9 - 2009

Thrift stores won’t be affected by lead-testing law

Good news for those, like me, who have been alarmed by news about new lead-testing requirements from the Consumer Product Safety Commission: As of yesterday, federal regulators have decided thrift-store and consignment operators won’t have to test used children’s clothes for lead.

This is a big relief for people like me who like to buy children’s clothing used — and even more so for those who must do so, and of course, most of all, for operators of these establishments.

The law requiring testing passed last August and goes into effect on Feb. 10. Still up in the air as to how it will affect them are smaller retailers, craftspersons, and people who sell or distribute books — including libraries.

The law’s purpose is to eliminate lead and phthalates from children’s products. So far, so good. Many thrift and consignment stores already do not sell plastic toys because of concerns about contaminates in the plastic. But re-use stores were worried — and small craftspeople still are — that the onerous testing fees would drive them out of business immediately.

But who has heard of a child sickened or killed by a T-shirt? Logically, clothing should be less risky than toys for children, simply because it is less likely to be chewed or sucked on, and because children wear each garment only sporadically (4-year-old boys in superhero costumes excepted).

Thankfully, regulators seem to be coming to their senses. It’s all well and good — and important — to protect our children. But eliminating the trade in used items, making clothing affordable to everyone, and keeping all those briefly worn garments out of landfills, would be throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Do you have any information or opinions about this issue, or scientific backing to share?

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