Tuesday, May 31, 2011

CPSIA - Illinois Keeps Its Priorities Straight: Meaningless Legislation

In a further triumph for populism and public waste, the bankrupt State of Illinois today passed a high priority change in the Lead Poisoning Prevention Act (LPPA) as previously disclosed in this space.  This Stop-The-Presses change in the law took priority over the incomplete deficit-ridden Illinois budget, Illinois' failure to pay its bills, its unfunded pension liabilities estimated at $140 Billion and the failure of its recent 67% increase in income tax rates to make a dent in its financial problems.  Yes, the raging issue among the legislators was to fiddle with the meaningless and useless LPPA, better known for its utility on the stump looking for votes. 

Thanks heavens for politicians!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

CPSIA - Tell me What You Think

With the CPSIA Amendment (ECADA) stalled for the moment, it's a good time to reflect on where we are. I want to know what you think.

As I see it, this is a case of the unstoppable force colliding with the immovable object. Guess where we are located? At the point of collision. On one side, you have the Republicans. They have always decently listened to our issues and tried to help. Only after the 2010 Midterm elections were they in a position to get things done. With the power of the House majority behind them today, they have taken the political risk and shown the political will to craft a reasonable, measured and, frankly, surgical amendment of the acknowledged defective CPSIA.

Interesting sidelight: The legislative dynamic in Congress in 2008 seems long-forgotten. At that time, the Dems controlled both Houses and the dominant player was San Francisco's own Nancy Pelosi. The CPSIA was negotiated during a time when she and her minions ran the show. True, there was a Republican President BUT owing to the media frenzy at the time, no one was willing to take the political risk of asking any questions. Congressional hearings were controlled by the Dems in both Houses and stage-managed them to achieve the right "tone". Behind the scenes, the legislative negotiations between the parties at that time are best described as stiff-arms. The Republicans were jammed on many of the worst anti-business terms in the CPSIA and the sting never went away. This may be why they are so sympathetic to our cause today.

Please keep this in mind when the consumer groups and the Dems cluck about the 2008 super-majority, bipartisan vote on the original bill. In fact, the Repbulicans would tell you that they had no choice. Sounds convenient, perhaps, but if you talk to them, you will quickly see that they really mean it.

On the other side of this collision are the unscrupulous consumer groups and the Dems. This cabal works together for political advantage. The Dems, led by Henry Waxamn, see that they can use ECADA to score political points. They know that the Republicans don't want consumer groups to send out letters to their constituents saying that the incumbent voted to endanger children with lead in toys. I know it's sick, but that's reality in Washington. This may give you some perspective on why people say Washington is "broken". It is.

The Dems want to score points against the Republicans, and the fact that we are being squished in the process is a cost they are willing to bear. Get it, your demise is a cost they are willing to bear, all for the "greater good" of politically endangering the Republicans. Remember, Members of the House are continually running for office. It takes true courage to do the right thing when you are exposed to Machievellian forces like Mr. Waxman and his merry band of manipulators.

For this reason, I am fairly pessimistic about the prospects of this law. You get the same sinking feeling watching the talking heads on CNBC discuss the deficit and war over the national debt limit and hearing our national leaders talk blandly about the consequences of default on U.S. Treasuries. No big deal . . . . The politicians are playing with our lives, but act as though it is some of kabuki theater, Model UN gone mad. Do you think they are looking for a good grade, rather than doing the right thing for America?

I rule out that the Dems are totally ignorant of science. I rule out that they don't understand the data on injuries or what it means for their law. I think they simply don't care about these things. Their profession is politics, and all that matters is the taste left the mouths of voters. A bill easing up on businesses over lead in children's products has political weaknesses that the Dems prefer to exploit. The needs of our community are a secondary consideration. A distant second, too.

So . . . what do you think? What do you recommend in this hot stove league? Can we do anything about this tragi-comedy, can we save products, companies, markets and jobs before the consequences of inaction suffocates them all out of existence?

Let me know. Thanks.


The mark-up of the long-awaited CPSIA Amendment (ECADA) has been postponed by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce until after Memorial Day. There was purported a time conflict issue with business pending before the committee.

This gives time for the two sides to work to a resolution of their differences. It being Washington, however, don't hold your breath. The Dems continue to be under Mr. Waxman's thumb and there is no telling what will dislodge that pressure.

CPSIA - Dem CPSC Commissioners Shamefully Protest ECADA

In yet another display of partisanship and, frankly, SCIENTIFIC IGNORANCE, the three Democratic CPSC Commissioners issued a harshly-worded warning over passage of the pending CPSIA Amendment (ECADA).  While I dimly recall Inez Tenenbaum pledging early in her CPSC career to be a force for cohesion on the Commission, all pretenses of bipartisanship have been dropped by the Dem Commissioners nowadays.  This latest letter-in-tandem mocks the notion that the Commission is capable of working together.  The letter further casts doubt on the Dem Commissioners' ability to process scientific information or manage scientific processes. 

These people control a federal regulatory agency.  This is YOUR government at work.

The Dem letter came on the same day as the latest volley from the desperate consumer groups (CFA, Consumers Union and the like).  As in their past missives, this letter twists facts, avoids truths and presents the fully misleading impression that the Republican majority are in the process of trashing the very structure of safety administration in this country.  Be still my heart, it's not true, unfortunately.  You'd never know it from them.

Perhaps the two letters have the same author, who knows?  Anyhow, here's a few comments on the Commissioners' letter:

a.  "The current draft of ECADA fails to adequately protect the health and safety of American children. . . ."

RW - The Commissioners do not back up this outrageous assertion but notice that it lingers in the air. The three Dems on the Commission, including the Chairman, are accusing the Republicans of harming children.  Pretty serious charge, right? 

So . . . can they show with injury statistics or case histories that the extremely modest changes being made by ECADA are linked to injuries?  No, they CANNOT. 

So . . . can they prove that the presence of lead-in-substrate at ANY level has EVER been associated with childhood injury from interaction with children's products?  If they could, that might provide support for the purported NEED for the standards they so staunchly defend.  No, they CANNOT.

I don't know how we can accept this kind of behavior from people appointed to positions so high up in our government.

b.   "ECADA Rolls Back Marketplace Progress on Lead".

RW - Note the cute wording of this warning.  You have to read it carefully to get the point they are making.  They say that this amendment changes how the marketplace will deal with lead.  Yes, Adler and Co. are talking about "dosing" again.  Remember the howler they sent in April accusing manufacturers of a desire to increase the "doses" of lead inflicted on children.  Frankly, that offense has never been remedied.  At the time, people associated with the House Subcommittee mumbled about calling the three Commissioners in to defend their ridiculous and slanderous accusation but it never happened.  Here it is, again. 

It's an outrage.

The Dem Commissioners go further into obfuscation-land when they refer to a "recent Commission hearing" on the feasibility of implementing the 100 ppm lead-in-substrate standard.  Ummm, I was on the third panel in that hearing, I gave testimony, too.  The Commissioners tell about SGS testimony that out of nearly 90,000 tests performed by the lab, an inspiring 96.29% of metal components were under 100 ppm.  Cool!  Sounds like a slam dunk, right?  Well, perhaps the selective memory Dem Commissioners may recall that I gave SIMILAR testimony, indicating that our company data shows that 1.7% of our tests (46 out of 2701 recent passing tests) fall between 100 ppm and 300 ppm lead-in-substrate BUT we cannot predict which parts or products will be affected.  In other words, it's random and uncontrollable.  I also gave this same testimony in writing as part of my comments on the 100 ppm standard. This has very dramatic implications for our costs and the predictability (financability) of our results - the Commissioners heard me and they know this.  You'd never know it, however.

It's worth noting further that the CPSC requested my presence at this hearing.  They called me and asked me to spend my own money to fly to Washington to testify on this subject.  Do you think this means they wanted to hear what I had to say . . . so they could ignore it???

The Commissioners go on to shriek about the "large exception" for metal component parts in "outdoor recreational products".  Whoa, scary - right?!  In fact, maybe not.  If the Dems were paying attention, they would realize that ECADA simply codifies THEIR OWN WORK - the standards applied to metal are from a stay the Commission itself approved for metal components in February 2009. Perhaps the Commissioners should read this Federal Register notice to bone up.  I guess having approved literally thousands of pages of rules and whatnot relating to the CPSIA, the Commissioners can be forgiven for not remembering their own work.  Ouch!

The Dem Commissioners may be on a mission and play a bit fast and loose with truth and accuracy . . . but when they say "ECADA would allow more lead back into our children's products", it must be considered a LIE made by knowing people.  There is ABSOLUTELY no support for this statement and their pathetic arguments are paper-thin and obviously fallacious.  Perhaps they think we are all stupes and will believe whatever they put on paper.


c.  The Dems protest the curtail of mandatory testing, without acknowledging that the standards will still be in force and enforceable.  How will manufacturers know they are in compliance?  Duh, they will test.  The Dems know this.  Still, they intone:  "Unfortunately, this proposal will take us back to the days of not knowing what is in a children's product - and discovering dangers only after untold numbers of children are exposed to risks of harm".  Perhaps, perhaps.  But don't you think we should evaluate this claim of the prospect of future loss by looking at past losses?  Oh no, can't do that because the advocates cannot produce any victims.  Hmmm.

Perhaps more disgusting is to receive a letter dated May 25, 2011 with this little sugar plum in it:  "We have previously acknowledged the need for some targeted relief from the third-party testing requirements of CPSIA for small crafters and small businesses . . . ."  These guys are so great, they really FEEL our pain.  Sadly, busy as they are, they have not gotten around to developing this relief since the law passed in August 2008, three years ago.  That said, I bet it's on their "to do" list!

d.  The Dems point to a provision in ECADA that they allege "would allow child care centers to provide extremely old cribs that do not meet the new safety standard for our most vulnerable population".  Again, the words used are intended to cloak the Commissioners in white and place black hats on Republicans pushing for ECADA.  In my view, that's very very misleading.  As far as I can tell, they refer to Section 5(b) of ECADA.  Why not read it yourself and see if you agree with them or with me?

e.  It's late at night and I have a flight in a few hours, so I am not going to waste much time on their absurd protestations on the public database.  Blah blah blah. Apparently, they deem it essential that you be able to read stuff like this:

Gas Grate Cleaner  36 yo man thought that he was making iced tea and poured powder from the container of Elco Gas Grate Cleaner. when he tasted it he realized that it was not tea, felt burning in his throat and went to the hospital emergency room. he was admitted overnight and discharged in the morning.

NOTE TO SELF:  Don't make tea out of grate cleaner.

Happy Harvest Canned goods   Happy Harvest canned goods which contain corn, peas, mixed vegetables sold by Aldi have a can design that is not stackable. Both sides of the can are made equally making it impossible to stack on top of eachother such as other cans are able to do. . . . When one can is moved where they are stacked closely to each other, it creates a chain reaction and most of the cans fall.  This was the case today when my wife was retrieving something from the pantry and my fifteen month old daughter followed her in. When my wife moved an item, two Happy Harvest cans fell and one of them struck my daughter on her head causing a big bump. It could have been a lot worse. This is very unsafe as the stacking of cans become unstable and can fall at anytime. My daughter was the victim of this poor can design. [Emphasis added]

NOTE TO CPSC:  A mandatory safety standard for can stacking is long overdue.  Who knows how many 15 month old toddlers are at risk because you are sleeping on the job - get to work!

RW - My sources tell me that the Dems are not going to support ECADA - none of them.  This is utterly irrational but is also consistent with their past practice of travelling in a pack and blindly supporting the consumer groups.  You, the taxpayer, are the big loser at the Dems' hand.  They have heard you . . . for three years-plus . . . and just DON'T CARE.  They just DON'T CARE about your petty problems, and more profoundly, are not curious or even mildly interested in rational, data-driven criticisms of the basis of the CPSIA.  Anything that reflects badly on their consumer group allies may safely be ignored.

If the Dems stand their ground and don't pass ECADA with bipartisan support, there is a distinct possibility that the Senate will not act at all on this CPSIA amendment.  In other words, this terrible law is likely to stand pat without amendment.

That's your government at work.  I am going to give some more money to Republicans myself.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

CPSIA - ECADA Manager's Amendment

Here is the Manager's amendment to the CPSIA Amendment (ECADA).  [Essentially changes offered by Mary Bono Mack.] The changes apparently include changes in lead in jewelry (age limits), removal of testing requirement for inaccessible components for phthalates, removing toys from outdoor recreational products and adding "class of products" to functional purpose exclusion process.

CPSIA - AAP's Campaign of Lies on CPSIA Amendment (ECADA) Continues

Not quite out of town yet, Cindy Pelligrini and her AAP associate have promulgated another letter today with more lies and misstatements about lead and the CPSIA.

It is worth observing that there is no doubt, and never has been any doubt, that lead is a neurotoxin and is capable to harming children.  I think that's a given.  The AAP letter gives considerable air time to remaking this point over and over again.  Got it, thanks.  What the AAP cannot do, and never has done, is prove a LINK between the presence of lead-in-substrate in children's products (shoes, educational products, books, ATVs, pens, bikes, t-shirts, shoes and so on) with actual injuries.  Nada, nothing.  Instead, they emphasize the "danger", sometimes lapsing into fantastic arguments calculating "losses" based on assumed and undocumented injuries, but NEVER do they address the subject of causation or nexus.

A good example of AAP tall tales is from their May 11 letter:

"The potential impact of lead in children’s products is real.  For example, in 2007 and 2008, over 9.8 million pieces of children’s toy jewelry were recalled for excessive levels of lead.  If just one-half of one percent of these items caused lead exposure in a child, 49,000 children would have been affected.  If each of those children lost one IQ point – which can occur at levels of exposure below 100 parts per million – the economic burden of that lead exposure would be at least $409 million just in lost lifetime income. Health economists estimate that every time average blood lead level increases by a small amount across the children born in any given year, $7.5 billion is lost in potential earnings for those children."

But the AAP cannot deliver up even one such victim.  All such calculations are therefore pure fantasy.  Or should I say pure ignominy?

Today's letter is no better.  See below with my annotations in red.:

May 24, 2011

The Honorable Fred Upton
Committee on Energy and Commerce
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Mary Bono Mack
Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairman Upton and Chairwoman Bono Mack:

As experts in the field of pediatrics, environmental health, and toxics, we would like to express our deep concern over the consideration of legislation that would have the effect of permitting more lead in toys and children’s products. [This is a LIE - ECADA does not permit "more lead in toys and children's products".]

Lead is a potent toxicant that can have a range of adverse effects on children’s brains and bodies. Low lead levels cause a wide array of negative effects, including cognitive, motor, behavioral, and physical harm. Even at very low levels, lead has been demonstrated to cause the loss of IQ points in children. [AAP citations call into question cause and effect, noting the many factors involved including self-selection.] Children with elevated blood lead levels are more likely to experience attention deficit and reading disabilities, and to fail to graduate from high school.  [They are also more likely to live in poverty, in older housing, in inner cities and eat paint chips.]  Researchers have identified associations between lead exposure and increased aggression, commission of crime and antisocial or delinquent behaviors.  [Ditto]  Other effects include abnormal balance, poor eye-hand coordination, longer reaction times, and sleep disturbances. At high levels, lead can be fatal. [Can the AAP show me an example of ONE CHILD who died or was injured from lead-in-substrate EVER?  Apparently not - four Congressman tried to get the same information during the April 7th House hearing without success.]  Lead accumulates in the human body and is stored in the bone, so multiple low-level doses can quickly result in harmful levels. For all of these reasons, our nation has for decades pursued a multi-faceted strategy of reducing children’s exposure to lead from all sources, including air, paint, soil, food, water, and the full range of consumer products. [The AAP cites a CDC publication in their May 11 letter on lead in which the CDC points to lead in paint, interior dust, exterior dust and dirt and lead in tap water.] To date, science has not been able to identify any safe level of lead exposure for children.

In 2008, Congress passed legislation that recognized the devastating effects of lead on children’s health and strictly limited lead content in toys and other children’s products. The Consumer Product Safety improvement Act protected children up to the age of 12, thereby covering the full period in which the vast majority of children will experience both rapid brain growth and the behaviors that increase lead exposure. [Human factors experts at the CPSC have long acknowledged that mouthing behavior ends at about age three.  Mouthing behavior over age three is unusual and considered age-inappropriate, meaning that it is the responsibility of parents and caretakers to monitor and manage such behaviors to the extent they occur.]  The law also phased in limits on lead content, with the final stage of that limit scheduled to take effect this August. That restriction of no more than 100 parts per million of lead in children’s products is expected to all but eliminate the possibility that exposure to a single product could cause the loss of one IQ point. [The AAP's assertion that there is a "possibility" of a loss of an IQ point from an interaction with lead-in-substrate in a children's product is purely conjectural and without basis in fact.  Their persistence in advancing this argument without proof must be considered evidence of an intent to deceive.]  These provisions represent critically important protections for children’s health and are a vital component of a comprehensive strategy to reduce lead exposure from all sources.

[Interestingly, neither the CDC nor the EPA take this position.  In fact, the EPA notes:  "First and foremost, the Agency faces the difficulty of determining the level at which to set the standards given the uncertainties in information on cause and effect--what environmental levels in which specific medium may actually cause particular blood lead levels that are associated with adverse health effects. The Agency has tools, which are only generally consistent, that show that certain increases in environmental lead levels are associated with certain increases in blood lead levels. Given the range of uncertainty shown in its analysis supporting the establishment of a hazard level under this rule, EPA has developed a technical analysis that considers hazard standards for dust and soil at the lowest levels at which the analysis shows that across-the-board abatement on a national level could be justified. EPA recognizes, however that for any levels of lead in dust or soil judgment must be exercised as to how to treat the medium, and interim controls as well as abatement could be effective. . . . Thus, if EPA were to choose standards that are too low, the public could be unable to distinguish between trivial risks at the low levels of lead from the more serious risks at higher levels. This could result in clean up for little to no health benefit, or conversely, it could result in almost no clean up because persons would question the credibility of the ‘hazard' determination."]

Given the extreme difficulty or impossibility of eliminating children’s exposure to lead in our air, soil, water and food, it becomes even more imperative to limit lead from those exposures we can control, such as children’s products. [Having never provided any nexus between trace levels of bound-in, insoluble lead-in-substrate in children's products and any known health risk, this sentence is either a lie or intentionally misleading.  The AAP could resolve all such matters in its favor if it ever proved its case.  Over the past four years, it has failed to do so.]  We urge you to maintain strict limits on lead in all parts of toys and products meant for children up to the age of 12 years.

Signed by 100 "experts"

CPSIA - ECADA (CPSIA Amendment) Full House Committee Mark-up Tomorrow

Representative Mary Bono-Mack introduced the CPSIA Amendment (ECADA) yesterday.  The bill is known as H.R. 1939 and was co-sponsored by Fred Upton, Chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.  The mark-up will begin at 4 PM EST on May 25 with opening statements.  The vote on the bill is likely to occur on Thursday at 10 AM EST.

The majority staff memo supporting the bill can be found here.

Fingers crossed!  We need the poker game to end with bipartisan support for sensible reform of a misconceived bill that has damaged uncountable companies and marketplaces.  Safety is NOT a zero sum game.  Mr. Waxman must table the issue and let this bill move forward with his support.

CPSIA - A Malefactor Exits Stage Right

In the sad, pathetic CPSIA saga, several players have taken up their chips and moved on.  Some, like David Strickland, found other industries to prey upon and destroy (good job with Toyota!).  Others have just disappeared in the mist. I have not heralded the departure of Congressional staff who have played a role in ruining our businesses - they were just doing their jobs, if incompetently.

But now one of the true movers and shakers behind the CPSIA has chosen to find other things to do.  And I am speaking of the notorious Cindy Pelligrini of the American Academy of Pediatrics.  Cindy's last day to create havoc at the AAP is June 3rd; after that, she takes her act over to the March of Dimes.  [What is the lead content in dimes anyhow?]  Cindy deserves special mention, right up there with the Queen Bee herself Rachel Weintraub, as responsible for the mess we all find ourselves in.

I have discussed Ms. Pelligrini in this space numerous in the past. 

-  Here is Cindy Pelligrini ghosting federal testimony and intercepting questions for its purported author, the estimable Dr. Dana Best.  Dr. Best is a real live doctor.  Ms. Pelligrini told me she holds a degree in political science. .  . . 

-  Here is Cindy Pelligrini arguing against risk assessment because it would be too BURDENSOME on the CPSC.  I practically weep over her compassion for the regulators!  She also is the one who promoted the notion of background "contamination" of lead at 40 ppm (as if the presence of a naturally-occurring element is contamination), lower than the lead content of the dirt in Mr. Obama's garden.  [Ibid.] 

-  Here's Cindy Pelligrini and the AAP misquoting or misstating the data from their own cited sources on lead poisoning.  I guess the truth is what you make of it. 

-  Here is Cindy Pelligrini admitting that she is using the CPSIA strictures to achieve a different end that has nothing to do with lead poisoning, namely the tacit ban of youth model ATVs.   Is manipulation and distortion less offensive if you brazenly admit it?

Wow, that's a hard act to follow!  The pressure's on Rachel now . . . .

As a fitting tribute to Ms. Pelligrini, I offer up quotes from scholarly articles cited in a May 11, 2011 lead scare email she authored with an AAP associate. Most of the citations were not provided with links, perhaps to make this exercise more difficult.  Sorry, Cindy, I cracked the code!  Here are a few nuggets:

a.   "Multivariable analysis indicated that residence in older housing, poverty, age, and being non-Hispanic black are still major risk factors for higher lead levels. . . . Risk of lead exposure by year housing built defined as follows . . . 1999–2004: low risk, built 1978 and later; medium risk, built between 1950 and 1977; high risk, built before 1950."  Jones RL, Homa DM, Meyer PA, Brody DJ, Caldwell KL, Pirkle JL, Brown MJ. Trends in Blood Lead Levels and Blood Lead Testing Among US Children Aged 1 to 5 Years, 1988–2004. Pediatrics, Mar 2009; 123: e376 - e385.  [Apparently, old homes come equipped with children's products with dangerously high lead content.  How could there be any other possible explanation for this data?!]

b.   "CDC is conducting several activities to focus efforts on preventing lead exposures to children. First, beginning in 2003, CDC required state and local health departments receiving funding for lead poisoning prevention activities to develop and implement strategic childhood lead poisoning elimination plans. Second, CDC and its federal partners, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Environmental Protection Agency, launched new initiatives to control leadbased paint hazards in the highest risk housing, addressing where successive cases of lead poisoning have been identified. Third, CDC and other federal agencies are developing a systematic and coordinated response to identify and eliminate nonpaint sources of exposure (e.g., lead jewelry, food and traditional medicines, and cosmetics). . . . The most common high-dose sources of lead exposure for U. S. children are lead-based paint and lead-contaminated house dust and soil." Advisory Committee on Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention.  Preventing Lead Poisoning in Young Children.  A Statement by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  August 2005.  [What, no reference to children's products?!  Does the CDC know what it's doing?  Come on, there's no safe level for lead . . . .]

c.  See my blogpost of May 11 for an analysis of this article. Self-selecting factors may explain the data on lead poisoning, not the hazard itself.  Hmmm.  Chen A, Dietrich KN, Ware JH, Radcliffe J, Rogan WJ. IQ and blood lead from 2 to 7 years of age: are the effects in older children the residual of high blood lead concentrations in 2-year-olds? Environ Health Perspect. 2005;113(5):597-601.

d.   "Lead can be found in high concentrations in three media to which children may be directly or indirectly exposed: paint, interior dust, and exterior soil or dust. This section discusses the distribution of lead in these media and their relationships to one another and to blood lead levels (BLLs) in children (Figure 2.1). Lead in tap water, generally a lower dose source of exposure, is also addressed." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Managing Elevated Blood Lead Levels Among Young Children: Recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.; 2002.  [Again, the CDC screws up - no apparent awareness of the plague of contaminated children's products.  So dopey, good thing we have the AAP and CFA to ensure that the 100 ppm lead standard is imposed on lead-in-substrate in children's products.  It's a mere detail that no one has EVER produced a single victim of lead poisoning linked to lead-in-substrate in any jurisdiction at any time anywhere in the world.]

e.  Article discussing the later consequences of lead poisoning. Does not discuss sources of lead poisoning. "Residual and unmeasured confounding are always of concern in observational studies where all possible covariates cannot be assessed and those available are not measured with equal precision. . . . The inclusion of neuropsychological variables examined in this sample such as measures of executive functioning, attention, and IQ may have amplified the predictive vigor of the models. . . . The possibility that early exposure to Pb may lead to a higher risk of antisocial behavior in later life through its effects on neuropsychological functions is interesting and will be the subject of future analyses of these data. Variables independently associated with measures of antisocial behavior included maternal intelligence and lower birth weight. The association with lower parental IQ was not unexpected and a few studies suggest that delinquency is related to medical complications at birth."  Dietrich KN, Ris MD, Succop PA, Berger OG, Bornschein RL. Early exposure to lead and juvenile delinquency. Neurotoxicol Teratol. Nov-Dec 2001;23(6):511-518 [Emphasis added] [In other words, lead might explain the social dysfunction of some kids. Then again, so might many other uncontrollable variables well-beyond the ability of this study to analyze or even detect. Clear as mud . . . .]

f. A classic "garbage in, garbage out" study, this article argues that a loss of an IQ point results in a corresponding loss of about 0.1 years of schooling. If, however, you note the conclusions or suspicions in the article referenced above in par. c above, you may conclude there may well be other factors at play, such as family income or poverty, age of housing, neighborhood setting, other family dynamics (such as educational background), and the basic intelligence of the kids affected by lead poisoning. Kids presenting as lead poisoned may be the least likely kids to be successful in school for other reasons separate from lead poisoning - in other words, lead poisoning might be a symptom of a larger problem, not the problem itself. The article does not sonsider this possibility. Salkever D. Updated Estimates of Earnings Benefits from Reduced Exposure of Children to Environmental Lead. Environmental Research, 70:1-6: 1995.

I could go on and on - Ms. Pelligrini and her associate provide bundles of citations all making similar points.

Ms. Pelligrini leaves behind a record replete with misleading conclusions and head fakes. In the process, she accomplished little for kids but managed to ruin many businesses, drive entrepreneurs into other markets, kill jobs and eliminate valued products that kids, families and schools needed and wanted. She had a willing accomplice in the Dems who employ populism to get reelected. Damn the science, we need to make kids safer . . . even if we have no idea what that means!

As I noted earlier this year, Walter Lippmann, founding editor of The New Republic and winner of the Presidential Medal of Freedom1964, once cited the components of wartime mythmaking as "the casual fact, the creative imagination, the will to believe, and out of these three elements, a counterfeit of reality." Counterfeit of reality, that's our Cindy. Cindy, we'll miss you!


Monday, May 23, 2011

CPSIA - The State of Illinois PAYS People to Do This

I live in a magical state.  Actually, a magical State - the State of Illinois.  Howdya like to have our balance sheet?  My State of residence owes $45 Billion in borrowings (up from $12 Billion in 2002), has $140 Billion in unfunded pension and retiree health care benefits, is behind on payment of $8 Billion in bills (despite raising personal income tax rates by 66% this year, and is likely to run a multi-billion dollar deficit this year again.  We have the second worst credit rating among the 50 States.  Slow on the uptake or just magical?  Ask California - they're the only place worse than us.  We owe $8 Billion in unpaid bills - gag, this is civic humiliation.

And how is our wonderful State, the Land of Lincoln, spending its precious few resources these days?  Well, a top priority is the lead labeling law.  Ah, that old chestnut!  Apparently, the scourge of lead has not been sufficiently snuffed out in Illinois.  The absence of injuries, the sharp drop in recalls, the asphyxiating federal requirements are all inadequate around here to keep kids "safe".  Our civic leaders have already put in place the toughest and most unreasonable lead labeling law in the country, out Proposition 65'ing even the real Proposition 65.  Never content to leave "well enough" alone, they are going back to the well.

So our paid public servants with apparently very little to do have chosen to revise AND TIGHTEN the Illinois lead labeling law.  See the attached working draft for your amusement (or nausea).  They are extending it to all coatings - get your tests a-ready! - and have added a notation in the "warning" label to indicate that the product actually complies with federal standards.  Yes, the ultimate mixed message - dangerous yet safe, all at the same time! - consumers will no doubt appreciate this extra effort by regulators.  The law is now much more complex and impenetrable, too.  Lucky us.

And why did the estimable Lisa Madigan, our Attorney General, demand this change in law?  Gotta get elected right?  If kids aren't made safer every day, whether science is involved or not, who needs the AG's office?  No injuries motivated this change, just a basic lack of understanding of science and a passionate need to deceive the public.

Lisa Madigan's paycheck is among the bills that Illinois pays promptly, by the way.  My tax refund isn't on the same list of priorities.

Welcome to the Land of Lunkheads.  Illinois, you shining star!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

CPSIA - CPSIA Amendment (ECADA) Mark-up Expected This Week

Rumorville has it that the mark-up of the CPSIA Amendment (ECADA) is due to occur this week at the full House Committee on Energy and Commerce this week.  The Dems continue to play a game of poker with our livelihoods over the CPSIA, which is apparently how things are done in Washington.  The mark-up is where the bluffs will be called.  Fingers crossed . . . .

Despite our having made rational arguments for amendment of this law for almost three years now and presented bundles of data and evidence to support our pleas, the Dems continue to hold out, claiming that the meager changes to the CPSIA effected in ECADA will "endanger" children.  This pathetic reasoning is based on a "zero sum" analysis which holds that anything making life easier for businesses must necessarily endanger children.  In other words, safety is a "zero sum" game in which gains earned by one side must come out of the pocket of another.  Some kinds of negotiations are in fact "zero sum" games - like the negotiations over the price of a house.  If the buyer wins a $1,000 price concession, the seller gets $1,000 less.  Zero sum.

Not all negotiations are zero sum, however.  If a customer asks me to deliver 1,000 units in 30 days, and I can deliver the units today (because I have them in hand), I lose nothing but the buyer gains. This is NOT "zero sum". There are many such examples.  This kind of value-added change where one party gains but no one loses is known as a "Pareto Improvement".  Skilled negotiators look for opportunities for Pareto Improvements as a way to close gaps or to make any negotiation more valuable to the parties.  This option has been ruled out by smallmindedness among consumer groups who depends on favors from Dems to stay in this game.

The notion that easing up on the lead-in-substrate rules or the excessive testing rules will necessarily endanger children is both offensive and ignorant.  First of all, this argument depends on allocation of the moral higher ground exclusively to the consumer groups and CPSIA zealots.  Please, spare me.  We in the children's products industry have devoted our working lives to serving children and have as powerful a claim to making kids' lives better as any consumer group.  I do not accept that consumer groups have greater integrity or are more virtuous than companies spending their own money and devoting their days and nights creating products to make kids lives better.  They can't gain the higher ground simply by patting themselves on the back.  Consumer group claims of endangerment need more proof than their hearty self-congratulations.

Second, their assertions just don't make any sense.  The CPSIA rules are asphyxiatingly tight, far beyond what is required to make kids "safe" (whatever that means).  We all grew up without the benefit of the consumer groups' meddling "insights".  I believe a good percentage of you are able to read this blog without drooling all over your PC - perhaps we never needed all this protection in the first place.  Perhaps indeed.

Assume for the sake of argument that we could figure out EXACTLY what level of protection was needed to keep kids "safe".  Since there is room for doubt about the need for ANY of these protections (putting aside the Democrats' need to create a basis for reelection), we can posit that the "correct" level of protection is somewhere between where it was when we were growing up and the current levels of CPSIA strangulation.  This suggests that an easing would not come out of anyone's pocket but would in fact be a classic Pareto Improvement. 

To put things in sharper perspective, let me diverge for a moment to discuss the Cubs.  The Cubs triumphant return to Fenway Park this week resulted in a 15-5 drubbing by the Red Sox.  Ouch.  Let's say that the Red Sox took pity on the Cubs and stopped scoring runs at 13-5.  Would the Red Sox be any worse off for this "concession"?  No.  What if the score was reduce to 10-5 or 6-5?  The Red Sox still win the game.  The reduction in Red Sox runs does not affect the Red Sox adversely until they are reduced to 5 runs (tie game).  This is analogous to the changes proposed by the Republicans in ECADA.  Kids are kept safe but businesses are much less encumbered.  This is a win for our society. 

I should point out that Republicans have children and families and care about kids and families as much as anyone else.  They also voted en masse for the CPSIA in 2008.  I find the moral higher ground arguments by the Dems and consumer groups to be fallacious and manipulative.  Do they really think they can contend that Republicans used to care about kids and now just care about businesses?  That's akin to arguing that we are all idiots.

We're not.  I certainly hope Waxman and the Dems let this needed change pass with Dem support.  It's time to move on, guys.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

CPSIA - Treatment of Resale Shops and Garage Sales under CPSIA Amendment

A comment was posted recemtly here questioning whether ECADA (CPSIA amendment) truly liberates the resale industry from the CPSIA. In my opinion, it does. I have also conferred with the authors of ECADA for their intentions, and they confirm that resale shops are intended to be exempted under the new language.

The authors point to this language: "obtained by the seller, either directly or indirectly, from a person who obtained such children’s product for use and not for the purpose of resale". This language should give true resale activities, whether in a shop, in your garage, even on eBay, an exemption from all the requirements of CPSIA. What they didn't exempt is sales by liquidators. In other words, they did not intend to open a loophole in the protections (purported protections) offered to consumers under the CPSIA allowing mass liquidation of potentially violative products Otherwise, real resale activities are exempt. There are some limited exceptions in ECADA to the resale exemption notably.

Thanks for posting this question. I hope this helps clear up any infusion.

Monday, May 16, 2011

CPSIA - Conformed Copy of CPSIA Amendment Sent to House Committee

Here is the conformed copy of the CPSIA amendment as it will be presented to the House Energy and Commerce Committee next week for mark-up.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

CPSIA - Status of CPSIA Amendment

On Thursday this past week, the pending CPSIA amendment, known by its acronym ECADA, passed out of House subcommittee by voice vote. The Democrats did not offer substantive amendments at this time. There were two technical amendments adopted (see here and here). i will post the comformed amendment as soon as I get a link for you.

The debate over the amendment was lively and rancorous, I am told. As usual, there were hyperbolic accusations by desperate consumer groups whho will do just about anything to prevent rationality from interposing itself in this debate. Their Congressional allies, like Schakowsky and Waaxman, were right in there duking it out. That notwithstanding, Mr. Waxman admitted the law needed to be changed, and pledged to work with the majority party to fix the CPSIA. The significance of the voice vote is that he has not gone on record on the amendment. A poker game is underway.

The next step is a mark-up by the full committee in ten days or so. The goal of the Republicans is to produce a bill that can pass through the Senate. There are at least two Senators who stand by for the consumer groups, Rockefeller (D-WV) and Pryor (D-AR) who are standing in the way. If, nowever, Mr. Waxman gets on board, it is anticipated that the bill has a chance to go forward into law.

Time will tell. If you live in West Virginia or Arkansas, you know what you have to do. Call your Senator!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

CPSIA - The Alliance for Children's Product Safety Endorses CPSIA Amendment

For Immediate Release
May 12, 2011


The Alliance for Children's Product Safety, a coalition of small business owners, manufacturers, crafters and entrepreneurs who are impacted by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), issued the following statement in support of the “Enhancing CPSC Authority and Discretion Act of 2011" (ECADA), a bill to be marked up on Thursday, May 12 by the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade:

"We strongly endorse this bill and congratulate Subcommittee Chairman Mary Bono-Mack and others who drafted this important legislation in order to bring common-sense to our product safety laws, and provide relief to the thousands of small businesses that have suffered from the overreaching provisions of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA).

After almost three years of rancorous debate, Republicans and Democrats in Congress agree that it is time to fix the CPSIA. The law has banned safe products ranging from rhinestones, books, pens and musical instruments to ATVs and bicycles, devastating critically-important industries without proof that children will actually be safer. Congress and the CPSC have received testimony of companies driven out of business by this law, of products withdrawn from the market and of massive cost increases from needless and repetitive testing. The number of companies negatively impacted by the over-reaching provisions of the CPSIA is in the many thousands.

ECADA would enact relatively modest changes to CPSIA, including those requested by both Democratic and Republican Commissioners of the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The changes to rules governing the presence of lead in children’s products reflect good science and set appropriate, common sense standards to protect the health and well-being of our children while also protecting jobs in difficult economic times.

The Alliance calls on the Committee to ignore the rhetoric from certain groups who accuse anyone who proposes common-sense modifications to the CPSIA of "endangering children" to justify a stifling, over-reaching law which has accomplished little but damaged many fine companies, killed jobs and depressed markets. These are the same groups whose extreme positions on "safety" have included testimony warning about the perils of “bicycle licking" and playing brass instruments in a school band. We cannot allow fear mongering to drive important federal legislation touching vital industries.

There is bipartisan agreement that CPSIA needs to be fixed. ECADA is an important and long overdue step in this process and we urge Congress to finalize this legislation as soon as possible."

The Alliance for Children's Product Safety, Chaired by Rick Woldenberg, is a coalition of small business owners, manufacturers, crafters and entrepreneurs who are impacted by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). For additional information, please visit http://www.AmendTheCPSIA.com/ or contact Caitlin Andrews at 202-828-7637.

CPSIA - Blog Comment Notes that Rhinestones are still Banned under CPSIA Amendment

Careful and attentive blog reader Ben notes that the CPSIA Amendment still bans rhinestones because they can be "mouthed". 

What does Congress have against embellishments on jeans and shoes and inexpensive jewelry stones never associated with lead poisoning?  Does anyone care about injury data anymore, or have we decided that irrational fear is the way to go on legislation these days?

I hope that rhinestones get released from regulatory purgatory during the mark-up. Come on, Congress, finish the job!

CPSIA - Democratic Memorandum on CPSIA Amendment Mark-up

This appears to be Henry Waxman's attempt to clarify his position on the CPSIA Amendment ahead of Thursday's mark-up. 

Not surprisingly, there just isn't enough time to dig into every crevice of a document like this when you have a day job. . . .   In any event, the document offers few surprises - this memorandum implies that only the Democrats care about safety and states pretty clearly that voting for the Amendment is a betrayal of American values.  Whatever.  After three years of this posturing, and the associated disaffection with the Democratic party, I am hardly surprised but still nauseated. 

Get your barf bag ready.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

CPSIA - AAP Publicity Campaign Tries to Block CPSIA Amendment With Half-Truths and Worse

The notorious American Academy of Pediatrics, a political organization masquerading as a scientific organization, is mounting a furious effort to stop Congress from amending its baby, the misconceived and defective CPSIA.  Consistent with its previous output, the current campaign is filled with half-truths, misleading statements and innuendo.  Facts and science take a back seat.

Here is their first blast email - with my replies noted.  I will post more of their pap as it arrives.

As the Energy and Commerce Committee considers issues related to the safety of children's products, the American Academy of Pediatrics is pleased to provide background information about lead and its effect on child health. For more information, please contact Cindy Pellegrini (cpellegrini@aap.org) or Kristen Mizzi (kmizzi@aap.org) at the American Academy of Pediatrics at 202/347-8600.

Lead: Frequently Asked Questions

Lead is a soft, heavy and malleable metal that occurs naturally in trace amounts throughout the environment. Due to its abundance and easy workability, it has been used for thousands of years in plumbing, production of glass and crystal, and the manufacture of a wide range of consumer products. Following are some common questions about lead and its impact on children’s health.

What are the effects of lead exposure on children’s health?

Lead is well-established as a potent neurotoxin and a particular threat to the developing brain of the fetus, infant, and young child, with documented negative effects on behavior and permanent loss of IQ points. Lead causes permanent, irreversible brain damage. Even at very low levels, lead is known to cause loss of IQ and intellectual function. Children with elevated lead are more likely to have problems with attention deficit and reading disabilities, and to fail to graduate from high school. Investigators have identified associations between lead exposure and increased aggression, commission of crime and antisocial or delinquent behaviors. At high levels, lead exposure can be lethal.

@@@@RW - Lead is a known neurotoxin, yes, but exposure to lead does NOT erase IQ points inevitably or permanently. Common experience indicates this, and so does science. Here, the AAP is emphasizing that lead CAN do this, not that it WILL do so as a result of each exposure under all circumstances. The AAP cannot prove that lead ALWAYS has this effect nor can they link lead poisoning to the regulatory issue currently before Congress - namely, lead-in-substrate.  Lead-in-paint is NOT at issue here.  Elevated lead levels have NEVER been linked to lead-in-substrate - NEVER EVER ANYWHERE. Here the AAP is IMPLYING that lead can do this via lead-in-substrate, and relying on fear of the unknown (and a general societal ignorance of science) to achieve their political goal. Lead exposure from house paint, leaded gasoline and industrial pollution are the only sources of lead poisoning addressed or cited by the EPA or CDC.

Notably and shamefully, the AAP ignores or distorts its own scientific evidence in its venomous public relations campaign against the CPSIA amendment.  As you will see from their later press releases, the AAP cites the following article: Chen A, Dietrich KN, Ware JH, Radcliffe J, Rogan WJ. IQ and blood lead from 2 to 7 years of age: are the effects in older children the residual of high blood lead concentrations in 2-year-olds? Environ Health Perspect. 2005;113(5):597-601.  They do not provide a link, but I have it for you here.   In this article, the AAP's assertion that lead inevitably erases IQ points is exposed as conjectural, not a universal truth.  The Abstract of the article makes it clear that no declarative statement linking lead-in-substrate to loss of IQ points can be made other than that it is theoretically possible:

“Increases in peak blood lead concentrations, which occur at 18–30 months of age in the United States, are thought to result in lower IQ scores at 4–6 years of age, when IQ becomes stable and measurable. Data from a prospective study conducted in Boston suggested that blood lead concentrations at 2 years of age were more predictive of cognitive deficits in older children than were later blood lead concentrations or blood lead concentrations measured concurrently with IQ. Therefore, cross-sectional associations between blood lead and IQ in school-age children have been widely interpreted as the residual effects of higher blood lead concentrations at an earlier age or the tendency of less intelligent children to ingest more leaded dust or paint chips, rather than as a causal relationship in older children. [Ed. Note - In other words, the lower IQs found in children may be due to the fact that it may effectively be a self-selecting group.  Hmmm, interesting finding.] Here we analyze data from a clinical trial in which children were treated for elevated blood lead concentrations (20–44 μg/dL) at about 2 years of age and followed until 7 years of age with serial IQ tests and measurements of blood lead. We found that cross-sectional associations increased in strength as the children became older, whereas the relation between baseline blood lead and IQ attenuated. Peak blood lead level thus does not fully account for the observed association in older children between their lower blood lead concentrations and IQ. The effect of concurrent blood level on IQ may therefore be greater than currently believed.”  [Emphasis added]

The study notes later:  "In neither analysis did we see evidence in the overall group or in the placebo group that blood lead at 2 years of age determined IQ at 7 years of age. . . . Thus, although it is attractive to look at change in IQ by change in blood lead when considering the effect of an intervention, modeling those changes simultaneously is complex and can produce results that are difficult to interpret." [Emphasis added] In other settings, this might be labeled an ADMISSION.  Don't expect any such thing from the AAP.

I am sure the AAP never expected anyone to actually read their footnotes . . . .

What happens to lead in the human body?

The human body treats lead like calcium. Once ingested, lead is absorbed into the bloodstream and travels throughout the body, including across the blood-brain barrier. Lead is bioaccumulative; a percentage of absorbed lead may be stored in the bones, where it is bound tightly and may be released over the course of many years. A portion of lead will also be excreted from the body. The amount of lead absorbed, excreted or stored in the bone may depend on a number of variables.

@@@@RW - This is a critical point, and again, the AAP relies on innuendo and fear to sell an implication as an accepted fact. Common experience, even among children with elevated lead levels, indicates that it is the persistence of high blood lead levels that put children at material risk of lead poisoning and IQ loss. Here's another quote from the above article CITED by the AAP:  "Among children with both prior and concurrent blood lead concentrations below the corresponding medians as the reference group, those with prior blood lead concentrations at or above median but concurrent blood lead concentrations below the median did not have a decrease in school-age IQ score. In contrast, children with concurrent blood lead concentrations at or above the median had roughly similar IQ decreases, irrespective of their prior blood lead concentration."  [Emphasis added]

In other words, studies show that children with high blood lead levels that are later reduced to the normal range do NOT have reduced IQ levels.  HOWEVER, if the high blood lead levels are allowed to persist in school age children, lower IQ levels can be anticipated.  Who are these kids with high blood lead levels at school age?  That begs MANY questions. Don't expect the AAP to address them.

While it is undeniable that some lead accumulates in some form in the body, the real question is how much and what is the lasting impact of that lead. On that question, the AAP is silent and certainly makes no effort to carefully consider and translate its own cited studies. Taking the opposing position to the AAP is not the same thing as touting lead as a health food. Lead is dangerous - the question is how is it dangerous and in what forms.  In this case, we are dealing with lead-in-substrate; it would be helpful to only present data relevant to that topic.

Are some children more vulnerable to lead and its effects?

Yes, but it may be difficult to identify an individual child’s risk. Lead absorption is known to vary based on factors like a child’s age and nutritional status. At least one gene has been identified that appears to raise a child’s risk. Scientists are still working to identify sensitive windows of development where lead exposure may be particularly damaging.

@@@@RW - For the sake of argument, let's assume this is unambiguously correct - kids vary in their susceptibility to lead poisoning. Some are more susceptible, some are less.  [The AAP provides no data on this point here.] Then consider how many children are currently living on Earth (more than 2 billion). And then consider the effect of mortality rates and "aging out" on the total population of children in the regulated age group over a period of decades.

If kids fall along a spectrum of susceptibility to lead poisoning and therefore some are very sensitive to it, and taking into account the MANY billions of children in the regulated age group worldwide over the past 50 years, WHY aren't there any documented cases of lead poisoning from lead-in-substrate anywhere at any time under any living conditions or otherwise?  Four Members of Congress asked consumer group representatives this question at the April 7th hearing - and didn't get an answer.  It's a good question. The absence of victims suggests that the range of susceptibility is not as great as the AAP wants you to believe (as a result of its innuendo and implications).  It also suggests (proves?) that lead-in-substrate is not a health hazard in children's products.

How does lead enter the body?

Lead can be ingested or inhaled. Children may swallow paint chips, small parts, or other items that contain lead. In addition, lead can be released from products when they are mouthed, sucked, or licked. Lead may be found in dust and soil, and is present in measurable quantities in our air. Lead cannot be absorbed through the skin, but it can be ingested if it gets on a child’s hands and he or she then puts their hands in their mouth.

@@@@@RW - A mixture of undeniable facts and misleading innuendo. The AAP mixes up known and serious sources of bio-available soluble lead (paint, dust and dirt) and immaterial and unproven sources pf insoluble lead (substrates). Their narrative is designed to manipulate you into reaching the unsupported conclusion that it's all the same by providing only half the story. If the AAP were restricted to talking JUST about lead-in-substrate, this paragraph might not be as powerful or fear-inducing. This is the basic error in the original CPSIA panic - lead-in-paint was equated with lead-in-substrate by reactive people like Dick Durbin. At that point, all was lost.

Does it matter how lead gets into the body?

No. Once lead enters the human body, its behavior is consistent.

@@@@RW - This is patently UNTRUE.  Bio-available lead, namely soluble lead that can be absorbed into the bloodstream, has a very different effect than lead bound into substrate. Lead-in-substrate has never been linked to health problems but soluble lead (lead-in-paint, lead-in-dirt from leaded gasoline, lead-in-air from industrial pollution) has a clear linkage.  This misstatement is either carelessness by the AAP or a flat out effort to mislead.  Draw your own conclusion.

Will the size of a product, or the concentration of lead in it, have an effect on how much lead is absorbed?

Very small items can have high lead content, such as paint chips or dust. Trace amounts of lead, enough to cause measurable brain damage, are invisible to the naked eye. Exposure to higher concentrations of lead will, however, more quickly lead to higher blood lead levels in children.

@@@@RW - Again, the AAP uses lead-in-paint and dust to make a point in a question about lead-in-substrate. This is irrelevant and misleading.   They want you to believe it's all one-and-the-same.  The final sentence is also unsupported. A very high concentration of lead in hard plastic will NOT lead more "quickly" to higher blood levels than a lower concentration of SOLUBLE LEAD in another form (say, dust or lead-in-paint). This is plain baloney and is not supported by scientific findings or common experience. The AAP should be embarrassed.

What’s considered a high blood lead level?

Blood lead level is measured in micrograms per deciliter (mcg/dL). In general, research currently indicates that 1 IQ point is lost every time a child’s blood lead level rises 1 mcg/dL at levels in the range of 3 to 10 mcg/dL. Above a level of 10 mcg/dL, IQ loss occurs somewhat more slowly, but other health consequences may appear, such as interference with iron metabolism. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that the source of lead exposure be investigated for any child with a blood lead level of 10 mcg/dL or higher.

@@@@RW - The AAP does not correlate actual data and science with their declarative statements and misleading remarks. Consider their claim that "[in] general, research currently indicates that 1 IQ point is lost every time a child’s blood lead level rises 1 mcg/dL at levels in the range of 3 to 10 mcg/dL" with the above-referenced scientific study cited by the AAP.  The AAP's statement over-promises by a wide margin. Their clear implication is that high blood lead levels are like an IQ ratchet wrench but the literature speaks more carefully and notes many problems with reaching black-and-white conclusions.  This may be why you did not seem to lose too many IQ points fastening lead fishing lures with your teeth as a kid.  Someone once left a comment in my blog that they must have lost thousands of IQ points from lead over the years. This is what they meant.

I urge you to be suspicious of the assertions of pseudo-scientists who don't back up their big claims.  If the claims are true, then there should be no reason not to trade in data.  Hey, AAP, where are all the victims?  Can you hear me yet???

What are current average blood lead levels in the United States?

The removal of lead from gasoline and paint in the 1970s resulted in a precipitous drop in child blood lead levels. Between 1976 and 1980, the average blood lead level for children age 1 to 5 years was 14.9 mcg/dL and blood lead levels over 40 mcg/dL were not uncommon. Today, the average blood lead level for children age 1 to 5 years is 1.5 mcg/dL (CDC NHANES, 2007-8). However, about one percent of children still have blood lead levels 10 mcg/dL or higher.

@@@@RW - This is the point Rep. Bono-Mack made at the February hearing. The last sentence is meant to scare Congress into believing that we do not know how children today come to suffer high blood lead levels - leaving the dark impression that it may be the fault of children's products. We do know the answer to this question, however - the EPA and CDC tell us that the causal agents are house paint, the consequences of leaded gasoline use and industrial pollution. It's certainly NOT lead-in-substrate. If it were, there might be at least ONE victim they could trot out. Those victims don't exist.

What is the treatment for elevated blood lead levels?

There is no treatment available for low to moderate blood lead levels. At levels of 45 mcg/dL and higher, physicians may recommend chelation, which involves administering a drug that binds to lead in the bloodstream. Chelation is not, however, effective at lower blood lead levels, and it carries risks of its own. Chelation does not reverse the damage done by lead to the developing brain.

@@@@RW - Interesting but irrelevant. This law is about lead-in-substrate. The AAP is not talking about a problem caused by lead-in-substrate here, so it's completely irrelevant to the matter at hand.  It sounds creepy, however, so I can understand why they felt it necessary to mention it.

What is a safe level of lead?

Scientists have not been able to identify a safe level of lead in the human body. Research shows that lead causes harm down to very low levels, below which the science remains unclear.

@@@@RW - Whether there is or is not a safe level for lead is not relevant here. What is relevant is whether lead-in-substrate can harm children. The AAP has never proven it, just asserted it. There is no evidence that lead-in-substrate can harm children in any material or detectable way. Until the consumer groups can offer up something more persuasive than their usual declarative statements, they should be kept out of the room.

For more information, please contact Cindy Pellegrini (cpellegrini@aap.org) or Kristen Mizzi (kmizzi@aap.org), at the American Academy of Pediatrics, 202/347-8600.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

CPSIA - Quick Observations about the New CPSIA Amendment Draft

The revised amendment of the CPSIA (oddly titled "Enhancing CPSC Authority and Discretion Act of 2011") published today is due to be "marked up" by the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade on Thursday.  This amendment has clearly been "tuned" to appeal to the Senate, not to fix all known issues under the CPSIA.

That said, the Republicans have been stalwart in their attentiveness to the business issues caused by the CPSIA for the last three years.  They had every opportunity to throw us under the bus and turn to more productive undertakings.  Certainly that was the strategy the Dems tried to implement.  The Republicans are to be congratulated for their commitment and loyalty to mission.  We would be in the soup but for them.  The Dems remain the roadblock even today.  It's very sad - not a one of them has ever defected or demonstrated an ability to think for themselves.

To properly review this draft requires redlining and comparing it in detail to the existing law.  I don't have time tonight for that tedious exercise.  Here is what I have been able to glean so far:

a.  Definition of "Children's Product".  No age limit added to the definition of "Children's Product".  This is a "punt" by the Republicans.  They deal with the issues relating to the problematic breadth of this term in other ways.

The definition still plays off subjective elements like the "intent" of the manufacturer.  The draft clarifies that the intent has to be for USE by a child, which will help the Promotional Products industry and certain other innocent victims of this stupid law.

b.  Lead-in-Substrate Standard.  The standard has been restated from ppm to percents.  While this does not change the absolute levels of lead in the law, it DOES reduce the absurd precision of a ppm standard.  For example, under the old standard, 301 ppm lead levels would fail the standard, but under the reformulation, it would pass (rounding).  This reduces the randomness of the standard somewhat (49 ppm cushion).

SuggestionThe authors of this draft are on the right track, and this is a clever way to provide a small amount of cushion for businesses attempting to be good citizens.  Let's hold that thought - and build a really fair approach to tolerances and cushions.  The marginal physical impact of contact with lead-in-substrate between 300 ppm and 600 ppm is nil.  There are no documented cases of lead poisoning from lead-in-substrate at ANY LEVEL anywhere ever.  When a manufacturer makes an effort to reduce lead levels, the levels fall precipitously but not always predictably or repeatably.  If the law's purpose is to incentivize good corporate behavior, why not set a higher limit that can't be hit accidentally, and patrol it carefully?  This is the original idea behind the 600 ppm lead-in-paint limit and it worked well (the agency's enforcement and industry outreach efforts didn't, however).  Why not take the same approach, since the new draft ACKNOWLEDGES the power and authority of the regulatory technique?

The 100 ppm standard becomes effective one year later now, in August 2012, but the application of the standard has been trimmed.  The standard will now only apply to Children's Products for kids six years and younger, and only to parts that can be sucked and chewed (not just licked).  All other parts are subject to the current 300 ppm standard (.03%).  This means that some relief is coming on the prospect of the 100 ppm standard.  I consider this decision political, not policy - again, no one has yet to identify a SINGLE VICTIM of this purported hazard.  This term is designed to be passed, not designed to be good policy.

The standards will now apply prospectively - so your inventory will be safe.  This term was requested by the CPSC Commission so presumably it will not be controversial.

c.  "Functional Purpose" Exemption Restored.  The useless and almost mathematically impossible "functional purpose" exemption process advocated by Mr. Waxman and Chairman Tenenbaum have been added to the amendment.  This may be good politics ("we are listening to you!") but will never be used by anyone ever.  A waste of space.

SuggestionDon't even bother reading it.

d.  Gift to the ATV'rs, Bicycle Manufacturers, baseball bats manufacturers - but NOT Apparel.  The standard for metals in "outdoor recreational products" has been reset to match the levels permitted in the current stay (see 16 CFR 1500.88).  Battery terminals are exempted . . . but only on outdoor recreational products.

ObservationThis is yet another political choice that really does not stand up to reason.  For one thing, this rule permits the use of brass - lead is exempted up to 4% by weight (and unlimited in bronze).  Unfortunately, unless you make an outdoor trombone, this term is not useful to you.  There goes the school band!  Likewise, ballpoint pens are not exempt unless they are considered an "outdoor recreational product".  Ummm, Congress, is brass dangerous or is it safe?  If it's safe, it's always safe, not just outside in the sunshine.  Likewise, battery terminals are not just safe outdoors - I just don't get this one.  Having had the insight that we can live with normal lead levels in metal alloys, WHY is it necessary to restrict this to outdoor products.  Is it really necessary to mask your efforts to help the bike, motorcycle and ATV factions?  Why not use your basic insight that these metals are tolerable AND GIVE EVERYONE A BREAK?

At some point, in this policy fiasco, politics needs to be suppressed for the greater good of critical markets we have crippled through foolish legislation.  Let's get the job done right this time.

e.  The Prior Draft's Relief for Used Products Appears Intact.

f.  "15 Month Rule" is now Optional.  The CPSC is no longer under an obligation to go through a rulemaking process to satisfy the original requirements of the 15 Month Rule.  Let's hope they schedule a looooooonnng vacation.  The new draft also adds a cost-benefit analysis and "least possible burden" requirement to any rule made in this vein.  That means that the current draft of the 15 Month Rule is kaput (assuming this draft becomes law. . . ).

g.  Third Party Testing Requirements Restructured.  This one's going to be controversial - but only because of the political considerations, not because anyone has any data or proof that this change is "bad".  The new draft says that testing with a third party lab is OPTIONAL now.  Certifying compliance remains mandatory.  The CPSC may (by rule) mandate testing for particular products or product classes subject to certain restrictions, including cost-benefit analysis and a "least possible burden" requirement.  An annual small quantity exception of 10,000 units will help small and medium-sized manufacturers further reduce testing and compliance costs.  The law mandates a stay of enforcement until the agency goes through all the required steps.  [Be still my heart, do you think this term would ever pass through the Senate???]

[I skipped the rules on Durable Products Rules and FDA Regs.]

h.  Phthalates Standard applies only to Accessible Parts (Sucked and Chewed), but Prospective Application was Removed.  i believe the judgment was made that this standard is old news and making it prospective would not be worth the fight.  If you are sitting on significant inventory affected by this choice, you may wish to raise your hand (at long last).  No age limit was added here, so toys for 10 year olds are still subject to this wasteful rule, and no preemption language was added to beat back CA law.  So this is only a partial improvement.

i.  CPSC Has New Power to Exempt Products from Tracking Labels.  But That's It.  You are still required to waste your money on useless and unproven tracking labels.  Jan Schakowsky thinks they're just like "sell by" date labels on milk cartons, so we should all be glad.   Right???

j.  The Prior Draft's Revision of the Database Appear to be Intact.  Rumor has it that Mr. Waxman signed off on these changes.  I guess even the Dems recognize that the "protections" provided by the CPSC's rule were insufficient.  No more titillation???  Time will tell.

[There are some technical provisions at the end that I also skipped.]

CPSIA - New Draft CPSIA Amendment

Here is the new draft of the CPSIA Amendment.

Monday, May 9, 2011

CPSIA - April 7th CPSIA Hearing Video (Unedited)

Watch this video to the end for a surprise!  That is, if you have a spare seven hours . . . .

CPSIA - Database Fun and Games

Quote:  “I believe that an informed consumer is an empowered consumer,” added Chairman Tenenbaum. “The ability for parents and consumers to search this database for incidents involving a product they already own or are thinking of purchasing will enable them to make independent decisions aimed at keeping their family safe."

Database EntryMicrowave Oven  [Good citizenship award pending . . . .]

Complaint:  "Husband & caller were at fire station meeting.  16 yr old son was babysitting, put food in microwave, approximately 20 seconds later 5 yr old son yelled 'fire', 16 yr old thought maybe microwave had arced & caught fire.  16 yr old grabbed fire extinguisher and put 12" flames out. Caller states that marks on her wall are 12" high.  Parents came home, checked unit out & saw that the cord approximately two inches from where it comes from the back of the microwave.  Cord had not been frayed.  Callers would like this incident investigated before there is a fire in someone's home that goes unnoticed until it is too late."  [Emphasis added]

Reply:  "Unit was picked up from consumer and evaluated. It was completely filthy and infested with live and dead roaches. Cord fire that was reported was due to a fire that was located outside of the unit as neither end of the cord was damaged or affected. Consumer was negligent in caring for the unit and this resulted in the unit not working."

Quote:  "The CPSC’s product safety database would serve as an early warning system for unsafe products and has the potential to save lives. . . . This database will provide important safety information to American consumers.”  Senator Jay Rockefeller

Database EntryBra  [One word:  Titillation!]

Complaint:  "Silicon Bra Strap Cushion, she put it on wore it all on Sunday 3/20/11. After she removed her bra Sunday night, she had a blister and burning sensation on her shoulders. On Monday, the 21st, she took pictures of her shoulders. She took subsequent pcitures (sic)on the 22nd, the 26th, and the 28th.  She felt the burning sensation for 3 days after wearing the product. She kept one pad of a pair of the bra strap and sent the other cushion to Miles Kimball at their request."

No Reply.  The pictures (yes, PICTURES) speak for themselves.  Another noble public service provided courtesy of your tax dollars at work.

Quote:  "[Ami] Gadhia [policy counsel] at Consumers Union countered that knowing about a near miss can be just as important as knowing about an actual injury. 'If someone narrowly avoids getting hurt, that's a good piece of information for consumers to have,' she said."

Database EntrySerated (sic) pie server  [Who KNEW knives were sharp?!]
Complaint:  "The Pampered Chef brand Slice N Serve serated pie server is razor sharp. I accidentally sliced my finger open with it. There was no defect with the product, it's just a lot sharper than most people would expect from this category of product. I have heard other people say they cut themselves with this same product."  [Emphasis added]
Reply:  "An individual has submitted a report to the CPSC regarding "Slice ‘N Serve, " a product distributed by The Pampered Chef, Ltd. (“The Pampered Chef”). This individual acknowledged that the product had no defect. Moreover, each Slice ‘N Serve is packaged with a “Use and Care” card, which provides clear instructions on how to safely and properly use the product, as well as Important Safeguards. The Important Safeguards warn that the blade is extremely sharp to offer the customer the best performance and may cause injury if not used properly. Product Use and Care information is also available on our website (www.pamperedchef.com) by clicking to the particular product description on our website."   [Emphasis added]
Quote:  “So far, we haven’t had any problems with it,” Tenenbaum told the Palmetto Forum in a lunch meeting in Columbia. The forum, affiliated with the University of South Carolina’s Walker Institute, hosts lunch seminars to stimulate discussion of international issues. the database, established in March after years of protests by business interests, allows consumers to submit reports of harm or potential harm by a variety of products. After officials review the complaint, manufacturers are given 10 days to respond to or challenge the submission.  [Emphasis added]
Database EntrySummer Infant Video Monitor  [Is there any legal basis to recall consumers, instead of products?]
Complaint:  We use the Summer Infant video monitor. We would sit the camera on the top of the crib corner, and at 9 months the baby was able to reach it and pull it down along with the long cord. We would watch her playing with the camera, and when we came into her room noticed that the cord was tightly wrapped around her neck, but there was not injury.  
Additional Details:  We have modified the cord (tied it together) so it no longer has slack and can not be pulled into the crib by the baby.
No reply.  What can you say???

CPSIA - Where are We Now?

I wanted to give you a sense of where the CPSIA amendment effort is right now.  Congress was off on holiday and is now back at work.  While the Members were out, staff on the House Energy and Commerce Committee continued to work on language to broker a solution to the impasse over the CPSIA amendment.  There are continuing discussions with all stakeholders, including consumer groups and the like, and some progress seems to be possible.  That said, the strategy is to craft an amendment that can pass or at least be considered in the Senate.  If the House passes something that the Senate won't consider, nothing will have been achieved. 

There seems to be little doubt that everyone wants to do "something" but what that is remains to be seen. The consequences of the April 7th admission by the consumer group zealots that NO LEAD-IN-SUBSTRATE VICTIMS CAN BE IDENTIFIED ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD AT ANY TIME seems to be basically nil.  The Republicans didn't need to be convinced, and the Democrats are so close-minded that it really didn't matter what testimony the zealots gave.  The Dems are against making changes, regardless of the shocking and shameful absence of data to support their position.  They're like weathermen - they are not bothered by being wrong.

Please note that video of the April 7th CPSIA hearing has yet to be released.  I have requested a copy of the video and will make it available to you if I can ever get it.

While the worm turns glacially in Congress, the CPSC is purportedly hard at work trying to complete the ironically-named "15 Month Rule" (originally due in November 2009).  This is the scorched Earth, death-to-business rule originally put out in draft form.  The CPSC wants to complete it now because they too are apparently deaf to our pleas.  Expect the worst sometime soon.  This adds to the urgency of the stalled negotiations on the CPSIA amendment.