Evan Dorkin rounds up the potential dangers of too-literal readings of recent laws aimed at testing lead levels in children’s toys:

Anyway — said impact will be nothing short of devastating for many small businesses, home-crafters, DIY-ers, toy manufacturers, clothing manufacturers, re-sellers, used clothing shops, thrift shops, and so on and so forth. And also, libraries, book stores and yeah, comic shops. Because a ton of stuff is being lumped together under this act, which will require expensive product testing for anything deemed “for children”. Children’s clothes, books, comics, school supplies, toys, costumes, need I go on? And second-hand items, clothes, toys, books, back issues, etc. It doesn’t end once you start thinking about it. And, in fact, it gets worse, because it affects inventory. So, dump your inventory, Target, Toys R Us, etc, and smaller businesses, you lose those toys and shirts that will possibly bankrupt you. No more crafting on Etsy, et al. You can’t even, under this law, knit blankets for Project Linus , which provides blankets for children in need. So why the F didn’t the people who slapped this together think about it?

A follow-up post takes on debunkers of the alarm bells:

As Sarah says — unfortunately, people are going to believe whom they want to believe, but I actually read through the relevant sections myself and Snopes is wrong. It’s not murky. Enforcement will probably be murky, but the law is not. I think they’re wrong, too. We’ve seen a lot of people slamming the Snopes article, but apparently the people at the site have made up their minds and are sticking to their guns. So, who debunks the debunkers? I dunno. Life is sticky.


  1. The Snopes piece’s description of the CPSC’s statement re the CPSIA does effectively refute fears that selling untested used clothing, books, etc., after February 10 will be illegal. After all, the threat that a given load of used clothing will have excessive lead content is minimal — and a violation of a law isn’t significant unless someone prosecutes. Unless a business flagrantly deals in products known to have lead level or phthalates problems — at the worst, it would be like police going after a child for operating a lemonade stand without a vendor’s license.


  2. Heavy metal poisoning is very bad news for those who suffer from it. Just ask Kurt Busiek. Lead is a heavy metal, thus the law. But the law doesn’t cover mercury. It can’t. The pharmaceutical companies wouldn’t allow that to happen. There is mercury in some vaccines.

    There is also mercury in some high fructose corn syrup. Reports out recently state that the FDA knew this since 2005.

    So, while the law protects children from contact with lead, it does nothing about contact with mercury, allowing people to ingest it daily.

  3. Steven: except places like charities and libraries like to know that what they’re doing is completely legal…they don’t want to be told that suddenly they’re operating in a legal gray area.

    They need to revise the bill. Simply saying “don’t worry, we won’t go after you…even though the law says we could” isn’t good enough.

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