Monday, April 9, 2012

Common Sense Exception

Recently, the CPSC unanimously voted to grant an exception to the 100 ppm lead content limit for certain children’s ride-on pedal tractor component parts made with aluminum alloys. This vote represents a watershed moment in the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s approach to the regulation of lead in the metal substrate of children’s products. It establishes for the first time bipartisan acceptance, based on the expert advice of CPSC’s professional staff, of the principles that (1) lead in children’s products presents a risk of harm only to the extent that children are exposed to the lead; and (2) metal substrate containing 300 ppm of lead that is not likely to be placed in the mouth, ingested, or extensively contacted by children does not present a health risk, because it does not measurably increase blood lead levels.

I can only hope that this milestone decision will invite additional petitions as well as inspire the Commission to independently consider other opportunities to alleviate the unnecessary economic harm caused by its 100 ppm decision. I only wish the rational approach represented by the Commission’s adoption of staff’s analysis of the Ertl petition had prevailed sooner.

If you would like more information on the Ertl Petition, I encourage you to read my statement on the vote or to email me with your questions.

VGB Relief

As many of you know, last September the CPSC voted to reinterpret the phrase “unblockable drain” under the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act (VGB Act) to no longer permit the use of unblockable drain covers to protect against entrapment in public pools using single drain systems. As I wrote several months ago, I believe that the decision by the majority of Commissioners was both ill-advised and unnecessary. To date, there have been no entrapment incidents in pools using drain covers compliant with the original interpretation of an unblockable drain. I remain firm in my belief that unblockable drain covers provide better protection against pool drain entrapment than the most commonly used (but widely criticized) back-up systems.

That said, however, last week a majority of Commissioners voted to provide some relief by extending until May 23, 2013, the time within which pool owners that installed unblockable drains in response to the prior interpretation are required to comply with the new interpretation. I appreciate that a majority of Commissioners were willing to invite comment from the public on the impact of the reinterpretation, and that a majority heard and responded to the calls for relief from communities and individuals across the nation.

Going forward, I am hopeful that by continuing to listen to those impacted by the Commission’s VGB Act regulations, the Commission will promote pool safety in a more effective, rational and efficient manner and revert back to the original interpretation which was both safer and more cost effective.