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Industry Wins Two-Year Stay on Lead Law

Published May 13, 2009

BETHESDA, MD (BRAIN)—The Consumer Product Safety Commission denied the industry’s petition to exclude children’s bikes from a strict new lead law on Tuesday, but granted a two-year stay of enforcement giving manufactures a bit of breathing room to figure out how to best comply with the rule.

John Nedeau, president of the Bicycle Product Suppliers Association, which filed the petition on behalf of the industry back in January, called Tuesday’s decision a victory.

“My view is it’s a win for the BPSA and the bike industry. When you juxtapose us against all the industries that have been impacted and we had this outcome. Our effort, our strategy was effective," Nedeau said.

That strategy included forming a legislative committee, headed by Trek counsel Bob Burns, and enlisting the help of D.C. regulatory attorney Erika Jones, Bikes Belong’s Tim Blumenthal and that organization’s chief lobbyist to provide scientifically based reasoning for why children’s bikes should be exempt from the law.

“We did not attack the Commission. We recognized that the Commission is simply in place to enforce the law; they didn’t make the law. I think that understanding guided how we approached it and they appreciated our approach,” Nedeau said.

The new lead limit, which is prescribed in the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, restricts the amount of lead in children’s products to 600 parts per million. Some small bike parts like valve stems, spoke nipples and cable ends exceed that limit, but a toxicology report provided by the BPSA shows the amount of lead in those parts doesn’t pose any danger to users.

Acting CPSC chair Nancy Nord said the language of the statute didn’t give the commission the flexibility to approve the petition, “even though our staff does not believe that lead exposure from using bicycles and related products presents a risk that they would recommend the Commission regulate.”

Instead the Commission extended the enforcement deadline to April 30, 2011. The CPSC granted a similar extension to the ATV/youth motorcycle industry in April.

The extra time will give the industry and the CPSC time to find common ground on how best to enforce the lead limits, particularly as the regulatory landscape continues to shift with the new administration, Burns said.

“As the bicycle industry has historically done we will work with the CPSC to ensure that the U.S. children’s bicycle industry is in a position to continue to supply bicycles to the youth market and all market segments after April 30, 2011,” Burns said.

Nedeau said the BPSA would strategize its next step at a boarding meeting at the end of the month. He hopes that bicycle companies on both the mass market and specialty side of the business will support BPSA’s role in representing the industry to the CPSC and CPSC staff during this nearly year-long process.

“I’m hopeful that industry players not members of BPSA would recognize the benefit of the work we’ve done and be more considerate about joining,” he said.

—Nicole Formosa

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