestones in their products. The people who run those companies, are employed by those companies, are supported by income from those companies, trade with those companies or value those products in their lives, will ALL lose if the likes of Ms. Cowles get to run our society. Does that make ANY sense to ANYONE (besides Ms. Cowles)?
I keep thinking of the prescription she offers for living a safe and wondrous life. She says we will (and should) find something else to decorate our products with. Perhaps Ms. Cowles decorates herself with the jewels from Pretty, Pretty Princess. That's what she is suggesting, that we get used to plastic jewelry. Perhaps Ms. Cowles can live with getting gifts for her kids from a vending machine, but that's not how I want to live. As I have noted before, inexpensive stones are a way for people to bedeck kids with jewelry inexpensively. Rhinestones are important to a lot of people, some of whom may not have the economic wherewithal to switch to diamonds and rubies. In addition, it's an inexpensive way to let little kids have a bit of bling. If you are trying to make your little kids look special for social, cultural or religious reasons, I think Palladium earrings may be somewhat impractical for most people. Little kids to tend to outgrow their clothing and shoes quickly. Parents can't really afford to buy and rebuy clothing and jewelry using precious stones as their kids grow, and may never warm up to Pretty, Pretty Princess jewelry. If this is the way it has to be, I think we should think more insightfully about who is writing the rules for our society.
Increasingly, the recommendations of consumer advocates are ringing more and more hollow. How crazy has the world become? Consider this quote from the November 2008 "Trouble in Toyland" report issued by the Vermont PIRG:
"Some children’s toys, jewelry and cosmetics may contain toxic chemicals, especially lead and toxic phthalates. . . . PHTHALATES AND OTHER CHEMICALS Avoid toys made of PVC plastic; which often contains phthalate softeners. Choose unpainted wooden or cloth toys instead."
Yes, PIRG wants us to use cloth toys and plain unpainted wooden toys to be "safe". But how "safe" are these toys? The CPSC, after due consideration, has informed us in their new phthalates testing standard: "Examples of materials that do not normally contain phthalates and, therefore, might not require testing or certification are . . . Natural wood [and] Textiles made from natural fibers, such as cotton or wool . . . ." Uh-oh! PIRG is telling you to buy products that MIGHT contain phthalates! Ouch. [To be fair, I have no idea how phthalates would get in there, but heck, the CPSC says they MIGHT. They must know something I don't.]
So PIRG has it wrong - we can't even play with cloth toys or wood. What's left? Rocks. Oh, no - rocks need to be tested for lead, phthalates and sharp points! Well, perhaps after the Residential Rock Roundup is wrapped up, we will all be safe to move into caves to play with our rocks. Ms. Cowles, get your own cave - you can't play with my rocks.