Health Benefits in Check

Last week I received a letter from a father of a child with juvenile diabetes who told me of his efforts to raise money to support scientific research to prevent this terrible childhood disease.  I will leave it to you to reach your own conclusions as to whether public health is benefited from his experience:

“Commissioner Nord:

I have learned of the controversy surrounding the Consumer Product Safety laws regarding lead in children’s products.  I wanted to bring to your attention a plan I had been developing to collect and market used denim jeans, with the proceeds to benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).  I have now learned that my planned sale of used denim jeans would be in violation of Consumer Product Safety laws as they relate to lead.  I have therefore, halted all efforts to develop this charitable plan.

[Using] girl and boy scouts and local young people interested in community service, we…expected to raise several thousand dollars for the JDRF.  Not huge sums of money -but denim jeans are a “renewable” resource.  If successful, this effort could be renewed regularly in the same or different areas, communities and cities.  The garments would be recycled (always a plus) and the JDRF, and other charities could financially benefit.  It appeared to me to be a “win” for everybody. 

Unfortunately, what I assume are unintended consequences have conspired to deny me the opportunity to make this effort.  While it baffles me how this prohibition can be realistically justified, I respect that it is the law and I will of course, make no attempt to pursue this charitable endeavor…”.

In a world of scarce resources, we have to be smart about the requirements that are imposed on the public. I question whether the health benefit, if any, from prohibiting sale of used kids jeans offset those flowing from efforts like that described above but which do not pass muster under CPSIA.

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5 Responses to “Health Benefits in Check”


  1. 1 Monkey Chi Monkey Do February 23, 2011 at 9:16 am

    What I don’t understand is, if CPS law impact this dad’s charitable efforts, why then are Goodwill and charity types of shops selling kids’ jeans? Aren’t they too, in violation? Also, wouldn’t the dad be allowed to resell them using the Good Samaritan’s Law?

    Thanks for these posts, Nancy, and for sharing your research and your concerns!

  2. 2 Sarah Natividad February 22, 2011 at 8:09 pm

    My nephew has a chromosomal defect. He got a grant recently to get a special adaptive tricycle. There is no mass market for these trikes, which is why they’re already expensive enough that he has to get a grant to buy one. What’s he going to do when he grows some more and doesn’t fit the trike, but nobody will make them because they’re afraid of liability under CPSIA?

    My son has Asperger’s Syndrome (a form of autism) and has an oral sensory need. I was able to make him a necklace to chew on, but if I weren’t so talented, what would I do? Would he have ended up like his (also autistic) older brother, licking his hands until they bled? I had to have the felt beads specially made by someone else, and I had to be careful not to let them know that my son was under 12 so they wouldn’t be liable under CPSIA to make sure the handmade 100% wool felt beads were lead-free.

    Many of you out there are blessed to have kids who don’t have disabilities. I just wish the people who don’t understand what it’s like to have to find specialized things that aren’t made by Mattel, would quit trying to make it harder for those of us who need those things because we’re so few in number. They have no idea how much it means to a kid who already feels like a freak to have a tricycle just like everyone else, or to be able to sit still in class and focus just like everyone else.

  3. 3 Janice McAleer February 16, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    There’s probably no other word to describe it except “sad.” Thank you for continuing to post these updates.


  1. 1 Charity blue-jean donation program Trackback on March 1, 2011 at 10:59 pm
  2. 2 Collateral Damage Spreading « Conversations with Consumers Trackback on February 22, 2011 at 3:13 pm

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