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CPSC Mulls Request to Delay Lead Limit

Published February 4, 2009

BETHESDA, MD (BRAIN)—The National Association of Manufacturers filed a petition with the Consumer Product Safety Commission on Tuesday asking to delay the start of the strict new lead limit in children’s products because of its potentially devastating economic impact.

The Bicycle Product Suppliers Association is backing the request, which attempts to stay the effective date of the lead limit by 185 days. The current effective date is Feb. 10.

After that date, any children’s product, including bikes, containing parts that exceed a lead content of 600 parts per million will be banned from retail shelves. Bikes contain small parts like valve stems and spoke nipples that exceed the new lead limit, but fall below the European standard.

Last week, the CPSC pushed back the third party testing deadline and certification process for lead content to Feb. 10, 2010, but said companies would still have to comply with the lead limit.

The National Association of Manufacturers hopes the commission will change its mind, saying it is impossible for thousands of manufacturers, distributors, sellers and resellers to meet the new lead content requirements by Tuesday.

“We do not think that when it adopted the deadlines in the CPSIA, Congress realized or intended to effectuate a massive economic dislocation at a time when so many businesses are teetering on the edge of financial ruin and we are suffering the largest job losses in decades,” the petition says.

The CPSC’s ballot vote on the request is due Feb. 9.

In the mean time, Bikes Belong has joined forces with the BPSA in an attempt to spread the word around Washington about the law’s adverse impact on the bike industry.

Bikes Belong doesn’t typically get involved with trade issues, but readily stepped up to the plate when the BPSA asked for assistance about 10 days ago, said Tim Blumenthal, executive director of Bikes Belong.

“We’re happy to help with this because it’s such a big thing with such dire consequences to the industry,” Blumenthal said. “The one thing we have, thanks in part to our work in the last four and five year, is we have some pretty strong relations with members of Congress on both sides of the aisle.”

Blumenthal and Gary Sjoquist, Bikes Belong’s director of government relations, and Mike Tongour, the nonprofit’s chief lobbyist, met with a half dozen congressional leaders on Tuesday to discuss several topics, including the CPSIA.

“It didn’t take very long to explain how this is a serious issue to the bike community,” Blumenthal said. “The response was, ‘Wow that would be really bad. We don’t want to see that happen.’ I think there also is a strong desire on the part of members of Congress to be efficient and to not feel compelled or get locked into responding on behalf of every individual user group and manufacturer when it’s such a broad thing. The efficiency right now is the NAM petition.”

Blumenthal said Bikes Belong would continue to work with the BPSA and use its personal connections in Congress to help push the issue if necessary.

—Nicole Formosa

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