Sunday, August 22, 2010

CPSIA - CPSC Calls for Comments on 100 PPM Lead Limit

738 days have passed since ANY Democrat in Congress did ANYTHING to help us on the CPSIA. There are 73 days left until Election Day.

The CPSC recently called for comments on the CPSIA's scheduled reduction in permitted lead limits to 100 ppm on August 14, 2011. This is one of the most disruptive provisions of a truly disruptive law and therefore this call for comments DESERVES YOUR ATTENTION.

Let's review the situation - the CPSIA requires that the lead limit be lowered to 100 ppm if it is "technologically feasible" (Section 101(a)). This determination can be made product-by-product or even by product class. In other words, some of us might get a free pass because the CPSC decides it isn't "technologically feasible" for them, but the rest of us might get screwed. Figure that the big guys with the money to put in comments prepared by highly-paid consultants have an advantage here. Big surprise . . . .

The definition of "technological feasibility" is found in Section 101(d) in the CPSIA.

"(d) TECHNOLOGICAL FEASIBILITY DEFINED.—For purposes of this section, a limit shall be deemed technologically feasible with regard to a product or product category if— (1) a product that complies with the limit is commercially available in the product category; (2) technology to comply with the limit is commercially available to manufacturers or is otherwise available within the common meaning of the term; (3) industrial strategies or devices have been developed that are capable or will be capable of achieving such a limit by the effective date of the limit and that companies, acting in good faith, are generally capable of adopting; or (4) alternative practices, best practices, or other operational changes would allow the manufacturer to comply with the limit." [Emphasis added]

To help explain what "technological feasibility" means, I have coined this expression - "If Rolex can do it, you HAVE to do it." Yes, that means that this term has been defined to focus solely on technological capability with an explicit and intentional omission of any economic considerations (how expensive it might be for you to lower your products to this level). A single example of a product produced within these extreme limits is apparently an insurmountable obstacle to an exemption under this provision. No matter that it is extremely expensive. The all-platinum ATV comes to mind.

The meaninglessness of this reduction from a health or safety standpoint is likewise legally irrelevant.

A quick scan of the Request for Comment shows that the CPSC intends to follow its earlier path of exempting materials that are ALWAYS under the 100 ppm limit. I have "criticized" the conclusions of the previous CPSC effort. Expect nothing less than the insights from the CPSC's last try which authorizes the use of super-expensive materials and by-products of nuclear waste in children's products. Anyone for an osmium-laced baby blanket?

You will also note that there is ZERO reference to economics in the Request for Comment. In other words, money factors are totally irrelevant. This might matter to you if you project that this requirement could lead to sudden and deadly losses in your business or otherwise hasten your departure from the children's product market. Not that the Dems (who are driving this thing) or the CPSC give a darn about your little problems.

YOU NEED TO SEND IN COMMENTS ON THE 100 PPM LIMIT. Ideally, you will gather data and make a reasoned argument. PROTECT YOURSELF - this is an important request for comment. Comments are due on SEPTEMBER 27, 2010.

And one last note: despite your government's current attitude, this remains YOUR country. Please consider how you feel about a law like this and its impact on your stakeholders (owners, employees, customers, suppliers, consumers, community). You don't need to accept the fate Mr. Waxman and his merry band have in mind for you. There's an Election Day coming. Don't waste it.


Carlos Pero said...

Rick, but what do you think of this part of the emphasized clause?

"that companies, acting in good faith, are generally capable of adopting"

If the alternative process is too cost prohibitive, it stands to reason a company isn't capable of adopting it.

halojones-fan said...

@Carlos: Ho, ho, ho. You obviously haven't ever read up on the FDA's drug-approval process. If the company can't afford to do what the FDA requires then that's just too damn bad.

@Rick: Actually, it's more like...

(1) if Rolex does it then you have to do it.

(2) if Rolex could do it then you have to do it.

(3) if Rolex might be able to do it someday then you have to do it.

(4) in fact, you have to do things exactly like Rolex does.

Although it's actually rather interesting to combine (4) "best practices" with the notion of proprietary information and trade secrets...manufacturers will be required to make their entire process a matter of public record in order to be allowed to sell things!

Unless we're going to have situations where we know something's safe because it's got a "CPSC-approved" sticker; I mean, you or I can't go look at the actual testing records since it's "best practices verified", but rest assured that the same government who cleaned up the Gulf Oil Spill is on the job and keeping you safe!

Anonymous said...

I cannot possibly top @halojones-fan's comment. Beautiful - EXACTLY.