By a 3-2 vote, the CPSC has confirmed that the absurd and inflexible Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act bans the sale of children’s products which contain components of conventional (leaded) brass. The vote drew dissents from commissioners Anne Northup (statement) and Nancy Nord (official comments, PDF; further statement at her blog). From the latter:
…The Commission has now very clearly determined that we do not have the flexibility under the law to make common sense decisions with respect to lead.
…I am especially concerned about what this decision means for our schools, where brass is found on desk hinges, coat hooks, locker pulls and many other items. Are schools now going to be forced to remove all brass and if so, who will bear this financial burden?
…brass is found throughout a home and removing it from toys does little in terms of removing it from a child’s environment. If brass were really harmful to children, we would be taking action to remove it from the home but no one is suggesting that there is a safety issue that needs to be addressed in this way.
Evidence of actual health risks from brass in the everyday environments of American children is, of course, anything but compelling. Rick Woldenberg has been covering the story here, here, here, and here. Greco Woodcrafting predicts rough times ahead for school bands, as well. And the WSJ editorializes today.
More: this summer the CPSC issued guidance on the closely related topic of ballpoint pens (the roller balls of which include lead alloy); the upshot was so long as manufacturers don’t primarily market any given pen design as being for kids, they’re in the clear, even if large numbers of children are among the pens’ users. (Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association petition and response, both PDF; earlier here, here, etc.) For more on that episode, see 3 Green Angels, NAM “Shop Floor” and more, Rick Woldenberg and more, and Whimsical Walney.
PUBLIC DOMAIN IMAGES from Elise Bake, Der Ball Der Tiere (“The Animals’ Ball”, German, 1891), courtesy ChildrensLibrary.org.