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Wasteful "Nanny State" Law or Imperative Safety Regulation?


Lead poisoning is no joke. We all know that its effects can be devastating, especially for children, and that it's important to make sure that it doesn't find its way into our paint, clothes, or toys. But a new law set to go into effect next month has many resale shops and independent toy and clothes makers extremely concerned.

From the LA Times:

The law, aimed at keeping lead-filled merchandise away from children, mandates that all products sold for those age 12 and younger -- including clothing -- be tested for lead and phthalates, which are chemicals used to make plastics more pliable. Those that haven't been tested will be considered hazardous, regardless of whether they actually contain lead.

Sounds good in theory. But the problems are many. The cost of private lab testing is basically not possible for makers of handcrafted toys and clothing and small resale shops and would take a serious chunk out of the operating budgets for bigger companies like Goodwill. Any products not tested by February 10, when the law is set to go into effect, would have to be thrown out. Obviously this would further junk up our already disgusting landfills, but would deal a huge loss to smaller sellers, and would leave those who depend on resale shops for clothing facing some bare racks.

Critics argue that the regulation is too broad and exemptions may be made for clothes and toys made of wool or wood or other natural materials that do not contain lead. But anything made with dyes or blended materials would still need to be tested.

What really irks me is that it's not like we haven't known for, literally, thousands of years how dangerous lead is. The blame here really lies with the manufacturers who still use it, regardless of the effects it might have on the health of their consumers. I'm sorry to get all Marxist on you this early in the day, but these companies that just recklessly seek profits by cutting corners on safety make me furious. They've already made their money and aren't going to experience the significant losses that the sellers will. They're already making new, shitty products that probably contain some other, cost-cutting ingredient that makes you sick, assembled by underpaid and overworked and no-longer-giving-a-shit workers. It's true that you can't legislate morality...especially when these moneygrubbers don't have any to begin with.

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Marmite Breath

I read this yesterday and my frikkin head exploded! So this would also affect anything that I make and sell on Etsy or Craigslist? Garage sales?

Am I not understanding this whole thing, or does it just seem like, "Nuh uh, there's no way the government can regulate the selling of children's used clothing/toys etc"


My head is exploding at this, too! I'm pregant with my first and since I'm the first of our friends to have a kid I was planning on using goodwill and craigslist, etc. to find hand-me-downs. The whole thing just seems overreactive.

Robyn G

Yeah, this sucks donkey balls.

Read more about the new legislation here:


...and see what you can do about it here:


(I can't remember, but I think perhaps MamaPop covered this when it first popped up, and I apologize if I'm stepping on any toes by providing those links. If so, you know, just remove them.)


President Elect Obama's transition site {change.gov? oddly work web won't let me go to it - gotta love a red state} is allowing people to vote for the 10 things first presented to him. Each person can get 10 votes - one of which can be used for this very topic. PLEASE go check it out {and you get to vote for other topics near and dear to you - PARTICIPATE in YOUR govenrnment}.

Amy H

I posted about this on my blog earlier this week. I also went to change.gov and voted and have a link on my site. This is really a good law gone bad and I am surprised that people aren't more outraged by this.

My biggest beef with this (since I don't own a business and won't be affected in the same way business owners will be) is that the people in Washington who probably NEVER rely on consignment shops or Craig's List are making laws that affect those of us that do WITHOUT EVEN REALIZING THE IMPLICATIONS this law has on our budgets. In a bad economy they are just about to make things incredibly worse.


IF they continue forward with this law...they REALLY need to make it more user-friendly. I have no problem with trying to make the world a better and safer place, obviously, but this will only serve to make the poorer, poorer, and put lots of good-hearted non-profits out of business, thus, people out of work.

Why do these items need to be tested in a lab? I can go to Rite-Aid, Home Depot, etc. and buy a lead-testing kit myself. If the government is so hell-bent on putting this law into place, perhaps they should provide lead-testing kits to the Goodwills, Salvation Armys, etc., so the employees can do the testing, themselves. Every time a certain toy or whatever passes the test - document it and share the info with the public, in addition to those items that fail the test. Sooner or later (yes - later - much later), they'd have a pretty thorough picture.



I'm a lawyer and my husband is a lawyer and here's the bottom line: Don't worry! Full disclosure is that I make my living making children's clothes and sell them on my own website (I'm a stay at home mom now, not practicing law) and this law is ridiculous. It will never be enforced as there is no way for anyone to do that. I am in absolute agreement with the rage at the lawmakers and the insanity of the idea in general (not making kid's safety an issue, just going about it this way) but the bottom line is that we've talked to tons of people in the past few months and there are thousand of lawyers ready to take your case free of charge if anyone really tried to pop you for this. It's not going to happen. I'm not making light of people worrying about their businesses at all but it's a non issue.

Sam Wise

The new law does NOT affect resales of used items. http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml09/09086.html
There has been some confusion over the law, which is why the CPSC has issued this release. I highly suggest concerned citizens read through and familiarize themselves with the law before jumping to conclusions; remember, newspapers are not always the most reliable resources. When in doubt, go to the source.

(Sorry, but I work for CALPIRG. Couldn't help getting annoyed at LA Times writer and needed to toss my two cents into the pot. MamaPop is, as always, lovely.)

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