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Where is the Guidebook

Where is the Guidebook
Category: Safety and Regulations
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National Bankruptcy Day, plus 2.

Ok, it's now NB-Day, plus 2. (NB standing for "National Bankruptcy".) And thus far, only a 16 page brief has been published by the CPSC to help the millions of businesses affected by the CPSIA to figure out how to navigate it.

Here is an excerpt of materials exempt from the new law:

Dyed or undyed textiles (cotton, wool, hemp, nylon, etc.), including children’s fabric products, such as baby blankets, and nonā€metallic thread and trim. This does not include products that have rhinestones or other ornaments that may contain lead or that have fasteners with possible lead content (such as buttons, metal snaps, zippers or grommets).

So basically, a plain t-shirt or sweater or sweatpants are ok. Once you add a button, zipper, or grommet - maybe not ok.

I was fully intent on clearing my shelves of all known "banned hazardous substance" on Tuesday morning. I expected that my government would have their (phthalate free) ducks in a row and be able to tell me what (specifically) was bad and I would dutifully remove them from the store, contact the manufacturer for a full refund (as these banned substances would of course be recalled and so the manufacturer would be responsible for compensating me) and move on with life.

Unfortunately, there is no such master list. In fact, the CPSC has requested we tell them the results of the tests we pay for!

So while we have removed many items with the shiny bling (rhinestones are apparently notorious for having lead - it's what makes them shiny), we just can't toss out 99% of our clothing that has buttons, zippers, or grommets because there is a small chance that it may have lead. We also can't test (the lead tests in the store aren't accurate enough and the XRF gun costs about $1500 to rent or $35,000 to buy). To ask the manufacturer would be pointless as we wouldn't be able to provide batches or dates of manufacture assuming they kept such detailed records when it wasn't required of them in the first place.

So, while we have been assured by all the manufacturers of our new items, that they are in compliance, I haven't got a clue about our used items. I just can't believe it makes any sense to toss it all out as hazardous.

How is a zipper (leaded or unleaded) on my 8 year old daughter any more dangerous than having her run around naked in the cold because I can't afford new tested and certified clothing for her? Is she going to die of lead poisoning from the possible lead in her bike tire's valve stem? Are phthalates in her American Girl Doll (if they are present - I really have no idea) going to stunt her growth?

While there have been some studies with phthalates that indicate a cause for concern (see post below), there are many others that show no problem. Even the law itself says the ban is only permanent on 3 types of phthalates, for 3 other types the law calls for more testing to determine if the ban will be permanent.

I'm still hopeful that Senator Demint (now joined by my own Congressman Bartlett) will be able to fix this poor legislation quickly. If the CPSC or some antsy Attorney General decides to enforce the CPSIA before the fix, National Bankruptcy Day won't just be a rallying cry, it'll be reality.

Call your Congressmen (202-225-3121) and Senators (202-224-3121) today and tell them to support HR-968 (House version) S-347 (Senate version).

By the way, you'll be happy to know that Congress did act to delay the implementation of the Digital TV transition from February 17 till June 12. Apparently 4 years notice and $1.5 billion dollars wasn't enough. Yeah, it's estimated that law affects about 2% of Americans that are still unprepared for Digital TV. The CPSIA affects everyone with children 12 and younger. I'm not sure of the percentage, but I'm thinking it's more than 2%.

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