The New York Times, after months of neglect, has finally weighed in on the debacle that is the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008. The Times' conclusion? Everything is cool. The law is vitally necessary. And worries about what the law will do to small business are completely unfounded.
Last year, Congress passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, giving new authority and resources to a shockingly understaffed agency. The law has been described, accurately, as providing the safety net that consumers assumed they already had.
Unfortunately, the commission has yet to implement important aspects of the new law. The delay has caused confusion and allowed opponents to foment needless fears that the law could injure smaller enterprises like libraries, resale shops and handmade toy businesses.
My conclusion diverges rather sharply from that of the Times, but it can be expressed in fewer words: The Times is full of shit.
Either the Times editorial board did not read the law, or they did, and they are lying to their readers. I suspect that the first option is true.
I have read the law. The specific worry about what the law will do to smaller enterprises like libraries, resale shops, and handmade toy businesses, as well as any other business producing or selling consumer products primarily intended for children under 12, is that it will bankrupt them by requiring them to test such products for lead and phthalates at ruinous cost. And it will.
The law contains no exceptions to the testing requirement. The only exception that the law contains, at all, is that the Consumer Product Safety Commission may
by regulation, exclude a specific product or material from the prohibition in subsection (a) if the Commission, after notice and a hearing, determines on the basis of the best-available, objective, peer-reviewed, scientific evidence that lead in such product or material will neither–
(A) result in the absorption of any lead into the human body, taking into account normal and reasonably foreseeable use and abuse of such product by a child, including swallowing, mouthing, breaking, or other children's activities, and the aging of the product; nor
(B) have any other adverse impact on public health or safety.
Which means that the Commission can exempt products known to contain lead from a general prohibition. But that does not mean that such products are exempt from testing requirements. All children's products must be tested, forever. You can read the bill yourself and make that determination.
Wonder that the Times didn't.
Thanks to Overlawyered, which has much more on the Times and its willful blindness, for the tip.