CPSIA: Learning from Past Mistakes

By April 2, 2009Regulations

Walter Olson at Overlawyered also takes note of yesterday’s NPR report documenting scientific evidence showing phthalates represent no health threat, but were banned nevertheless. From his post, “NPR on CPSIA: “Public Concern, Not Science, Prompts Plastics Ban”:

Although most coverage of the CPSIA debacle (this site’s included) has focused on the lead rules, the phthalates ban is also extraordinarily burdensome, for a number of reasons: 1) as readers may recall, a successful lawsuit by the Natural Resources Defense Council and others forced the last-minute retroactive banning of already-existing playthings and child care items, costing business billions in inventory and other losses; 2) vast numbers of vintage dolls, board games and other existing playthings are noncompliant, which means they cannot legally be resold even at garage sales, let alone thrift or consignment shops, and are marked for landfills instead; 3) obligatory lab testing to prove the non-presence of phthalates in newly made items is even more expensive than testing to prove the non-presence of lead. The phthalate ban is also an important contributor to the burden of the law on the apparel industry (the ingredient has often been used in screen printing on t-shirts and similar items) and books (”book-plus” items with play value often have plastic components). AmendTheCPSIA.com has reprinted a letter from Robert Dawson of Good Times Inc., an amusement maker.

Which makes this item from the Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire blog so dejavuable. “Lawmakers Seek to Ban BPA in Food, Beverage Containers“:

Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Edward Markey introduced similar bills last month to ban the chemical, which has been linked to breast and prostate cancers and reproductive problems in animals, from all food and beverage containers, and Sen. Charles Schumer introduced a bill Tuesday that would ban it from food and beverage containers for infants and toddlers.

The Schumer bill follows a recent move by Long Island’s Suffolk County to ban BPA in young children’s products. His bill, called the BPA-free Kids Act, would enact a nationwide ban and stiff penalties for manufacturers, importers and stores that violate it. The ban, like the one in Suffolk County, would apply to products aimed at children three years old and younger. In a statement, Schumer noted that many major retailers already have removed children’s products containing BPA from their store shelves. Last April, Toys ‘R’ Us, for example, said that by year-end it would stop carrying baby-feeding products containing BPA…

Federal reports on BPA are contradictory. A draft report issued last year by the National Toxicology Program, part of the National Institutes of Health, concluded that BPA may be linked to a number of health and developmental problems, including breast cancer and early puberty. The Food and Drug Administration later said that BPA in small amounts doesn’t pose a health risk.

Yes. Seems awfully familiar.

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