[Ed. Note: I corrected a mathematical error below. The corrected figure is in RED.]
I have previously reported that my study of reported lead recalls over the past 11 years shows that there has been ONE reported death, the widely-discussed Jarnell Brown who died after swallowing a lead jewelry charm in Minnesota. This single death, plus three injuries, is the entire database of injuries reported by the CPSC from lead and lead-in-paint in the past 11 years. That's it.
The New York Times reported on Sunday that data from the EPA sets the economic "value" of a human life at $6.1 million. Whether that number is high or low, it's a good placeholder for an economic analysis of the CPSIA. [The EPA originally set this figure for an economic analysis of one of its rules.] According to federal rules governing regulations issued by the EPA, the benefits of a regulation must outweigh its costs. Therefore, as the NYT reports, if you save one life (worth $6.1 million) with a new regulation that imposes a compliance cost of $8 million, the regulation is illegal and must be withdrawn.
I wonder if this analysis would give us any insights into the CPSIA. . . .
Another relevant data point from the NYT article is that one IQ point lost to lead poisoning is worth $8,346 over a lifetime. That's a real figure - think of the cost and disruption imposed on the children's product industry to avoid the POSSIBILITY of the loss of an IQ point. Consider that the CPSC has reported three injuries from lead-in-paint in 11 years - that's 3 x $8,346 = $25,038 in "damages" in lost IQ points or a little over $2,200 per year.
Even this miniscule cost is conjectural as I am simply not aware of a single, PROVEN case of lead poisoning from a children's product. The victims assert a link between their (often undocumented) lead poisoning and the offending children's product - but the causal link is rarely if ever challenged or conclusively verified. Even the consequences of the (asserted) lead poisoning is itself conjectural - although I am not defending lead poisoning. It is not certain, however, that lead poisoning always leads to long term problems or diminished capacity. [This issue gives fresh perspective on the recent policy of the CPSC to recall ALL lead-in-paint violations, a strict liability standard. This almost certainly violates the "substantial product hazard" standard that governs the ability of the CPSC to issue recalls as a matter of law. CPSC leadership should be held accountable for this change in policy in violation of the "substantial product hazard" statutory standard.]
On the basis of this very doubtful data, my entire industry has been trashed.
Let's do the math on the CPSIA: In 11 years, one death ($6.1 million) and three IQ points ($25,000) = total cost $6.1 million. On other side of the ledger, the HTA estimates that the ANNUAL cost to test products for compliance with the CPSIA is $5.63 billion. The all-in cost is probably higher by a factor of 2-3x, but the HTA number is fine for illustration purposes. At this rate, ignoring the likely impact of inflation, the 11-year projected cost to comply with the CPSIA would be not less than $61.9 BILLION.
Spend $61.9 billion, save $6.1 million. In other words, thanks to the wondrous CPSIA, Americans spend $10,000 on "safety" to save a buck in injury costs. This is the legislative scheme that your Congressional Dem leaders have been fighting tooth-and-nail to preserve intact for the last two years.
The Dems want you to spend $10,000 to save a dollar. They won't give an inch and have stubbornly refused to listen to reason for two years. The illegality and remarkable fiscal irresponsibility of this regulatory scheme doesn't impress them. They tell us there's no safe level for lead . . . but the real danger appears to be that there is no safe level of Democrats in our government.
November, November. Mr. Waxman, go ahead and fiddle while Rome burns. We'll see you and your colleagues in the voting booth.