Wednesday, April 27, 2011

CPSIA - The CPSIA Testing "Dilemma"

As the House considers how to move a CPSIA Amendment forward, the issue of third party testing looms large.  Why?

That's a really good question. 

You may recall reports that FOUR Members of Congress asked consumer advocates for a list of "victims" of lead-in-substrate at the April 7th hearing.  No names were offered nor were they promised.  This makes perfect sense to the consumer advocates - after all, lead harms "silently" and consequently, it's okay for them to assert that there are victims without being able to prove it.  You can call that "Consumer Group Accountability".  Nice work if you can get it.  So I wonder - if a consumer advocate hears voices in his/her head, do the voices' deranged instructions need to go in the law, too?  It seems to me that if a consumer advocate perceives something, we must accept that it's real, no questions asked.  I assume the answer is yes these days.

Notwithstanding the "gravity" of Rachel Weintraub's assurances, the assertion of invisible lead victims flies in the face of ordinary experience, not to mention logic.  Let's posit that lead harms silently and MOST victims would go undetected.  [I am POSITING this, not conceding this.  I can't buy the assertion that NO victim would ever be detectible - even the advocates don't take that ridiculous position.]  It is indisputable that lead poisoning comes from exposure to lead.  You must come in physical contact with it AND it must make its way into your blood stream.  The mechanisms for lead entering a child's bloodstream are limited to two - breathe it in or take into your digestive system.  Breathing in lead-in-substrate has never been identified as a pathway, so it appears that the only mechanism possible for lead poisoning from lead-in-substrate is ingestion through contact.  You have to put it in your mouth.

Notably, kead poisoning is identified by elevated blood lead levels.  Hence another factor must be considered - namely the lead mass consumed in relation to the volume of blood circulating in a child.  In other words, one must consume XXX milligrams of lead per period to obtain and maintain dangerous blood levels depending on your age (body mass).  Clearly exposure is the critical factor here - the more lead you ingest, the higher your blood lead level would be (theoretically).  [To read a real scientist's explanation of this mechanism of lead poisoning in children and all the footnotes and asterisks to this simplified description, read Dr. Barbara Beck's testimony from the April 7th House hearing.]  Ignoring absorption rates and other provisos from the real world for purposes of this discussion, it all boils down to exposure, right?

Consider that there are 50+ million children in the United States in the regulated age range.  [The VAST majority of lead problems occur in children under five.]  Those 50+ million children span a wide spectrum of life styles, habits, living quarters, adult supervision and mental health.  They have literally TRILLIONS of annual interactions with products regulated by the CPSIA.  Based on my experience and observation, I will assert that some of them, a material but small number, interact obsessively with children's products and mouth them inappropriately.  These few children are extreme cases.  You read about kids like this all the time.  They are the kids who munch down 20 high strength magnets just for the heck of it.  Those kids would exhibit lead poisoning from lead-in-substrate if it were possible in the real world.

So where are these kids?  Can we find any of them?  Apparently not.  They are not in the medical literature.  They are not in the popular media.  They and their parents have not appeared as witnesses at CPSC hearings or on the Hill.  They are not known to the nutjob consumer advocates. They are not known to the ignorant Democratic staffers who staunchly defend this law. [Even though there are 2.2 billion children in the world, most of whom live in conditions ripe with the possibility of lead-in-substrate poisoning, they are not known anywhere else on Earth either, to my knowledge.]  They are not known to ANYONE ANYWHERE.

There's a simple reason for this - they don't exist. 

And if there are no known victims and not one extreme example can be found here or anywhere, I have to ask - why does my government insist that we test our products obsessively?  To what end?

What permits the federal government to blindly demand this of me?  Why isn't the government required to PROVE that there is a REASON that we must burn our money?  If this is all "politics", why aren't jobs, market vitality, well-stocked schools and lean government ALSO "political" considerations?  Is scamming the public about health risks to kids the only way Dems know how to buy votes?

And one more thing - if all of our products comply with the (ridiculous and unjustified) lead standards but we don't test, should I go to jail?  Is this law about safety . . . or about process?  Does Washington really think we're all morons?

You can answer that for yourself.

1 comment:

Paul said...

Rick, I like to make a comment about consumer advocates.

Firstly, the original advocates of CPSC are reasonable and sensible people who have made the Consumer Market a safe and functional environment for all stakeholders, including the businesses and consumers. Safety is a real issue to them. They are justly to be called Consumer Advocates.

Nowadays, for people like Rachel Weintraub to be called “Consumer advocates”, I am not comfortable with that at all.

People like Rachel Weintraub are story tellers. This is what they do, and how they make a living. I respect that, but please do call them Consumer Advocates. They would try to make their stories more convincing by saying, “It’s a possibility”. They don’t have to prove anything. Again, they just are story tellers. Empirical studies and scientific evidences on safety are irrelevant to people like Rachel Weintraub. They are story tellers; please don’t expect much genuine concern of public safety form them.

But that fact is some of these story tellers like Rachel Weintraub are very good story tellers; so good that our Democratic Leaders will feed the public with them and their stories.

I recall seeing her appearance on the Congressional hearing with so much conviction and faith in her eyes when she is telling “stories”.

This is sad. In a time like this, instead of confronting problems pragmatically, our government still wants to play with fairy tales.