Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) last week sent a letter to the Consumer Product Safety Commission asking 10 questions about the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. As chairman of the House Commerce Committee, Rep. Dingell was a voice for a little real-world balance last year when Congress considered H.R. 4040, the CPSIA. Unfortunately, the imbalanced Senate version wound up playing a bigger role in the writing of the final bill.
Which make Rep. Dingell’s inquiries good questions, but belated. For example:
4. Does CPSC have any suggestion for how to mitigate any such economic impact of the Act on small manufacturers of children’s products (e.g., component testing for lead and phthalate content) that, in accordance with the intent of the Act and the CPSC’s mission, will not compromise the health and safety of children using them?
5. What information has CPSC received about the impact of the Act on the availability of second-hand products for children, especially clothing? It is my understanding that many second-hand stores now refuse to sell children’s products. Does CPSC have any suggestions for how to mitigate any negative effects of the Act on second-hand stores for children’s products, especially in light of the recent economic downturn and the consequent increased need for low-cost sources of children’s clothing?
6. Does CPSC believe that the age limit contained in the Act’s definition of “children’s products” (i.e., 12 years and under) is appropriate? If not, what should the age limit be? Further, should CPSC have the discretion to lower the age limit for certain groups of children’s products for which the risk of harm from lead or phthalate exposure is remote to non-existent (e.g., snaps or zippers on children’s clothing)?
7. Although some youth all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and youth motorcycles are intended for use by children under 12 years of age, does CPSC believe it is necessary that these products be tested for lead and phthalate content? Similarly, does CPSC believe that these products present a risk to children for the absorption of phthalates or lead?
There has been an effort by some responsibility-shifting members of Congress to make the CPSC and especially Commissioner Nancy Nord the fall guy for the CPSIA’s many, many excesses. But ultimately, it’s the lawmakers who made the law, and it’s up to Congress to fix it.
To the extent Rep. Dingell’s questions and the answers due this Friday help in the writing of that law, good. Late, but good.
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