Lead Testing Mandate Reversal: Bad for Kids? Good for the Planet?

by , 03/03/09

Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act,  lead testing,  second hand,  thrift store,  vintage

It is a certainty that the new lead testing mandate enacted by the government on February 10th is a response to the increased numbers of cases involving children that have succumbed to the dangers of lead poisoning (currently approximately 4%). But at a time when environmentalists were celebrating the nation’s new turn to used clothing and home products, it served a brief, but damaging, blow to this new, environmentally healthy trend.

In the poll below we’d like to know what you think…

Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act,  lead testing,  second hand,  thrift store,  vintage

The new regulation under the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) would have forced retailers of used and vintage products for children (specifically thrift stores) to discard vast quantities of their stock. These items, once destined for an extended life as someone’s new wardrobe addition, or raw material for a recycled garment, would ultimately have ended up in landfills. Landfills that are already chock full of trillion of tons of waste produced by the garment and toy industries.

Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act,  lead testing,  second hand,  thrift store,  vintage

Theoretically, this mandate could not have come at a better time. Parents are turning up at thrift stores in increasing numbers, snapping up growing volumes of play, furniture and clothing items for their kids. So it makes sense that steps be taken to protect these new and somewhat naïve consumers. But could these steps have been in the form of better consumer education? Or mandated warning labels for suspect items? It seemed to have been the “axe versus scalpel” approach our current administration vowed to do away with. And outraged thrift store owners and managers retaliated en masse.

Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act,  lead testing,  second hand,  thrift store,  vintage

As a result, officials with the Consumer Product Safety Commission now say that they were wrong, that thrift stores should not be forced to test the products they sell, that “clothes, toys or other merchandise for children younger than 12 that had not been tested for lead” can turn up in an unwitting shopper’s reusable canvas tote. Store owners, of course, are rejoicing, and so are many environmental activists. But where does this leave the thrifty consumer innocently shopping the local Salvation Army store for toys for her daughter? Or the eco-conscious parent who could not have imagined that the the ‘barely used’ push-toy was barely used because the previous owner found it contained lead in the paint?

We ask our readers: Is the new reversal of the Lead Testing regulation for resellers of children’s products a good or bad thing? Enter your response in the poll below.

Are you in Favor of the Lead Testing Reversal?

Yes – Thrift stores should not be required to test their products for lead.
No – I want to know what I am purchasing is free and clear of lead.  

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2 Responses to “Lead Testing Mandate Reversal: Bad for Kids? Good for the Planet?”

  1. Marcy says:

    The thing is, mandating that thrift stores test their products would mean there would be no more thrift stores. The testing is exhobirtantly expensive (hundreds if not thousands of dollars per item). The vast majority of the items in question are extremely unlikely to contain lead anyway (cloth and wood, for example, and paints– lead has been outlawed from any paint in the US for years).

  2. BethS says:

    I heard that the law mandates a “low” level of lead and many hand-made toy makers that don’t use any lead in their products would share the same “safe” label. Also, there is an issue with the actual labeling that it is mandated as having to be permanently fixed to the merchandise.

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