CPSC’s So Called Exemption for Resellers, Thrift & Consigment Stores

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) released its highly anticipated guidelines for resellers of children’s products, thrift stores and consignment stores on January 8, 2009 under the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA).  Many had hoped for a complete exemption from the CPSIA’s retroactive lead ban, although the law itself doesn’t really allow that.

And many are now claiming that the guidelines are an exemption for resellers, thrifts and consignment stores.  But that is far from the case.  All the guidelines do is restate the law. The guidelines repeat that the lead limit of 600 ppm applies to all children’s products on February 10, 2009, regardless of when manufactured. The guidelines state that:

Under the new law, children’s products with more than 600 ppm total lead cannot lawfully be sold in the United States on or after February 10, 2009, even if they were manufactured before that date. The total lead limit drops to 300 ppm on August 14, 2009.

The guidelines recognize that a business does not have to test those children’s products manufactured before February 10, 2009 to determine whether the items comply.  But if the items don’t comply, you can’t sell them and face penalties if you do.  The guidelines state:

The new safety law does not require resellers to test children’s products in inventory for compliance with the lead limit before they are sold. However, resellers cannot sell children’s products that exceed the lead limit and therefore should avoid products that are likely to have lead content, unless they have testing or other information to indicate the products being sold have less than the new limit. Those resellers that do sell products in violation of the new limits could face civil and/or criminal penalties.

That really doesn’t get you much.  How do you know?  The guidelines say watch out for traditional items that have been recalled or have lead in paint, but what about the other items?  Most thrift stores don’t have a clue.

If you are curious about what items could contain lead, my experiences with XRF testing suggest that the following children’s products can exceed 600 ppm lead: 

  • vinyl items when stabilized with lead & you can’t tell by looking at the item what was used to stabilize the item, unless the vinyl is clear – clear vinyl doesn’t have lead.  So, vinyl can be found in faux leather, shoes, purses, toys such as dolls and dinosaurs, and similar items.  Also look for vinyl wrapped wires or metal pieces in toys, such as those bead chasers that run on a vinyl wrapped metal piece.

  • pearl like or pealized buttons on clothing.

  • brass buckles on belts and similar items.

  • crystal adornments or embellishments.

  • paint on inexpensive toys, particularly camoflage paint for some reason.

  • some snaps or similar metal closures.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to the RSS feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader.