Treat contaminated toys like EPA Superfund sites

A St Pete Times article last week illustrated the unforeseen consequences of a federal law going into effect next month.

The law, which would affect manufacturers, retailers, consignment stores and thrift shops around the country, was supposed to thwart the influx of lead-laced children’s toys from China. In 2007, more than 6-million toys were recalled because of lead.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission tentatively approved some exemptions.

But for now, the agency’s stance is that after Feb. 10, all items designed for children 12 and younger must have proof that they were tested for lead.

According to the article the cost of testing can range from under $100 to thousands.

The article details a number of items, stores and individuals that may, or may not be affected by the law.

  • Will garage sales be affected?
  • Will hand made ring bearer pillows need to be tested?
  • Will the law be enforced?

This looks like a great idea that may go severely wrong if not corrected.

“I think it’s important to understand that the Consumer Product Safety Commission is a small agency and the first place we would go would not be the neighborhood yard sale,” said Vallese, the CPSC spokesperson. “But this is not a law that retailers and manufacturers should roll the dice on in the off chance they might not get caught. They have an obligation and responsibility to meet the law.”

The above statement should scare smaller retailers because they may be targeted first to to give large retailers time to comply before being tested and fined.

The CPSC could rationalize that used toys hold the most potential for contaimantion and require the quickest focus.

Target the source

The manufacture and country of origin can usually be identified on the toy itself in most cases (typically etched in hard plastic). So why not allow the retailers to get verification from the manufacture in an effort to better track what groups of toys may be tainted and more importantly which counties are supplying them.

Manufactures are ultimately responsible for having provided production contracts to factories without following up on quality of work and should be responsible for the testing and fines.

The CPSC should help small retailers organize testing and send the bill to manufactures.

In the same way the nation’s Superfund sites are the responsibility of identified sources of contamination so should our children’s toys.

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