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Lead Rule Set to Take Effect Tomorrow

Published February 6, 2009

BETHESDA, MD (BRAIN)—The Consumer Product Safety Commission on Friday denied a petition to push back a rule that limits the amount of lead in children’s products, but a request for relief specific to the bicycle industry is still pending.

As part of the Consumer Product Safety Information Act, a strict new rule is scheduled to go into effect tomorrow that limits the amount of lead in children’s products, including bikes, to 600 parts per million.

The National Association of Manufacturers filed a petition last week asking the commission to stay the rule for six months due to the lead limit potential to “effectuate a massive economic dislocation.”

The Commission voted 2-0 against the request, saying it doesn’t have the authority to delay the effective date of a law and that Congress must make that decision.

However, that’s not the case with the BPSA request, said Bob Burns, head of BPSA’s legislative committee.

“The difference between the NAM petition and the BPSA petition is, first, the CPSC did not have the statutory authority to grant the NAM petition and it does have the statutory authority to grant the BPSA petition. Second, the BPSA petition is based on sound toxicology that any lead that may be present in a brass alloy on a children’s bike does not pose a danger of lead poisoning to a child. I believe the BPSA’s is the first petition to be filed with supporting toxicology,” Burns said.

Some components in children’s bikes like capped valve stems, contain lead in excess of 600 parts per million.

The BPSA is asking for temporary relief from the rule because the parts in question contain less lead that what’s permitted in the European Union’s RoHS Directive, which restricts the use of hazardous materials in electrical and electronic equipment.

Burns said he is cautiously optimistic that the Commission will OK the petition—on Friday it granted an exclusion for the electronics industry based on the same evidence the BPSA used—but doesn’t expect to have an answer by tomorrow’s deadline.

But, on Friday, the Commission issued its enforcement policy for the lead limits that should provide very helpful guidance to the industry as Tuesday’s deadline approaches, Burns said.

The policy says that the Commission will “accept a manufacturer’s determination that a lead-containing part on their product is inaccessible to a child and not subject to the new lead limits, if it is consistent with the Commission’s proposed guidance or is based on a reasonable reading of the inaccessibility requirement.”

The policy will stand until the Commission rules otherwise.

Also on Friday, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina) introduced a bill that would delay the CPSIA for six months and allow small manufacturers to use testing and certification of lead levels from their component suppliers instead of paying for expensive third party tests. The Commission already pushed back the third party testing deadline by one year, to Feb. 10, 2010.

—Nicole Formosa

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