Thursday, April 28, 2011

CPSIA - CPSC Shows Its True Colors in the Annals of Absurdity

In a move calculated to test the limits of what I can get you to believe, the CPSC last week conducted a raid in New York City to confiscate imported chocolate Easter eggs to save America from a choking hazard. 

This event has garnered a little bit of publicity.  I wonder why . . . .   Seems so logical.

Here is a picture provided by Fox News coverage of this event.  I wonder who was there to capture the moment on film . . . .

You can see that the CPSC really means business now. The safety of children is just too IMPORTANT.

Admiring retailers could not wait to sing the CPSC's praises:

"Jigs Patel, who recently opened the London Candy Co. on the Upper East Side, where he is importing candy from the U.K., had already run out of his Kinder eggs by the time he got his visit from a CPSC official just before Easter.  'They obviously took this very seriously,' Patel said. 'I actually found it very amusing. It's a bloody chocolate with a toy inside. It's not smuggling crack cocaine.'"  [Emphasis added]

Perhaps strangely, the American public did not immediately appreciate the service provided by the federal government:  "[Mr. Patel] said that customers in the store that day found it funny, too. 'They were like, 'Don't they have better things to do than hunt down Kinder eggs?' The phone at London Candy Co. rang off the hook after DNAinfo's article ran with people seeking the hard-to-find chocolates. 'The phone went nuts,' Patel said. "The people still want it.'"  [Emphasis added]

As the Village Voice notes, "[c]hildren in Europe, where the eggs are manufactured, are apparently more impervious to choking than their American counterparts, or perhaps their parents are less inclined to let them eat plastic."  Still, other news outlets noted the severity of the safety threat:  "At least two children, one in England and one in Ireland, died after choking on the toys roughly 20 years ago, according to reports. . . . 'It is an ongoing investigation,' [CPSC spokesman Stacey] Palosky said. 'We want to continue to alert parents about these around Easter. We want parents to know these should not be in children's hands.'"

It's an ongoing investigation of the incidents 20 years ago.  Must find the real killers . . . .

Thanks, Mom!

Your tax dollars at work!  What would we EVER do without these guys protecting us so ably?

Dreaming of another budget crisis so we can find out . . . .

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

CPSIA - More Lives "Saved" by the CPSIA Database

These breathtaking database entries were submitted to me by Anonymous in a comment on my previous database blogpost.  Lest you should miss these little gems, I am reposting them here for your reading pleasure.  These are real filings, paid for by your tax dollars.  I have provided links in case you are skeptical.

And why did Anonymous submit this comment anonmymously?  "Submitted anonymously, because hey, if they can."

Indeed. . . .

Mirrored screen protector for IPhone  [Eyes "zapped" by the iPhone - ouch!!]

I purchased a mirrored screen protector for my I- phone, within one week I was having pain, sensitivity, and weariness in my eyes. It took me a few days to figure out what had happened but I am certain that the mirrored quality of that screen saver is very harsh on eyes. Three days after purchasing the screen protector, I noticed while on my drive to work that the world seemed somehow much brighter, I had to wear sunglasses while driving on an overcast day, still there was just to much light. . . . At some point during that week I glance at my phone while at a stop light, the reflection absoloutley zapped my eyeballs. It was very painful and took several minutes to recover. . . . Several years ago I had had sunglasses with a similar reflective, mirror like quality and ultimately threw them away because they were so harsh on my eyes. I think this product would be particularly harmful to people who suffer fro migraines and I would be curious to know what safety testing it underwent.  [Emphasis added]

CFL Light Bulb  [Hope you're sitting down - CFL bulbs have mercury in them. Thanks, Eagle Eye!]

CFL bulb located in a lamp above kitchen table. My wife turned the lamp on and it immediately exploded, glass fragments landed on the kitchen table where my kids where sitting. As these things also contain Mercury! They should be banned!

Exploding Potato in Microwave  [Note to CPSC - get working on that potato recall.  It's URGENT!]

At 11am this morning i placed a potatoe in my microwave and pressed the bake potato button on the key pad approx. 3 min later my entire microwave was engolfed in flames. My house was filling with smoke flames were shooting out of the microwave door my hudsband opened the door and threw a bucket of water on the entire wall over my stove. I called 911 and they assessed the microwave and did testing with a heat devise on the wall behind and above cuboards to make sure fire was out and informed me that heat level was extremly high and good thing i was right there to put out fire. . . . I was told by all 3 companys that there in fact had not been a recall on this product and for me to contact their legal dept if unsatisfied with their service. They also informed me that if a product is recalled it is only warrantied for 90 days. I asked so if my house burns down because of one of your products that has been recalled over 90 days ago you are not liable for that? They then told me to contact their legal dept they couldnt help me with this matter...

[But what about the potato?  What about the potato???]

Britax Vigour stroller manufactured 10/2006  [It's just too dangerous to allow strollers to unfold.]

I was taking the stroller out of my car and I had the latch on. As I pulled it out to place the stroller on the ground it began to open and the latch failed. I was unable to stop it due to the weight of the stroller and it opened and caught the skin of my abdomen. It was trapped and I was unable to get it off for nearly 5 minutes. I was alone in a parking lot with my baby in his car seat in the car. Once I got it off I was in extreme pain and had pinch markings and bleeding. The next day My abdomen had a 6" bruise. I still currently 8 months later have a very bad scar that I do not think will ever go away. I feel that this stroller is unsafe and have been terrified to use it ever since.  [Emphasis added]

Oven to table cookware (sold by QVC)  [Is the CPSC certifying consumers as authorized test labs now?]

I ordered Temp-tations cookware from QVC. It is handpainted in China. I tested it for lead paint and the result was positive. I conducted the test several times.

[I don't know about YOU, but I am convinced!  Actually, I'm not.  We sell to QVC, and their safety practices are top notch and uncompromising.]

Handpainted Dinnerware  [This one DEFINITELY will save lives - did you know glassware gets hot in the microwave?  Who knew?!  Thanks for looking out for us, Congress.]

I have some Gibson dinnerware and some of it, especially the cups, get so hot when put in the microwave that you cannot touch them when they used to reheat or heat fluids. The handles get so hot they burn your finger so badly. Several times they have gotten so hot I have dropped the cup and broken them as have the plates been dropped. I am concerned that the dinnerware may be high in metal content.

Reply:  Not knowing the specific product that the consumer has, we can not provide any detail about the material used. There are some materials used that are more porous than other materials. the more porous the material the hotter that it will become to the touch. These products Gibson Overseas marks as 'Will Get Hot in the Microwave".

[I call this a public service!]

Pottery Park Designs "Village Collection"   [Some of these filers should get together to compare notes.]

About 2 years ago I purchased some dinnerware, I believe it is pottery. It is made by Park Designs, called Village Collection. It's taken me this long to learn that it is not Microwave safe, even though it states that on the bottom. It gets hot enough to burn fingers.

Reply:  All of our Dinnerware and Bake ware are tested for US FDA Leachable Lead and Cadmium, California Prop 65, Dishwasher Safe ,Microwave Safe at BUREAU VERITAS Hong Kong Limited. We have never had a claim such as this.  Any dish placed in a microwave with food in it will conduct heat and will depend on the time and level of energy used to determine the heat of the dish.  We consider the product safe for use.

[I have $20 that says the responder was not saying everything on his/her mind . . . .]

Expedition LX Jogging Stroller   [Note to Self:  Remove baby before folding stroller. Check twice before putting away, too.  Mistakes happen, you know.]

The consumer says the handles on each side of the stroller that are oval shaped, meant to fold up the stroller. The oval openings are also for handling the stroller in the fold position to carry around. Consumer says when child is in the stroller, the child can stick his arm straight through the oval openings. Consumer says her child is 17 months old, and feels he can break his forearm with this product. Consumer contacted manufactuer and they offered no assistance and told her the child must have not been properly strapped in. Consumer says it doesnt matter if child is strapped in or not, they can still get their hands stuck in the oval openings.

Reply:  The report states that a child can stick his arms through the handle openings. The report also states that they feel a child can break his forearm with this product. Baby Trend has thoroughly evaluated the report but is unable to determine any such risk as reported. The product meets all requirements of ASTM standards, including requirements for maximum and minimum opening sizes, as demonstrated by numerous third-party tests. Baby Trend is unable to gain any additional information from the person reporting because they did not provide any contact information. Baby Trend believes the product is safe when used properly.

Intex Kidie Float #59586  [Used float purchased at thrift store does not perform as expected.  Hmmmm.]

No injury occurred because I was testing the device when I discovered the malfuction. . . . I purchased the kiddie float brand new in its original packaging from a local thrift store. It was purchased a few months ago. I took it out of it's packag this morning and blew it up to test it as we were planning on going to the pool today. I wanted to be sure there were no leaks. The stem cover opened on it's own after i blew it up and securly closed it into the device. I tried it again- I blew it up closed the stem cover inserted it into the floatation device and once again the pressure from the air in the floatation toy pushed the cap opened. This is extremely dangerous as it can cause a childs toy to deflate while in use in the pool and cause a possible drowning. . . . I due need to add that I later noticed that this product is for 2 and under and so I would have not used the device anyway since my child is 25 months old, but my child was NOT in it when I tested it and it malfunctioned!

Reply:  We contacted the submitter of the complaint and the issue of the valve not staying in place has corrected itself after the product, which was manufactured in 2003, regained its normal shape after being tightly folded in its original package for 8 years. The valve also has a self sealing function that limits the leakage of air if the cap is not properly inserted into the valve preventing sudden loss of air. In addition, the caregiver is warned to never leave the baby unattended and to always keep the baby at arm’s reach in the unlikely event that the float would lose air or any other issue arise. The submitter sent us the product and we have verified that it is functioning properly. Whenever using any children’s product, especially one intended for use in water, it is very important to ensure that it is functioning properly before being used. Any product that is malfunctioning, broken, missing parts or in need of repair should never be used. We applaud the submitter’s diligence in checking the function of the item prior to use.

[Can't argue with that last bit.  Emphasis added.]

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.

CPSIA - Rumorville on 15 Month Rule

Hope you haven't assumed that the "15 Month Rule" has gone away.  Apparently, the CPSC is mobilized to "finalize" this misbegotten rule in the next two weeks.  Brace for the impact - it promises to be cataclysmic.  Remember, our friends at the agency are sure you are about to start "dosing" kids with lead and have so informed Congress in writing.  All the better to scare the general populace.  They know no one can "stop you" except them. 

Jobs and economic recovery be damned, here comes the "15 Month Rule"!

CPSIA - A Consequence of Being Governed by Idiots

At what point will we all rise up and say we are SICK of the oppression of the CPSIA?

Today's offense is the discovery that an innovative educational products developer has begun to sell a chemistry kit that advertises that it is "chemical-free".  A chemistry kit without chemicals - nice.  It's like a rock kit without rocks (perhaps that's next).  A quick scan of the Internet reveals many mentions of this kit, a clear response to the arch regime imposed by the CPSIA and its implementer, the CPSC.  The reviews are derisive, of course. The linked article recalls cherished memories of playing with chemistry kits as a kid.  It notes that these products are being heralded in museum exhibits now.  The CPSIA has created INCENTIVES to make sure those days are in the past.  It's the caveman era in Washington nowadays.

At our company, we continue to resist the urge to just give up in the face of the onslaught.  We are educators and feel a higher calling than appeasing tyrannical bureaucrats.  This law is an offense to our reason to exist.

An interesting sidelight to this chemistry kit controversy is that the manufacturer of the kit is incorrectly identified as Elenco, a neighbor of ours.  In fact, the actual manufacturer is based in China.  Yes, that's right - the Chinese who do create products are adjusting to our troglodyte society by downgrading their products to meet our new low (intelligence) standard.  Is this an improvement we should cherish . . . or it is a harbinger of the predicted inevitable devastation ensured by this law?  You know where I stand on that one.

Finally, I would note that I spoke about the pressure imposed on science education by the CPSIA in my first speech on the topic on November 6, 2008.  Yes, almost three years ago now. . . .  You can watch the portion of that speech relating to science kits below.  It is unchanged - I spoke these words in NOVEMBER 2008.  We have really moved forward since then, haven't we?

The CPSIA remains a total failure of our government to properly do its job.  Sad but true.  The Dems are hopeless but where are the Republicans?  Hey, Republicans, when will help come?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

CPSIA - Database Entries of Gripes, Refund Disputes, Misuse, Poor Maintenance

More quality postings to the CPSIA Database - saving lives 24 hours-a-day!!! 

The database advocates and the CPSC strongly defend the database as a means to "save lives".  This assertion has no basis in fact and none are offered, other than heart-rending stories of crib deaths that "could have been prevented" had a database existed.  By stressing the possible loss of life, the advocates overstate the likely value of the database well beyond any data anyone could supply.  The CPSC pledged to keep the database entries clean of grips, quality complaints, slander, inaccurate claims and the like.  Are they doing their job?  Is the database "saving lives"?

Read on and judge for yourself.

Please note that REAL businesses must reply to these entries.  Each reply costs money, and there are legal fees behind many of these replies.  The transaction costs can only be justified if they produce a positive result.  Where is it?  You can tell from the replies that the businesses are trying desperately to prevent damage to their brands and their products.  Is this the government we want?  Is this the government WE WANT TO PAY FOR?

Play Center Rope Ladder

My children were playing on this item in our backyard. The wooden rung on the rope ladder snapped in two, causing one child to fall onto another. The child who fell was cut by the sharp edge of the broken ladder rung. The child who was fallen on hit is head on the ground when he fell.

Reply:  Little Tikes contacted the consumer and determined that the rope ladder was worn and weathered and was 6 years old. Although signifcantly out of warranty, Little Tikes elected to replace the consumer's rope ladder.

Lasko Heater

I understand this product is not safe - there is a potential fire hazard. I do NOT have a box to return this product.  Would you please send one to me at work[?]

Reply:  Consumer was contacted by Lasko, but did not respond. Consumer does not state why she believes product is unsafe.

Lil Gourmet

My two year old received the Children's Stainless Steel Cookware Set 5 Pc. by toysmith for Christmas osld by HomeGoods. My two and one year olds were playing with the set this morning. I heard my one year old scream. During play, the Sauté Pan's handle and pan came a part. My toddler took the handle to my one year olds face. He must have held the looped end and placed the open ended two prong end to my one year olds face. The handles open ends are blunt and small. My one year old sustained two scratches starting above his right eye on his eyelid and continue down to the middle of his cheek. He has two identical marks due to there being two pieces of metal. The marks resemble that of a scratch from a cat. Each is swollen with a white line and red irritation around the scrathings.

Reply:  Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the incident with our Stainless Steel Cookware Set.  This set, in our Lil’ Gourmet line, has been in our catalog for several years without issue and has been tested extensively for both US and European standards to the stringent protocols for ages 3 and up despite this product being clearly age-graded for the ages of 5 and above.  This item is not a toy. It is stainless steel cookware intended to be used as a child’s first cooking set. In addition to being labeled 5 and up on both the front and the back of the product, it is also stated that “Adult supervision is required.” We have uploaded our current testing documentation and would be happy to provide more information to the CPSC if required.


This is for the Evenflo triple jungle exersaucer. My daughter encountered two seperate hazards. Her arm became stuck between the band animals when she was 6 months old. We removed that toy. After converting it to an activity table, it constantly collapses under my 10 mo old where she has hurt herself without any evidence of injury. Very disappointed in this product.

Reply:  From the consumer's description of the product, Evenflo believes that this report refers to the ExerSaucer® Triple Fun Activity Center. Evenflo was unable to confirm, however, that the subject product was manufactured by the company because the consumer did not respond to repeated written requests for more information. Consequently, Evenflo's investigation and response are limited only to the allegations contained in the consumer’s report and Evenflo’s information about the product believed to be at issue. The consumer reported two concerns with the Triple Fun, neither of which resulted in a specified injury to her child. First, the consumer stated that her child's arm was "stuck" between two elements of a pod toy. The toys used on all Evenflo products meet the mandatory requirements of ASTM standard F963, including requirements for clearances and openings. This is the only report of this nature received by the company about the Triple Fun since production began in 2009, and the company has sold hundreds of thousands of units. This report appears to relate to the cognitive inability of a very young child to understand how to remove her arm from certain portions of the pod toy, and does not represent a potential product hazard.

The consumer further reported that, when the Triple Fun is used as a play table (the third and final stage of use for this multi-stage product), she felt the unit was unstable when used by her 10-month-old child. Although the consumer states the child ”hurt herself,” no specific injury is described. In the third stage of use, the Triple Fun converts to a play table intended for use by children of walking age through approximately 24 months of age. Notably, the play table stage is not designed rigidly so as to provide a seating surface, a platform for climbing or for assistance to pull-up from a sitting to standing position, any of which could result in a fall, particularly with a child just beginning to walk. Due to the limited information contained in the consumer’s report, however, the company does not know how the child was using the Triple Fun when the alleged instability occurred, or even if the child was at the appropriate developmental age for use of the product in Stage 3.

The company continues to believe the Triple Fun is safe when properly used, offering consumers a multi-stage (play mat, stationary activity center and play table) product for children age birth through 24 months.

John Deere


Cookin for Kids Dinnerware

Kids dinnerware play set. We used an XRF analyzer and testing results showed the plate contained over 300 ppm of lead AND mercury.

Reply:  This product has been tested against applicable standards and passed.

Dora the Explorer Guitar

My daughter recieved a Dora Tunes Guitar by Fisher Price for her birthday yesterday. She loves Dora, so we immediately opened it and discarded the package. When she pressed a button, I was shocked at how very loud it was! I took it from her and looked all over for a volume control figuring it must have been set at the factory for selling purposes and could be adjusted by the consumer. Sadly, there is no volume control! I attempted to put tape on the speaker, but it is not in a very accessible spot & I did not have much luck. I turned the guitar off, but having heard that it makes noise, my daughter was less than thrilled. After her bath while we were using the hair dryer, I turned it back on and was shocked that it could still be heard loud & clear over the hair dryer. I fear that this toy is unsafe due to the excessive noise. It hurt my ears, I can only imagine how damaging it is to a two-year-old's small ears!

Dynacraft Bicycle

On March 14, 2011 my daughter was riding one of my bicycles along with her father. The pedal came out of it's socket and the jagged threading protruding out of the bicycle tore into her leg (calf). This resulted in a laceration large enough to require seven stitches at the emergency room that very evening.

Reply:  Dynacraft has reviewed the above numbered report and provides the following comment in response. The information contained in this comment is true and accurate to Dynacraft’s best knowledge, information and belief. The mother of a 32 year old woman reported that the pedal of her bicycle that her daughter was riding, Dynacraft model 8549-54, came off causing an accident. There was an injury but no loss of control was reported. Dynacraft is the distributor of such a bicycle and they are sold to Target for resale around the United States.

In repose to this data base posting Dynacraft has had its Risk Management Team contact the rider to learn more detail about the incident and is now in the process of resolving a compensation claim that was first made during this contact. Dynacraft has not been able to examine the subject bicycle but the rider has provided three low resolution digital photos of the bicycle’s bottom bracket area. A tracking sticker can be seen in one of these photos and it shows that the bicycle was manufactured in 2000 and thus is over ten years old. The bicycle was purchased by the rider’s mother when she was employed by Target, and the bicycle has spent most of the ensuing years in the rider’s parent’s garage.

From the telephone interview it was learned that bicycle has not been regularly used and thus not maintained since it was purchased at Target over ten years ago. On the day of the accident the rider was using this bicycle to take a ride with her father. The rider did not know if her parents retained the manual for the bicycle. Dynacraft also learned that her mother had not correctly reported the incident and what happened was that the left crank arm came off the chainwheel axel, the rider stopped the bike with the brakes but the rider cut her leg on the axel while doing so.  Dynacraft’s bicycles ship with a manual and the manual is also available on Dynacraft’s web site:  The warranty is in the manual and at the time of the accident the drive elements of the bicycle were out of warranty for over 8 years. In addition pages 88 and 89 provide maintenance instructions for the “cotterless crank” on model 8549-54. The incident and long history of no maintenance described by the rider strongly suggests that the incident resulted from the recommended maintenance described in the manual not being done. The applicable portions of those recommendations follow:  Adjustment After Use: 
1. Remove dust cap.
2. Tap the crank arm lightly with a mallet.
3. Re-tighten the flange nuts, and refit the dust cops.

New cotterless cranks may become loosen with initial use. Tighten the flange nuts after several hours of riding, and repeat it two or three times after further use. Cranks should then remain tight. . . .  Lubrication and Adjustment - Cotterless Cranks   To adjust the free play in a three piece type bottom bracket, loosen the lock ring on the left side by turning it counter-clockwise. Then turn the adjusting cup as required. Re-tighten the lock ring taking care not to alter the cup adjustment." 

Never the less Dynacraft will continue to seek a resolution of the matter with the rider who was injured. Dynacraft requests that this comment be published in the Consumer Product Information Database, and hereby consents to such publication.

Value City Sectional

I purchased a sectional couch from Value City Furniture in Fredericksburg VA on 4-11-2010 in the amount of $1723.71. I paid for extended fabric/warranty. I also paid for the delivery. 7 months after the furniture was delivered, one section of the couch began to sink inwards. I contacted the company in November of 2010. On 12-27-2010, a representative came over and took pictures as did I. I was told that it will be replaced in 6-8 weeks. To date, I have not had calls returned or this couch fixed. The big dent in the couch is very low and cannot be sat on. It seems that someone can fall through the damaged part of the couch,if the couch is utilized. I ve contacted the BBB, Value city and also will file a warrant in debt. I have tried numerous times to be refunded money or have the piece replaced. I not getting results.

Stihl Chainsaw

I was using a MS361 chainsaw that had received a recall notice from STIHL and had the necessary repairs completed at R.H.McCrary. I was operating said chainsaw on Wednesday, March 2, 2011 at about 11:10am when the throttle trigger stuck as a I was removing the chainsaw blade from the trunk of a tree I was in the process of cutting. The chain kept its high turning speed instead of reducing to idle speed and the result of this caused the blade to "jump-back". I attempted to throw my leg out of the path of the blade but was not quick enough. The chain knicked my left leg just below my kneecap. I was taken to the ER where I recieved stitches to sew up two separate lacerations. I have photo documentation of the wound from before stitches were applied and from after the lacerations were stitched. I am not a first-time chainsaw user and have used multiple types of chainsaws and multiple brands while working for my mother's firewood and tree clearing business.

Reply:  At STIHL Incorporated, safety is a top priority, and we are sorry to hear that you were injured while using a STIHL product. To help us better understand your experience, please contact us directly at 1-800-GO-STIHL and press “2” for Technical Services.  It is our understanding that the throttle trigger of the chain saw had been repaired just prior to the accident, and you believe the repair may have contributed to the accident. During our inspection of your employer’s chain saw, however, we were unable to replicate any sticking of the throttle trigger. We did note that the chain saw had been heavily used and not well maintained. Among other things, the muffler was loose, an AV spring was broken and there were large quantities of debris and saw dust in the air box and around the throttle linkage/master control switch.

We hope that we will have the opportunity to speak with you directly. Learning more about your accident will help us determine what may have caused it. We thank you for calling this matter to our attention.

Baby Trend Stroller

The front wheel of my Baby Trend Expedition Stroller fell off 3 times. After the first time they sent me hardware to fix myself. The wheel then fell off a second time. I then sent it back to Baby Trends and they said they would repair it or send me a brand new stroller. They sent me back the old one, claiming it was fixed. I lent it to a friend to use after taking it on one walk. They went for a jog and the front wheel fell off again sending him and his son flying onto the pavement! The Dad suffered cuts on his hands and knees but fortunately he was able to protect the son from injuries. The stroller is obviously faulty. There have been other complaints on various websites about the front wheel and they have done nothing to resolve the situation. The stroller should be recalled. I don't want any other products from them, I want my money back so I can use it towards a stroller from a BETTER company!

Reply:  According to consumer, the product was purchased on or before 4/1/2010. On 10/4/2010 Consumer contacted Baby Trend requesting replacement parts for the front fork assembly stating assembly came apart somehow. Replacement parts were sent to consumer at that time. 4 months later on 2/10/2011 consumer then contacts Baby Trend again wanting money back for product because they were unable to get
replacement parts to work properly. Baby Trend then paid to bring product in for warranty evaluation and correctly replaced the parts for the consumer. The product was evaluated by engineering and determined to be in perfect working condition, other than normal wear for being used for approximately one year. The product was returned to the consumer. 3/18/2011 consumer contacts Baby Trend again requesting a refund.

Disney Princess Light

We have the disney princess chandelier and the plastic crystal piece became lodged next to the light bulb and melted it. I do have pictures and the lamp if it is needed to be seen.

Hunter Boots

Rubber Boots that leak a white powder substance.

Reply:  Here is an explanation of this issue from the company’s website:

What is the white residue on my Hunter boots?  Occasionally, it is possible that white marks will appear on your Hunter rubber wellington boots. This is called 'blooming', it is your boots attempting to protect themselves from environmental damage.  Every Hunter rubber wellington boot is made from 100% natural ingredients and small amounts of wax are included in the rubber compound during the vulcanization process that is used to make each pair. When exposed to certain environmental factors, this wax can "bloom" to the surface and appear as white marks. This is not a defect with the boots, and is completely natural. If this does happen, you can wipe this blooming clean with a warm, damp cloth. We recommend UV Tech* Spray which can be found at boating, hunting or fishing stores.

Pogo Stick

Bottom of stick came apart.

Reply:  Thank you for transmitting this to us. We would like to follow up with this customer, but are unable to without the contact information. This product issue described is the subject of a recall announced on March 16, 2011.

Ariel Fountain

Daughter cut thumb on Ariel Fountain and Bubble Boat while playing with it in tub.


I am contacting you in the hopes that you will take action to help prevent other consumers from making a significant investment in furniture that literally falls apart and presents a safety hazard to families with young children.  In its corporate marketing materials, La-Z-boy promises furniture made with "durability,” "high standards,” "wear tested fabrics,” and "superior quality” – however my actual experience with the furniture has been dramatically to the contrary – and the company refuses to properly address potentially dangerous quality issues. I purchased a leather couch and loveseat from La-Z-boy approximately five years ago. I invested $3000 in the set – and was assured that these leather pieces would be able to stand the test of time. After only 2.5 years, the leather began pulling away on the arm of the couch, exposing sharp staples. I contacted the company and communicated that I was concerned about the quality of the piece and its potential longevity. After extensive follow up, they finally agreed to send an upholsterer to repair the piece. 

A few years later, in the Fall of 2010, we again faced another significant quality issue - the plastic piping began popping through the loveseat cushions, creating an area with exposed plastic piping that is approximately 10-12 inches long presenting a choking hazard for our 2-year old. We again contacted the company – and they have refused to do anything about the furniture, but rather focused on shifting blame
indicating that we must have caused the damage -- even though for the vast majority of the life of the furniture, it was only being used by two adults and we also purchased the leather protection treatment when we first invested in the piece. Since our rejected La-Z-boy inquiry, we contacted a Boston area leather repair company to assess the furniture for repair. The representative of this company visited our home in January and estimated that it would likely be too costly to justify repairing the piece. This representative also indicated that the most likely cause of the piping issue was not in fact user wear, but rather poor manufacturing using leather that was too thin to encase the piping to fully protect it from breaking through the leather.

For your reference, I am attaching photos of the La-Z-boy furniture. I truly hope you will be able to make this company accountable for the quality issues we have experienced. I also strongly encourage you to investigate how many other pieces from the same manufacturing batch could be affected with either exposed staples and/or piping to prevent any other families from a potentially dangerous situation that could harm their young children.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me. Also, I would love to be kept abreast of your investigation if possible.

Reply:  This consumer contacted La-Z-Boy in March of 2008 to complain about a broken upholstered arm on her furniture. La-Z-Boy replaced the arm, without charge for parts or labor, even though the furniture was 2½ years old. In November of 2010, the consumer again contacted La-ZBoy, this time saying that the cushion welting had popped through the leather. Since this was a wear issue on a five-year-old love seat, La-ZBoy declined to provide a warranty repair. The consumer’s concern relates solely to the quality of a product and not to a risk of injury.

Glade Plug-In

My husband awoke on the morning of Monday, March 14th at approximately 6:00 a.m. and woke me up because it smelled in the living room as though something was burning. After we both circled the perimeter of the living room we determined that the burning smell was coming from the almost brand new Glade Plug-In (by SC Johnson) Plugged in to an outlet in our living room. Once we unplugged the item, the burning smell started to dissipate. Heaven forbid had that happened while we weren't at home I can only imagine what would have happened. Incidentaly, the outlet that the Glade Plug-In was plugged into is no longer operational and the breaker keeps flipping causing the electricity in the adjoining rooms to not work. We have had to call a licensed Electrician who is coming out this afternoon (Tuesday, March 22nd) to determine what damage the Plug-In did to our electricity in our home and get it repaired. I find it absolutely abhorrent that an unsafe item such as this is allowed to be on the market as it is truly a fire hazard! We have saved the Glade Plug-In that caused the damage and will certainly provide any information we can to anyone who needs it to research this further including the receipt from the electrician this afternoon. Thank you for researching this matter further.

Reply:  SC Johnson is submitting this initial response to Report 20110322-90A21-2147481070 which describes a consumer’s concern with an air freshener product that was plugged into what the consumer described as a malfunctioning electrical outlet. SC Johnson has confirmed that it has not been contacted by the consumer about her concerns. However, in her database entry the consumer indicated that she intended to contact SC Johnson about the incident. For that reason, SC Johnson sent an e-mail to the consumer on April 5, 2011, inviting her to call an SC Johnson Consumer Relationship Center representative. A copy of that message has been copied at the end of this response. In that e-mail SC Johnson also asked the consumer to preserve the product and the malfunctioning outlet so that her concerns could be fully investigated. To date, the consumer has not responded to SC Johnson. Because there has been no positive product identification and because neither the product nor the outlet has been made available for an inspection, SC Johnson cannot provide definitive information about the incident. However, SC Johnson is confident that its PlugIns® air freshener products are safe when used as intended and SC Johnson is aware of no test data that would indicate that a PlugIns® product can cause the concerns identified by the consumer. In fact, millions of PlugIns® products are used without incident each year and the products are thoroughly tested by SC Johnson and independent laboratories before they are placed on the market. Additionally, all PlugIns® products bear the Underwriters Laboratories’ mark.

In her submission, the consumer stated that the outlet in which the air freshener was in use “is no longer operational and the breaker keeps flipping causing the electricity in the adjoining rooms not to work”. This description seems to indicate that the problem noticed by the consumer could not have been caused by an air freshener product which draws a minimal current but rather that the problem is with the home’s electrical supply system. Nevertheless, SC Johnson remains willing to have its representatives inspect both the air freshener product and the outlet and SC Johnson will share the findings of the inspection with the consumer. SC Johnson invites the consumer to contact SC Johnson so that her concerns can be investigated. Pursuant to 16 C.F.R § 1102.12, SC Johnson verifies that it has reviewed the database Report and that its responsive comments relate to that Report and that the information contained in SC Johnson’s comments is true and accurate to the best of SC Johnson’s knowledge. Finally, SC Johnson requests that its responsive comments be published in the database and SC Johnson consents to such publication.


Your recent contact to the Consumer Products Safety Commission was brought to our attention by CPSC. In the report you filed, it noted that you intended to contact our company directly. Since we haven’t heard from you, I thought that it was important for SC Johnson to follow up with you to see if you would like to talk with us. The situation you reported concerns us and we would like to learn more about the product you were using and what happened. Glade® PlugIns® products are used with confidence in millions of homes each year and they bear the Underwriters Laboratories mark and are subjected to extensive independent testing, as well as testing by SC Johnson.  So I might learn more about your experience, I invite you to contact me at 888-301-0033 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. Central time. Until we talk, please hold on to the PlugIns® unit and receptacle – they will be helpful as we work together to investigate this further.  Finally, we respect your privacy, and if you choose not to call me, we will not reach out to you again. However, we would welcome the opportunity to investigate your concerns

Bugaboo Frog Stroller

I own a Bugaboo Frog and had an accident today from which my son resulted injured. As I was leaving my apartment, the stroller hit a very small sidewalk bump. The bump caused to stroller to collapse and my son ended up face first on the concrete. My 10 month old son injured his lip and bled considerably from his nose, he now has a fairly large abrasion in his nose. The bump was very slight, certainly not large enough to cause a product that is designed to walk around in the city to collapse

Reply:  Bugaboo received the report on 30 March 2011. We appreciate receiving the reported information via the CPSC database for our prompt action.  Bugaboo has been in contact with the customer to learn about the situation. In contrary to the initial report the stroller did not collapse (fold) onto the child during this incident. Based on several discussions with the customer it is our current understanding wheels hit a bump causing the stroller to overturn. Bugaboo commissioned a review of its service and compliant database that showed no similar injury incidents have been reported in the past. Therefore, we have asked the customer to provide this stroller to us for a prompt and in-depth investigation. Bugaboo is committed to providing the involved parties results of its investigation as soon as possible.  The Bugaboo Frog is tested by an independent testing laboratory to the ASTM F833:2009, the US Standard Consumer Safety Performance
Specification for Carriages and Strollers, and it is JPMA Certified by the Juvenile Products Manufactures Association.  The customer will receive a replacement stroller to enable Bugaboo to complete an inspection of the incident stroller. Bugaboo is proud of the safety record of its child products and develops them with a deep sense of responsibility. Consumers are advised to always consult and follow the User Guide before operating the product and in case there are questions contact us directly for assistance.

Miracle Bubbles

While using Imperial Toy brand Super Miracle Bubbles, my daughter's lips made contact with the bubble solution (this is pretty normal for toddlers). A short time after she finished blowing bubbles, her lips turned completely white and the skin sloughed off! This caused an evening of pain for her and she could not eat any spicy or salty foods without crying. This happened two times because after the first I was not convinced the bubbles caused the reaction.

Reply:  Our bubble solution formula has been reviewed by Board Certified Toxicologist and found to be non-toxic and a non irritant.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

CPSIA - What You Get For Your Database Dollars

Selections from the CPSIA database, courtesy of an interested party. It's easy to see how careully the CPSC has been following its own rules on postings . . . .

“I don't think anyone should be wearing them and if they do try them, they should be made aware of potential injury and warned to discontinue use at the first sign of discomfort. I wish I had know.”
“Please consider taking the shoes off the market before more people are hurt.”
“each time the hat was placed on baby's head he would cry.” [Sorry just had to add this one, it was due to broken needle.]
“My ankle still hurts and probably will never be the same.”
“…still pains me with every step I take.”
 “I truly hope you will be able to make this company accountable for the quality issues we have experienced”

“I also strongly encourage you to investigate how many other pieces from the same manufacturing batch could be affected…”
“it didn't occur to me that there might be problems associated with a product being sold in a reputable store.”
“It appears that [Company name] has no concern whatsoever for Consumer Safety just profits.”
“We used an XRF analyzer and testing results showed the plate contained over 300 ppm of lead AND mercury.” 
“I did NOT want another product in my home from this manufacturer”
 “This product should be recalled.”

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

CPSIA - Dem CPSC Commissioner Bias Against Manufacturers MUST Be Stopped!

Before the April 7th House hearing on the CPSIA, the three Democratic CPSC Commissioners joined together to assert that in the absence of their "leadership" at the agency and their vaunted CPSIA law, manufacturers would be "dosing" children with lead in ever greater amounts. To be precise, they said they oppose "any change in the law that would lead to an increase in the doses of lead to which our children are exposed on a daily basis . . . ." According to them, changing the law means that "doses" of lead WILL increase (but leaving everything "as is", including their position at the helm, means that children will remain "safe"). In other words, they were warning Congress that "we" are planning to or will inevitably increase lead "doses" upon a change in the law.

Our company is a manufacturer of children's products, in particular educational materials and educational products. This scurrilous libel applies to me. I don't like it one bit, either.

Despite having previously raised this point in this space, I am still not quite sure people fully comprehend how offensive this action by Tenenbaum, Adler and Moore actually is. Of course, we all know the word "dosing" is offensive on its face. Everyone also knows that accusing me and my manufacturing peers of an absence of values and integrity, not to mention an actual present intent to harm children, is remarkably slanderous, unfair, untrue and completely unknowable. It's practically a blood libel. But what I don't think is clear is how grievously the three Democrats have violated a basic tenet of American social justice. in their panicky effort to appease consumer group zealots, the Dems have demonstrated a bias, a dyed-in-the-wool prejudice against an amorphous mass of people tied together only by false accusation.

It would be their undoing if they had used the same logic to attack just about anyone else.

Consider the following:

How would you feel IF Inez Tenenbaum said she was opposed to changes in CPSIA lead rules because she didn't want black people or gays to start "dosing" children with more lead?

or . . .

IF Bob Adler objected to changes in CPSIA lead rules because he said he wanted to prevent Jews from "dosing" children with more lead as they are wont to do?

or . . .

IF Thomas Moore pointed to Muslims as the principal danger in relaxing CPSIA lead rules?

The shock waves would reach tsunami heights. None of these people would still be working for the federal government, either. Public outrage would ride them out on a rail.

Of course, they didn't say any of these things (to my knowledge). Instead, the three Dem CPSC Commissioners stood shoulder-to-shoulder and simply said they can't abide the changes because manufacturers will "dose" children with lead. Can't trust manufacturers . . . .

This apparently is quite believable. The media bites down hard on the silly story, that's for sure. Consider Jeff Gelles of the Philadelphia Inquirer: "With bigger matters at stake, it was easy to overlook another drama unfolding last week: a little-noticed assault on the Consumer Product Safety Commission's efforts to improve children's safety and the transparency of its complaint-handling process. But it sadly fits right into the theme of a Republican Party eager to please its core constituencies - in this case, business groups that often bristle at any regulation, even ones designed to protect children from unsafe products."

If it's "obvious", it must be true, right? Yes, if you are biased . . . or a bigot . . . or gullible.

So apparently, it's "believable" when politicians abuse their power by accusing me of an intent to harm children (despite the fact that we have a virtually unblemished record of safety and I have devoted my business life to making children's lives better) - all because I am a member of a group called "manufacturers". Had they leveled the same accusation at me or at a group including me based on race, creed, color, gender, religion, sexual preference or some such, they would be banished from our government.

This is a dirty bias exposed, plain and simple. The Dems' accusation is also the height of cowardice, relying on political power to bludgeon a group of randomly-selected citizens for political gain. They know they have overwhelming power and are unlikely to be accountable for this malicious lie.

This isn't the first time Inez Tenenbaum has resorted to this kind of unscrupulous media and Congressional pandering. You may recall my outrage over her statement to ABC News on the first day of the Xmas selling season last year (September 30th) when she used the occasion of Mattel's 11 million unit recall to warn America against "manufacturers" who don't design in safety up front. In my blogpost entitled "Recall the CPSC", I questioned why Ms. Tenenbaum was warning American consumers about our company - after all, we are a manufacturer. What had we done to deserve this treatment from Ms. Tenenbaum? Had WE suffered a massive recall? Had WE injured children? Did she have ANY evidence that WE were doing a bad job of "[building] safety into the product from the very beginning"?

Nope, she didn't - she made that accusation without any cause to do so. Mattel erred (if they actually did), NOT US. This is called bias. Read her remarks but substitute in the words "Jews", "black people", "gays" or "Muslims" for "manufacturers" to see the effect clearly. She was WAAAAAY off-base, but who held her to account? No one. It's okay to have a bias against manufacturers.

What can we do about this? I think it's incumbent on Congress to do something about it. Let's be frank - Congress appointed these people and they are accountable for the government that we "enjoy". Is Congress ready to let bigotry and bias form the basis of our laws and our regulatory system? Is Congress ready to abandon its responsibility for oversight and to manage these rogues? How about a sense of basic fairness - there are huge numbers of manufacturers serving the American market. They are our neighbors, our friends, our relatives. Are we satisfied having a government run by people who HATE and DISTRUST manufacturers, think that "justice" involves taking away their due process and deciding cases before evidence is heard?

I sure hope somebody's listening. This is a MAJOR PROBLEM. It's time to end the reign of terror at the CPSC!

Monday, April 11, 2011

CPSIA - Comment to My Blogpost

I received this comment on my recent blog on lead:

"I am a victim of lead poisoning.

In one of Dana Bests written testimonies to Congress she suggests that the lead limit should be 40 parts per million, half of the 80 parts per million level at which a child loses 1/2 an IQ point. Given that she made no mention of blood levels or absorbability she seems to imply that 80 ppm in substrate = loss of 1/2 point of IQ.

Give these facts I can calculate my lost IQ. I was born with an IQ of approximately 6,350.

You see, as a child I played with solid lead toy soldiers. I started fishing at a young age and handled lead fishing weights frequently. I helped my dad make large fishing weights for bottom fishing with melted lead. Worst of all I clamped lead split shot onto fishing line with my teeth.

It's tragic really, the loss of over 6,000 IQ points. I could have solved world hunger. I could have unified relativity and quantum mechanics. Instead I'm just a normal IT guy.

Dana Best, with the help of her special calculator, is about to usher in a new age of soaring IQs. Soon we will all live forever and never get sick.

But this may never happen if we don't hold a righteous fear of lead in our heart.

Vote Democrat - BE AFRAID."

Sunday, April 10, 2011

CPSIA - CPSIA Amendment Process

I have been asked to explain how this week's hearing relates to a "process" leading to a CPSIA amendment someday. Good question.

I am certainly in no position to do anything more than give you my opinion. At the moment, the House Republicans have floated a draft (and still incomplete) amendment of the CPSIA. This is the third such major amendment try, but the first by the Republicans. The prior two amendments proposed by Henry Waxman died in the last Congress. You may recall many bills that have been proposed by various people to address various elements of the law. None of those bills have moved - they're basically DOA but perhaps some current bill, like Ms. Klobuchar's bill in the Senate, would eventually gain some traction.

Next steps include completion of the CPSIA amendment and a vote on it in the House. The amendment must gain a majority vote in the entire House after it passes out of the Committee on Energy and Commerce. As usual, the Committee will seek a bipartisan approach if at all possible. The path forward is not clear in the House at this point.

Assuming that the bill passes out of the House, then the bill proceeds to the Senate. Will they vote on it, propose their own version, or let it die? Your guess is as good as mine. There are definitely Senators left singing the old Waxman tune, we NEED this bill to PROTECT THE CHILDREN. Will they EVER relent? Will they ALL relent (that's important in the Senate)? Stay tuned to find out.

If the Senate approves its own version of the bill, a conference committee will form to negotiate a common bill for both Houses to approve. That's probably where the action will take place, far from your intruding eyes. Presumably, Mr. Obama will be consulted and his agreement secured. Mr. Obama wrote part of the CPSIA. Ugh . . . .

The last step is for Mr. Obama to sign the bill.

We are not exactly dancing in the end zone yet, although we've made progress. There will be more action to come.

CPSIA - Oh No, They Didn't Go Away

As you may have heard, the federal government stuck around this week. No shutdown, which means that the CPSC is still busy, busy, busy protecting us. We should all appreciate it. At least that's what they tell us.

So why do I have such a bad attitude? How would you feel if the people running this federal agency told Congress in writing that you were intent on poisoning children. They didn't accuse me by name, or you, but instead accused us all together. Perhaps they think we are all intent on doing it. They said, clear as day, that we were ready and waiting to "dose" children with lead. The purposefully-chosen word "dose" suggests an act of volition, something intentional and sinister. The word connotes an unwitting victim. Bottom line, they are saying that we are perversely stalking innocent children unaware of their "fate". Really, really nice. Especially by a Chairman of the CPSC and her cohorts holding a majority vote controlling the agency.

Those of us in business, we tend to take our reputation seriously. It is deeply offensive to be insulted by strangers, people unable to know us or our intentions. I don't think the word "slander" is too far a stretch. How can the three Democrats (Inez Tenenbaum, Bob Adler and Thomas Moore) be so arrogant to stand before Congress and assert that they (and their law) stand between the American consumer and infamy? I simply can't say. It really is disgusting.

Not only is this is a devastating insult, but it is frankly a crushing blow to the FUTURE restoration of trust in this agency. NEVER previously has there been such a broadcasting of intentions, a profound and dirty bias against manufacturers and in favor of media pandering. Whether they are taking instructions from someone off-stage or not, their letter to Congress confirms that they cannot be trusted to be fair or open-minded. The three Democrats are certainly not a government for all of us because manufacturers and retailers are now frozen out of the community. The Dems have pushed them out. This is not an American government anyone would want.

What will Congress do? Rumorville has it that I am not the only one whose jaw hit the ground and whose blood began to boil when they read the Dems' letter. Some people around town actually care about the fairness of government. Some people believe in fairness and are sensitive to any odor of ignorant prejudice, minds made up before evidence is presented. Some people believe government must be accountable. Some people believe there is no excuse for this kind of behavior.

The Dems put themselves in the soup. G-d willing, they will be held to account. Stay tuned.

Friday, April 8, 2011

CPSIA - If The CPSC Goes Out, Do You Think They'll Come Back???

With the Federal government about to shut down, one wonders - could we possibly live without the CPSC for a few days? I, for one, would very much like to find out.

But what about the CHILDREN, you say.

It's a horrifying thought. After all, with annual expenditures of north of $100 million per hyear and in recent times an obsession with children, the CPSC has managed to uncover one death allegedly tied to lead (swallowing a jewelry bangle) and three injuries tied to lead-in-paint over an 11-year period from 1999 - 2010. That's what you get for regulatory expense of more than $1 billion - four alleged injuries. Value for the dollar . . . .

In the last couple years, though, the federal government in its infinite wisdom has chosen to pass all regulatory cost increases on to YOU. Yes, in a new innovation making rising taxes obsolete, Congress raised YOUR costs by billions each year when it inflicted the CPSIA on America. I have previously presented an analysis based on Congressional testimony that estimates those costs at more than $5.6 billion each year. And I think that's low.

I know you're probably not a statistician, but what are the odds that lowering the ten-year results from four alleged injuries to zero alleged injuries would be considered statistically significant? I believe the answer is zero or very very low. $5.6 billion a year doesn't buy much, does it?

The scale of the threat was explored in a revealing moment yesterday when the infamous Rachel Weintraub of the Consumer Federation of America was asked by four different members of Congress for names or lists of victims of lead-in-substrate. She couldn't name any. Dana Best had no chance to answer such questions, because she bolted before questioning. I rather doubt the members were much in the mood to accept an answer of "jillions" anyway. I haven't had a chance to review the tape yet, but I understand Ms. Weintraub assured Congress in response to these queries that lead is a "silent" harm-doer. Rachel says there;s no way to tell . . . so I guess the implication is that we should assume millions of kids have been harmed. Possibly bazillions. Who knows?!

Has anyone considered the possibility that the injured children that only Ms. Weintraub and Dr. Best can see are IMAGINARY? Consider this argument: Rachel and Dana and their ilk have had three years to find a victim, any victim, at any time since Hector had pups. They have failed in this endeavor. Maybe Rachel and Dana didn't try, maybe they don't care. After all, they probably thinks they're right and who are we to challenge either of them. No response required. . . ..

But IF Rachel's right, why don't the numbers yield up MANY victims? It really shouldn;t be hard to find injured kids - which makes the failure to do so all the more galling. There are lots of children in the regulated age group - more than 50 million. That population is constantly changing because kids "age out". So if you look over a decade, say, you might be talking about 75+ million. What do these kids do? What all kids do. They play, they breathe, they eat, they ride ATVs, they lick bicycles, they suck on the ink end of pens, they consume fistfuls of rhinestones, the usual. Some of them oddly do extreme things. You are looking at a BIG population. Over a decade, that's HUNDREDS OF TRILLIONS of product interactions, some of them excessive. And yet there are no known victims. Hmmm. Perhaps this is a pretty low probability event. And not worth $5.6 billion a year in excess costs.

So when the CPSC goes out, will anyone notice? That;s a good question. It may be an experiment worth running. And if the world doesn't come to an end without them, perhaps Congress might find something new to cut when life gets back to normal.

There's no safe level of fear mongering, guys.

Your Friend,

The "Lead Doser"

Thursday, April 7, 2011

CPSIA - Three Dem CPSC Commissioners Accuse Industry (You) of Dosing Kids with Lead

In a revolting display of cowardly fear mongering, the three Democratic CPSC Commissioners yesterday wrote the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and its Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade to protest the proposed CPSIA amendment.  In this letter, in defense of the lead-in-substrate provisions, the Dems sow fear by suggesting what you might do:

"The CPSIA set one of the most protective lead limits for children's products in the world. The public health community continues to hold its overwhelming consensus: There is no safe level of lead.  We oppose any change in the law that would lead to an increase in the DOSES OF LEAD to which our children are exposed on a daily basis, particularly when the marketplace has for the most part already adjusted to lower lead levels and is well on its way to getting the lead out of children's products." [Emphasis added]

Hmmmm.  Apparently we evil toymakers, sinister educational product makers, monstrous t-shirt and jeans producers, venal shoemakers, diabolic rhinestone merchants, demonic ATV purveyors, fiendish motocross enthusiasts, vile vending machine operators, corrupt jewelers, slimy resale shop owners, worthless book publishers, perverse pen companies, satanic carpet weavers - we all are just waiting for the CPSC to look the other way so we can "dose" children with lead.  

This kind of asinine accusation normally would be something to deride and lampoon in this space, but in this case frankly, it's not at all funny.  Here you have three CPSC Commissioners with a majority vote (including Chairman Inez Tenenbaum) going national with serious, maligning insults of our values and our integrity.  They can hardly restrain themselves - they go further to assert that we have only "for the most part adjusted" to the new rules - you know, by firing people, cutting products, withdrawing from markets.

This is your "leadership" on the Commission.  I want to vomit.

CPSC Commissioners are appointed by the President.  I wonder if a better word is "planted".

The letters make clear where children have lead exposure risk.  Lead in D.C. tap water, no, that's fine - what can anybody do about THAT?  House paint, environmental sources - nah!  No, the real problem is industry and its "dosing" through children's products.  The last line of defense is the CPSIA.  The three Dem Commissioners put it succinctly - change the law and poison children. Better to over-regulate than under-regulate because it's a zero-sum game, right? 

As usual, the Dems don't mention that THEY CAN'T PRODUCE EVEN ONE INJURY VICTIM FROM LEAD-IN-SUBSTRATE IN CHILDREN'S PRODUCTS.  There are more than 50 million children in this country in the regulated age group and no one can find a single injury victim - EVER. Nonetheless they apparently think it's perfectly fine to wag their fingers at us and accuse us of unspeakable acts.  

Who'd say anything, anyhow?  Won't get fooled again. . . .

I guess we have a hint here how these people might vote on the technological feasibility of 100 ppm.  Giving them an extra year to lower the boom won't do anything to protect my employees or my customers - they are TELLING US that the die is cast.  That's because you and I apparently want to "dose" children with lead the first chance we get!  They reinforce the hyperbolic tone by standing pat on the age limits under the CPSIA - we NEED the 12 year old limit.  Why? Because Mommy says so.  Junk science to the rescue! We can't have kids eating their ATVs, can we?

Does anyone wonder why trust in this agency is destroyed beyond repair?  Who in the business community would ever expect to get a fair shake from these consumer group front men?  Government for all us?  Hardly.

Defending themselves on a weak point, the Dems contend they are sympathetic to small business. Myself, I can't measure commitment by limp and syrupy words of consolation - I look at what they do, not what they say.  These people have done precisely ZIPPO for small business after three years of begging, pleading, screaming.  I am tired of hearing about how much they CARE about small business. [Guess who drafted the letter?] As a friend of mine used to say, it's bullpucky.

Here's a shocker:  I actually agree with one thing these people say - that parents deserve safe products regardless of who makes them. Of course that makes sense (no one cares whether a tortfeasor is a big company or a small company) which is why I want sensible standards that apply equally to everyone. In this case, the government should stop telling us how to run our businesses.  Make a reasonable set of standards based on a real and defined "substantial product hazard" standard and go from there.  This is parent-friendly and quite workable for small business.

Of course, my suggestion would make these Democrats much less important and certainly less heroic.  Their letter makes clear who "saved" America - the CPSIA, the Dems in Congress and the Dems on the Commission.  They're the ones who really CARE.  

Won't get fooled again . . . .

Fittingly, the letter wraps up with words dripping with insincerity:  "Nevertheless, while it is true that no one, including us, wishes to over-regulate, similarly we cannot support under-protecting the American consumer, particularly our nation's children."

In other words, the Democrat Commissioners are daring Congress to loosen the nose around out necks and are prepared to blame them if anything goes wrong. This also provides cover for zealot Senators who will make sure you have a great opportunity to go bankrupt or remain under the thumb of their out-of-control agency.  I don't think it's much of a stretch to say it looks like a conspiracy - Democrats against you.

It would be wrong to call this letter disillusioning.  That happened a long time ago.  It also conveys little new information. Anyone truly shocked by this letter by these authors has been asleep at the wheel for the last three years.  This merely confirms or updates what we already knew.  I don't have a solution to people like this running the show.  I can't do anything about it.  One of them, Thomas Moore, is now about six months past the end of his term.  Maybe Congress forgot about him.  

Pay attention today.  The stakes are high and getting higher.  The CPSC is working against you.  We will need keep fighting to survive.

CPSIA - Witness List for April 7th CPSIA Amendment Hearing

Memo to Members of the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade:

When you listen to Dr. Dana Best fling around numbers tomorrow, please remember that "bazillions" is not a real number. When she asserts that there are possibly "millions" of injured children from lead-in-substrate, please demand real, auditable data!

The Witnesses:

Panel 1

Mr. Robert Jay Howell
Assistant Executive Director
Hazard Identification and Reduction
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission 

Dr. Barbara D. Beck, Ph.D., DABT, FATS

Dr. Dana Best, MD, MPH, FAAP
American Academy of Pediatrics 

Panel 2

Ms. Erika Z. Jones
Mayer Brown
On Behalf of the Bicycle Product Suppliers Association
Mr. Paul C. Vitrano
General Counsel
Motorcycle Industry Council Principal

Ms. Sheila A. Millar
Keller and Heckman LLP

Caroline Cox
Research Director
Center for Environmental Health

Panel 3

Mr. Frederick Locker
Locker Greenberg & Brainin PC

Mr. Charles A. Samuels
Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C.

Mr. Dan Marshall
Vice President, Handmade Toy Alliance
Co-Owner, Peapods Natural Toys & Baby Care
Ms. Rachel Weintraub
Director of Product Safety and Senior Counsel
Consumer Federation of America

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

CPSIA - Majority Staff Memo on CPSIA Amendment for April 7th Hearing

The Majority Staff memo on the CPSIA hearing was sent out to members of the committee to explain the CPSIA amendment ahead of the hearing. You can read it HERE

CPSIA - The Hill Publishes My Op-Ed on CPSIA Hearings

Enough already! It’s time to amend the lead law

By Richard Woldenberg
04/06/11 02:51 PM ET

After almost three years of bickering over the law regulating lead in children’s products, a comprehensive amendment is finally up for discussion in the House of Representatives. It’s about time.

In August 2008, the 110th Congress passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) in an overreaction to notorious lead-in-paint toy recalls. Claiming that weak regulation “caused” these violations of law (lead-in-paint has been illegal for decades), consumer groups coined a slogan to sum it up: “There is NO safe level of lead”. Stooping low to sow fear, they have even warned the CPSC about the perils of bicycle licking and playing brass instruments in the school band. Their lead slogan has been repeated endlessly to justify a stifling, over-reaching law which has accomplished little but damaged many fine companies, killed jobs and depressed markets. The CPSIA deems companies "guilty until proven innocent" by forcing them to test products over and over again at huge expense to prove compliance with the new lead standard.

The screams of law-abiding companies have been consistently ignored by CPSC as it has implemented ever-harsher regulations under the new law. The safety agency is even considering ratcheting down permissible lead from 300 ppm to the unimaginably low 100 ppm level. Economics be damned!  

In contrast to the claims of CPSIA backers warning that the sky is falling, CPSC recall records list only four alleged lead injuries from 1999 to 2010 among the nation’s 50+ million young children. Advocates have never produced victim case histories to justify the draconian rules and simply wag their fingers at anyone daring to question their cherished law. 

As directed by Congress, the CPSC has dutifully banned the sale of rhinestones to children, ended the era of youth model ATVs and forbidden the use of brass bushings in toy car wheel assemblies. Why? They might emit a single atom of lead! The supporters of the law justify these extreme actions on the grounds that lead is a poison but somehow overlook that kids are exposed to more lead every day from eating a snack, drinking water or playing outside in the fresh air. The descent into regulation purgatory is down a slippery slope.

Being governed by this law can give you fits. For example, to be able to continue to legally sell our geology kits to schools (featuring real rocks!), we must give this warning: “Caution: Federal law requires us to advise that the rocks in this educational product may contain lead and might be harmful if swallowed.” We don’t relish looking like idiots at the hand of the U.S. government.

We’re certainly not alone in feeling the pain. The law affects many safe products spanning the U.S. economy, like books, t-shirts and shoes, ATVs and dirt bikes, bicycles, donated or resale goods, musical instruments, pens and educational products. The number of companies touched by the CPSIA is in the many thousands.

The CPSIA was written in response to failings of big companies, but hammers small and medium-sized companies with particular vengeance. Our small business has already lost customers who now feel that selling toys is too confusing or too much of a “hassle”. Market shrinkage courtesy of the federal government is our new reality. The technical rules and ever-changing legal requirements are beyond the capability of all but the most highly-trained quality managers or lawyers to comprehend. For this reason, small businesses bear the greatest risk of liability under the law, despite being responsible for almost no injuries from lead in the last decade. The double whammy of massive new regulatory obligations and the prospect of devastating liability are driving small businesses out of the children’s market.

Our family business makes educational products, and we work tirelessly to ensure that our products are safe. We have tested our products for decades now.  None of us could ever tolerate lead poisoning. Nevertheless, I believe that our company should not be crushed by our government over some consumer groups' phobias and junk science. 

The 112th Congress should know better after years of hearings, comment letters, op-eds, pleading and even direct appeals from the five CPSC Commissioners. To quote The Who, "We won’t get fooled again." If Congress is serious about fixing our economy and creating jobs, it’s time to lift the yoke of the CPSIA and set the children’s product market free once again.

Richard Woldenberg is Chairman of Learning Resources, Inc.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

CPSIA - What's Missing from the CPSIA Amendment?

I have summarized my comments on the pending CPSIA amendment in my two prior blogposts.  In this post, I explain what's MISSING from the amendment:

a.  Preemption:  The United States needs ONE law on safety for children's products - not 51.  The CPSIA amendment should include strong preemption language to stop rogue state laws and to streamline compliance costs for the entire industry. Industry wastes huge resources dealing with competing and inconsistent regulatory schemes across the country that add little to safety but disrupt commerce.  It goes without saying that small businesses can't keep up with it (which is especially perplexing in California).  Is it fair to burden small business with a hopeless compliance chore?  Is it good public policy?  I think Mattel has enough of an advantage already. . . .

This preemption should also apply to consumer "right to know" laws as they relate to lead and phthalates.  In other words, the Illinois lead labelling law and California's Proposition 65 should be preempted explicitly by federal statute.  These laws were developed to avoid federal preemption.  Lawyers and mercenary consumer groups don't need the handout anymore - the right-to-know "tax" should be lifted from the marketplace.

b.  Testing Frequency.  The amendment addresses part of the mess surrounding the so-called "15 Month Rule" but does not touch the subject of testing frequency.  The CPSC's budding efforts to regulate testing frequency (and sampling for testing) have the potential to wreak new havoc as the government pushes its way into decisions long made by private businesses.  What's the justification for this intrusion?  I guess Congress thinks they can run our businesses better than we can.  Unfortunately, there's no evidence to suggest that they know better than we do, and furthermore, there is no data to suggest that the decisions made by manufacturers on testing frequency have ANYTHING to do with injuries.  The pursuit of a perfect suite of paperwork is not the same as keeping kids safe. 

The amendment should steer the CPSC away from meddling in the internal affairs of manufacturers and instead refocus it on substantial product hazards.  That's why we have a CPSC, the only reason.
c.  Penalties.  When the CPSIA was originally passed, one of the provisions trumpeted by the agency was its fancy new right to impose huge penalties.  And it didn't take long for the agency to try out its new rights.  Unfortunately, as documented in this space, the penalties rarely reflected reason, just emotion.  Penalties tended to vary by the level of anger at the CPSC, not the magnitude of the "crime" or any sense of proportionality.  Chairman Inez Tenenbaum actually bragged publicly about effectively putting Japanese retailer Daiso out of business  in the U.S. in her 2010 ICPHSO keynote speech.   Daiso recalled a few thousand dollars of cheap toys (about one pallet's worth) in five recalls with no injuries reported byt eh CPSC.  Not exactly a crime against humanity, in my view.  Nevertheless, Daiso was hit with penalties in excess of $2 million.  The Daiso fiasco looks very much like vindictiveness or headline-seeking.  

The threat of such disproportionate punishment may look entirely theoretical . . . until it's your turn.

Call me a starry-eyed idealist, but I believe in due process and reasonable recourse to the courts.  If the agency is going to go hog wild with penalties, Congress should impose reasonable restraints on the process.  Unfettered government power is un-American.  Procedural limits providing basic due process rights and restraining the coercive tactics of the agency would be an appropriate addition to the amendment.  This problem is no secret - ICPHSO sponsored a presentation on this problem at the 2011 February meeting by three distinguished CPSC bar practitioners.  If the agency can't control its animal instincts, then the law should be changed to limit its powers.  I also recommend that penalties be limited to egregious conduct, reckless endangerment or conduct resulting in serious injury. 

d.  Restore Risk Assessment.  The basic problem underlying the CPSIA, as is apparent again and again in my comments, is termination of the CPSC's obligation to assess risk.  In fact, they are not allowed to assess risk anymore under the CPSIA, just follow the rules written by staffers in the 110th Congress.  Of course, this renders the standard of substantial risk hazard moot.  Even more problematic, the CPSC shows signs of losing sight of its mission.  Is the mission proper testing . . . or safety?  The recent hearings on pool drains illustrates this problem.  The hearing was all about the definition of proper pool drain testing.  The CPSC wasn't investigating actual injuries, because there weren't any, but instead questioning test results.  That's what passes for safety administration nowadays.

We need a CPSC focused on risks and injuries.  A phobic safety agency adds costs to our economy with little to show for the extra investment.  We need to get our compass working again.  Congress must mandate that the CPSC base all its decisions on the substantial product hazard standard and risk assessment.

e.  Allow resellers to rely on representations of manufacturers,  Fear of liability has caused many layers of the supply chain to repetitively test and retest the same product, all in the pursuit of the perfect suite of test reports.  These costs are harming manufacturers and raising prices to consumers.  Injury statistics do not support the thesis that anyone is safer, however.  The solution is for Congress to set a legal standard that permits retailers to rely on the representations of their suppliers (manufacturers).  This bright line rule should help end the atmosphere of distrust between retailers and their suppliers.  Don't worry, there will still be plenty of testing to make everyone happy (including the always deserving testing labs).

f.  End whistleblower provision.  The whistleblower provision was added in the same fever of vindictiveness that infused the "throw in the kitchen sink" CPSIA in 2008.  The problem is that there is no evidence that there were any "evil" companies at work in the children's market.  Incompetent organizations or failed operators, perhaps, but criminals and bad guys, no.  "Bad guys" are rare in the children's market, frankly.  The whistleblower provision has the potential to be a disruptor, a manipulator mainly useful to pad the income of tort lawyers. 

Additional attention by the CPSC to outreach and education of manufacturers is much more likely to produce results.  Without evidence that true venality is an actual risk in this market, there is no justification for retaining the whistleblower provision.

g.  Remove phthalates ban!  There are no known victims of phthalates.  The CPSC has been operating under this total ban for now almost three years - and has only ONE recall of 40 little inflatable toy baseball bats (our friend Daiso) to show for it.  That's it, my friends.  How much money, how many planeloads of dollar bills have been torched testing and retesting product for the presence of these chemicals in the meantime?  The CPSC hasn't even bothered to finish up testing standards or certify even ONE lab to perform the tests.  They don't appear to think this is a public health emergency.

Ket's end the charade.  When Diane Feinstein isn't looking, drop the phthalates ban!

Monday, April 4, 2011

CPSIA - Analysis of Pending House CPSIA Amendment (Sections 3-11)

Continuing with my analysis of the pending draft of the CPSIA Amendment:

Section 3  Application of Third Party Testing Requirements: Merry Christmas, this provision ends mandatory phthalate and lead-in-substrate testing! Yes, Virginia, you read that right - there is a Santa Claus after all. Of course, as noted in my earlier blogpost, you are still subject to broad standards applying to many of your products. How will you know if you comply without some testing? You won't. Hmmm - a Catch-22!  The limitations in the definition of Children's Products echo here.  Removing mandatory testing is not the whole solution, unfortunately.

You still must test for lead-in-paint, small parts, children's metal jewelry and certain juvenile products.

The provision does not remove the CPSC from the process of certifying labs. This needless expansion of the role of our government in this market has never had a sufficient justification, in my view. Why are they in this business? What problem does it solve? Can ANYONE provide evidence that the market wasn't "working" before the CPSC arrived on the lab certification scene? This CPSIA provision is probably a historic consumer group wish-list item or perhaps a staffer's stray term that was never removed. The CPSIA was drafted in a fever of "our government failed us", so it's only natural that the law inserted the CPSC into every nook and cranny of the market. In this case, their conscription has not proven valuable, just another wasteful expense of the federal government that we all will pay for (again and again and again).

Ironically, the provision seems to create even more involvement in certification by the agency, if it chooses to require third party testing. Among other things, the agency must assess testing "capacity". That should prove "interesting".

This section provides some exemption for crafters, products focused on disabled persons (this phrasing only awkwardly covers certain "special needs" children) and one-of-a-kind items. The definition of the exemption incorporates the unfortunate term "not economically practicable" for testing to be excused. I can only imagine the serious of hearings and "stakeholder" meetings required to define what is and is not covered by this new term. This anticipatory compromise (perhaps as a concession to as-yet-encountered resistance in the Senate) likely spoils the workings of this well-intended provision.

A small quantity exemption modeled on Henry Waxman's formula has survived into this draft, unfortunately. The rule incorporates an arbitrary and otherwise meaningless volume rule to identify those companies too small to be required to test. I have never understood why Congress would want to let small companies flaunt safety rules because of their size. Is it okay to be poisoned by a little company but not by a big one? Isn't this law about SAFETY first and foremost? Perhaps we would do better to home in on REAL problems and leave everything else basically unregulated? After all, the substantial product hazard standard gives the agency a LOT of power to change course if they identify a new and REAL problem at a later time.

Under this amendment, the amoeba that is the CPSIA spread in yet another new direction. Today's new priority is apparently small parts. Why? Not explained. Has someone concluded that the former reliance on voluntary standards for small parts failed? On what basis? Does a lab putting products through a choke tube really save lives over relying on voluntary compliance (without specifying the use of outside labs)? Perhaps the best solution is to hold companies responsible for compliance with ASTM F963 without requiring testing (thus preserving the agency's ability to enforce), and holding the line on lead-in-paint testing? After all, L-I-P is easily tested and probably should always be subject to testing owing to the nature of the hazard. I don't know that small companies deserve an "out" on L-I-P because of the ease of controlling sources of paint and getting documentation on lead content. On the other hand, I don't understand why small parts needs this special mention.

Perhaps the sweetest term in this entire document is the new requirement that the agency perform a cost-benefit analysis on ANY mandated third party testing and further, that the testing imposes the least possible burden. This is a pure post-midterm election "smaller government" provision and something to be cherished. This requirement will be applied retroactively on any mandatory testing passed after August 14, 2009. Nice!!!

Finally, this provision makes the "15 Month Rule" voluntary by the CPSC, rather than Congressionally-mandated. Does this mean that it's dead? I can't say for sure. Let's hope so. Better yet, why not change this provision to get the CPSC out of the business of telling us how to be reasonable? Reasonableness is a term that courts have successfully interpreted for years without Congress' help. Why not let the courts decide what's reasonable if there is a dispute?

Section 4  Application of and Process for Updating Durable Nursery Products Standards:  I skipped this as it relates to cribs. Not my area.

Section 5  Application of Section 106 to FDA-Regulated Products:  Pulls in FDA rules into mandatory toy safety standards enforceable by the CPSC.  Does not apply to me, not sure which is you this will impact.

Section 6  Application of Phthalates Standard:  This provision limits the application of the phthalates ban to only certain parts of a "toy" (as defined). 

First, the rule makes ALL phthalates rules PROSPECTIVE from the date of enactment.  For those of you sitting on old inventory with the vain hope that someday it will saleable, this might be your lucky day!

The rule also gives the agency the power to exempt products from the phthalates ban if deemed "not necessary to protect children's health".  This can be done only by rule under the amendment, so don't expect anything quick or cheap. This will be a long, drawn-out and arduous process - in other words, it is highly unlikely to occur.

As noted above, the term "necessary to protect children's health" conflicts with (or at least differs from) the substantial product hazard standard already in use. This is wrong and should be changed.  Congress should use ONE standard for all matters relating to health under the CPSA, namely substantial product hazard, and it should resist the urge to introduce new standards throughout this document. That will only confuse things and make matters worse.

The provision adds a firm deadline for the end of the ban of the three phthalates the subject of the CHAP, if the agency does not act promptly after the CHAP is concluded.  This provision seems to express distrust between Congress and the current administration of the CPSC.  Will safety zealots hijack the CHAP process?  This provision aims to prevent it.  Hmmm.

Subsection (e) fiddles with the definition of "toy" to align it with the definition in the now mandatory ASTM F963 standard.  Not sure how this will affect you (or me).  The ASTM standard includes many different age ranges (by item) so some may even expand.  Many will contract. 

Finally, the revised definition excludes parts that can only be "licked".  Frankly, based on my recollection of the CPSC's serious approach to this in the past, I anticipate that they will assume children have serpent tongues making almost everything "lickable".  Sadly, Congress probably can't rely on the CPSC to take a simple definition and let companies administer it.  This provision is an invitation to make "rules".  I would suggest that the amendment be modified to specifically permit companies to exercise their reasonable business judgment on what is "lickable".  I would point out that in the absence of victims that people besides Diane Feinstein can identify, the need to treat the possible presence of phthalates in these items as a public health crisis is unsupported. The CPSC, on the other hand, WILL treat it as a crisis since Congress banned the substances in toys. That makes it quite serious for the agency.  To restore sanity, Congress will either need to give very specific instructions to the CPSC, or mandate the use of risk assessment to resolve this matter.

Personally, I am tired of all this, and hope Congress can find a way to put this to bed.  I don't relish another three years of hearings, comment letters, begging and the like.  Let My People Go - build some easy rules, let us exercise judgment and re-focus the agency on substantial product hazards.

The rule does NOT limit the application of the ban to ONLY plasticized parts, meaning that testing costs to assure compliance may remain in place for wood, metal, labels and other sundry items. Believe it or not, that's where we are now.  [The CPSC seems stuck on phthalates right now - no final rules have been promulgated on this simple ban and no labs have been certified since August 2008.] It is a complete waste of money, particularly since only Diane Feinstein knows of victims of this purported hazard.  The rule should be revised to limit toy industry legal exposure for what is best characterized as a ban based on conjecture and fear, not actual science or identifiable injury victims.

Section 7  Exemption Authority for Tracking Labels Requirement:  This provision gives the agency the ability (by regulation) to exclude specific products or classes of products from the tracking label requirement if the Commission determines that it is not "economically practicable" to apply tracking labels.  Even for those products thrown a lifeline, they may still have to provide the information through alternative means devised by the CPSC.

I believe cynically that our very existence, the very fact that we are still breathing today, can be used to rebut the argument that tracking labels are not "economically practicable".  A better rule would be to let us decide for ourselves whether we want to use tracking labels.  Companies can be relied upon to decide on an economically rational basis.  If it's a good use of money, we'll do it. Otherwise, we won't.

In the case of our company, in fact, that's what we used to do.  Some of our items had tracking labels, most did not.  Our motivation had nothing to do with recalls.  That's because our recall record was so good that tracking labels never made sense as a "defensive" move. The few tracking labels we added were to assist us on quality issues (generally relating to the production of electronic items).  We used product identifiers to improve our supply chain and raise our quality levels.  Why not let businesses exercise judgment and live with the consequences?  Make good decisions, innovate in value-added ways  and profit, OR make bad decisions, cut corners and lose.  Simple.  This provision should be revised accordingly.

I have also suggested in the past that mandatory tracking labels be restricted to long-life, heirloom-style products, mainly juvenile products like cribs.   These items have a checkered past, and are used with the most vulnerable children (babies).  There is reason to believe tracking labels will have some value in this arena, and in addition, since these items are generally big ticket items, the cost of the labels is not material.  As for everything else, forget it.

Section 8  Requirements for Public Database:  The very encouraging changes proposed in this section would provide basic safety net protections to innocent companies possibly subject to unmerited attack in the database. I have not taken the time to compare these provisions to the Nord/Northup draft rule on the database, but believe they are consistent or at least Nord/Northup provided inspiration for these changes. The changes reduce the scope of people who can file a report, and gives companies more authority to resist publication of material inaccuracies.

The time frames for circulation of data needs to lengthened considerably.  The prospect of "doom" flaunted by consumer groups needs to be downplayed. While the drama of pending disaster makes grist for the newspaper mill, it is unrealistic and has driven the database process in an abusive direction unnecessarily.  Giving more time for back and forth means that the agency will have fewer occasions to knowingly publish false information. In addition, there is always the possibility that working together on a more relaxed schedule will allow the CPSC and businesses to work together better.

My interaction with the agency has reduced my confidence in getting a fair hearing on material inaccuracy.  We presented information rebutting definitively an accusation made by a consumer, and we were told that we had not demonstrated "material inaccuracy".  That seemed to fly in the face of the facts but we could not rebut what the filer "thought".  I do not see anything in the new language that would prevent the agency from publishing that original filing.  If good faith were the metric, I would worry about it.  But today's CPSC is highly-politicized so I am not prepared to say I believe they will interpret clear language "clearly" or behave in a "reasonable" manner.  I call on Congress and the CPSC to jointly figure out how to solve this trust problem.  Should there be a way to appeal the judgment of the CPSC?  It would have to be simple and cheap - something administrative and independent - to give companies a way to protect themselves if they feel they're not getting a fair shake.  It may be worth the effort to restore faith in the database.

The database is a very expensive trifle.  I question whether we can afford it.  Think about how much time and resources will be devoted by the CPSC to the database.  Is this really the best way to spend our money on safety?  A "nice to have", perhaps, but probably not a "must have".

Misidentified products and reports proven materially inaccurate will not be allowed to be published under this amendment.  Thank heavens . . . .

Section 9-11:  Technical amendments as far as I can tell.