Are the dreaded consequences of CPSIA really "unintended"?
Rick Woldenberg's testimony/letter on TSCA

Save us from the CPSIA urban legends

The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act was jump-started on the tragic death of young Jarnell Brown, who had ingested a lead-containing charm from a charm bracelet in 2006.

Based on a widely publicized story in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star-Tribune, many thought that the bracelet in question came from his mother's new shoes.

Jarnell swallowed part of a charm bracelet that came with his mother's new Reebok sneakers. Doctors said his lead levels were three times the danger level. His death caused Reebok to recall 300,000 bracelets and eventually pay federal regulators a $1 million settlement.

After a good deal of research, I can conclude that the bracelets were packaged with children's footwear only—although such a definitive statement is not actually made anywhere.

As it happens, there were numerous inconsistencies in the reporting of this entire tragic business, including the health of the child before this incident, how he obtained the bracelet, and how a child with supposedly no history of ingesting foreign objects did so.

Moreover, this bracelet appeared only in shoes for girls, so one might assume that his mother did not buy them for him, and her original account whereby the bracelet belonged to a friend makes more sense.

At any rate, the bracelets were in violation of existing standards, and CPSIA does not really change anything.

Another story has to do with cribs used in day care centers. Commercial cribs intended for this application can be provided with clear plastic sheets to be placed at the head and foot of the cribs, allowing workers to see the kids if the cribs are lined up. The sheets also prevent direct cross-contamination.

Since phthalates (also banned under CPSIA) are used in the manufacture of acrylic plastics, it was thought that the sheets could not longer be used. Furthermore, the only other approach would be to use polycarbonate, but this contains BPA, another banned substance. Thus, there would be no solution to this problem.

It turns out the although phthalates are used in the manufacture of some acrylic formats, they are NOT used in acrylic sheet. Only, try finding that out on your own!

The plastics and crib people are not exactly shouting this information from the rooftops. Believe it or not, their position is that since a price tag containing phthalates could be put on the crib (or on the sheet itself) how can they guarantee that the product is phthalates free?

BPA is used in the manufacture of polycarbonate, so that problem does exist.


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