US Poor Children Should Apparently Go Naked

Check out THIS new law going into effect February 10 - a friend questioned if it could possibly be true because it's so mind-numbingly stupid, based on a complete misunderstanding of actually toxic levels of lead. I'm sure this is due to the outcry over Chinese toys with lead based paint, but STILL. Here's the LA Times report:

Regulators rethink rules on testing children's clothing and toys for
lead The Consumer Product Safety Commission gives a preliminary OK to exempt
some items from testing after complaints of hardship to thrift stores
and sellers of handmade toys.

By Alana Semuels
January 7, 2009

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has given preliminary approval to
changes in new lead-testing rules after complaints that the measures
could have forced thrift stores and sellers of handmade toys to dispose
of merchandise or even go out of business.

If formally adopted, the changes approved on a first vote Tuesday would
grant exemptions to last year's Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act,
which seeks to ensure that products for children do not contain
dangerous amounts of lead.

As currently written, the act would require all products aimed at
children 12 and under to be tested for lead and phthalates starting Feb.
10. Phthalates are chemicals used to make plastics more pliable.

Large manufacturers and retailers say the cost of testing will not be a
burden. But small businesses such as handmade-toy shops and thrift
stores say the requirement would force them to spend tens of thousands
of dollars to test products such as clothing, in which the threat of
lead is almost nonexistent. Many thrift stores said they would be forced
to stop selling children's clothing or close altogether.

The commission's two members (a third seat is vacant) voted tentatively
to exempt:

* Items with lead parts that a child cannot access;

* Clothing, toys and other goods made of natural materials such as
cotton and wood; and

* Electronics that are impossible to make without lead.

The commission also tentatively approved a rule that clarifies how it
determines exclusions from the law.

The vote opens up a 30-day public comment period that will begin when
notice of the rules are printed in the Federal Register. Interested
parties can find out how to submit comments by signing up to receive
e-mail from the CPSC at .

No final rules will be approved until after Feb. 10, when the testing
rules go into effect.

That means retailers and manufacturers who sell untested children's
merchandise would technically be in violation of the new law starting
Feb. 10. Whether federal regulators will enforce the rules -- which
might entail inspections at thousands of secondhand stores and toy shops
across the country -- is another question.

"The CPSC is an agency with limited resources and tremendous
responsibility to protect the safety of families," said Scott Wolfson, a
CPSC spokesman. "Our focus will be on those areas we can have the
biggest impact and address the most dangerous products."

So I went to Snopes, and this outrageous and ridiculous legislation is for
real - and it is unfounded in reality - especially when you know how little
clothing and footwear the exceptions allo. And citizens are not allowed to
formally object until AFTER the law goes into effect. The only reason anyone
knows about this is because Consumer Protection is "considering" relaxing
the restrictions, which have no scientific merit in any case.
I signed up to comment when the agency grants the opportunity.

The "exception" under consideration would still ban (re)selling or
buying the huge majority of children's clothing items. This would effect
everything from thrift stores to grannies who knit baby sweaters and sell
them on eBay to garage sales.

It only allows pure wool, cotton, leather, felt, REAL velvet made with
wool or cotton instead of microfibers, suede, fur, silk, cashmere and
angora - plus lesser known "natural" fiber clothing to be exempted from lead
inspection. Any of which could have the miniscule, completely harmless
lead levels enforced here. These are exponentially lower than the
lowest estimate of any hazardous level of lead. Have you checked the
price of even The cheapest natural fiber (100% cotton) clothing recently?
All mixed fiber or non-"natural" fiber kid's clothes would be illegal
to buy or sell without costly lead inspection. This means all pajamas
for infants and children will be illegal to sell by any individual or
thrift store, since flame retardants are non "natural". All permanent
press, fleece,rayon, microfiber, nylon, acrylic, lycra and polyester
clothing would be illegal for thrift shops or family and small businesses
to sell. Most shoes and boots (including any with velcro closures), socks with
elastic so they will stay up, waterproof coats and snowpants, any gloves or mittens with
thinsulate, most hats and belts and all UNDERWEAR with elastic
waistbands instead of cotton drawstrings, metal zippers and snaps or
buttons made of ivory, wood, metal, stone, or bone. Even glass probably
isn't technically a natural material, since it is artificially created,
and plastic is right out. Indeed, any fitted wrist sleeves, wool and
cotton pants or sweats with elastic waist bands or polyester drawstrings
would be subject to inspection. Can you even begin to imagine the cost
of inspecting all of that clothing, or of legally clothing the under 12
crowd in your family with none of these fabrics available to you second
hand or for sale by a clothing maker you hire? And are diapers
considered clothing? Back to metal pins, metal snaps and non-plastic
buttons on those pure cotton diapers with wool as the only allowable
"waterproof" cover, and I can attest from wearing woolen sweaters in
rain storms that wool soaks all through relatively easily. I'm not concerned about
disposables or plastic/latex covers and toddler accident proof undies,
since I don't see them being handcrafted or resold. How about baby
swaddling blankets? are they clothes or bedding? And wouldn't you think
that metal fasteners are a damn sight more likely to contain trace lead
than cloth?

It's like some cultish cross between fanatic pushers of organic fibers
and Levitican Law observance being enforced by the federal government.
What's next, outlawing shrimp, crab, lobster and tuna? Or forbidding
women from living in their homes every menstrual period until they
undergo ancient Jewish purification rituals - and do we even know what
those rituals involved? Or outlawing visual arts and electronic media
because they are graven images?

This incredibly short sighted, expensive and stupid policy comes at a
time of economic collapse, with unemployment higher than any decade since
the Great Depression, when thrift shops will be more necessary than ever
for struggling families. Even WE routinely buy our kids' clothes at
Goodwill because they grow so fast and clothes are so expensive. And that was
before my job ended last month. We now qualify for subsidized housing because we are
officially low income (which would be nice to move to, if there were subsidized
apartments available in our county). I have no idea how we'll dress our
twins if this law goes into effect even WITH the exceptions. Despite
the fact that the agency could never actually enforce inspections due to
its small size, the legal obligation could still drive thrift shops out
of the children's clothes businesses, and possibly out of business
altogether as usually children's clothing and footwear represent at
least 50% of sales.

I urge everyone reading this who was ever a child to go to the
Commission's website and tell them to revise the restrictions in even
the present amended version under consideration. I'm going to strongly
suggest an exception for all second hand and small businesses or individuals
from ALL of the clothing restrictions. The level of lead here wouldn't harm
a Chihuahua,let alone a human child. What happened to science as the basis of such
regulation, instead of irrational panic?


LynAnne Smucker said...

I came across this from the view point of makers of handmade children's clothing, items, and toys. Even the things I made, though not really for kids to play with (i.e. art dolls) would possibly have problems under this ruling. The idea that second-hand clothing and shoes for children would not be allowed for re-sale (via Goodwill or second chance kids stores) is totally wacky. I think it says a lot that science was not really a consideration in drafting this law, after all the Bush administration doesn't believe in global warming.