I have been tossing and turning about zippers ever since the April 29 House hearing. Perhaps you recall Steve Levy's demonstration of why thousands of pairs of pants and jeans were thrown away under the CPSIA to make you so much safer. As you know, you can't place a price tag on safety. Burn, baby, burn.
In response to questions by Ranking Member Whitfield, Steve Levy discussed lead in zippers at about the 47 minute mark in the testimony video. He noted that zippers are made of five to seven components, one of which has been found to have trace lead amounts in excess of current limits. The component in question is not accessible (it's sewn into the crotch of the pant) but since the CPSC can reach the component with a probe, it is considered violative. Fabric is not considered a "barrier" to access under CPSC rules. Bummer, that's thousands of pairs of pants into the garbage.
Self-appointed "Safety Czarina" Rachel Weintraub was quick to object to the horrors of Mr. Levy's jeans: "The problem is, unfortunately, that children mouth zippers all the time. You know I have three young children. My oldest child who is almost six, he mouths zippers as well. . . . The problem is that children interact with clothing in dynamic ways." This Rachel-speak is the version of "common sense" that imbues the CPSIA. Perhaps you recognized the valuable insights.
Whoa! Children are so "dynamic" with their clothes, this little zipper could be zapping IQ points every day. Wow. I am quite a worrier as you know, so I have been fretting about zippers almost non-stop for a month. After all, we clothed our children in pants with zippers since they were born (many years ago). I can't detect any missing IQ points in my kids, but of course, I am not nearly as smart as Rachel Weintraub or the other safety zealots perhaps as a result of my wearing jeans to this very day. Still, I could not ignore Rachel's serious warning but needed to better understand the danger.
So we asked a four-year-old volunteer to suck on his jeans zipper. Here's what happened. Don't worry, no IQ points were killed or harmed in the making of this video.
WARNING: The following video contains dramatic footage of a four-year-old attempting to suck on his jeans zipper. Such graphic footage may not be appropriate for everyone. Please think carefully about watching the video if you are a member of a consumer group.