First of all thanks for following my blog, I appreciate your comments. I want this to be a place where you can voice your opinions and share your ideas on activities at the Commisison. Many of you have already participated in this dialogue and I encourage you to continue.
The lack of flexibility in the lead provisions of the CPSIA effectively requires the Agency to force from the market products that no one considers a real safety risk. This does not advance consumer safety, diverts staff resources from real safety issues, and puts an unnecessary burden on manufacturers and sellers of children’s products. Today at our Commission public meeting we were presented with a vivid example of this fact. I encourage you to view the webcast. Click on “Commission Public Briefing/Meeting (Wednesday, November 4, 2009, 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.).” My colleague Commissioner Anne Northup made especially persuasive arguments that did not, however, carry the day.
By a 3 to 2 vote the Commission denied a petition for an exclusion from the CPSIA lead provisions for a small brass fitting on a toy car. The Commission also voted down a motion I offered to stay enforcement until Congress could address the reach of this provision. See my statement on today’s vote.
The implications of this vote are significant for the following reasons, among others:
- First, this is the first opportunity that the newly reconstituted CPSC with three new commissioners, has had to consider the appplication of the lead provisions. The Commission has now very clearly determined that we do not have the flexibility under the law to make common sense decisions with respect to lead.
- Second, the impact of this decision goes well beyond the particular toy subject to the petition. I am especially concerned about what this decision means for our schools, where brass is found on desk hinges, coat hooks, locker pulls and many other items. Are schools now going to be forced to remove all brass and if so, who will bear this financial burden?
- Third, brass is found throughout a home and removing it from toys does little in terms of removing it from a child’s environment. If brass were really harmful to children, we would be taking action to remove it from the home but no one is suggesting that there is a safety issue that needs to be addressed in this way.
- Fourth, there will be significant economic injury to not only the company that filed the petition, but also to other companies making children’s products with brass in them.
There has been much lip service, both in Congress and at the CPSC, about common sense application of the law. Today’s action provides no lip balm.