Lead Rules Could Force Retailers to Dump Children's Products

January 6, 2009 11:51:04 PM PST
Kids clothes aren't likely to have lead in them, but the Consumer Product Safety Commission says any product for use by children under 12 must be certified as safe, with minimal levels of lead or some other plastic softening substances. If it isn't tested, it can't be sold. That's not good news for Kevin Brown and his family, who shop at the Goodwill store to save money." They sell pretty good clothes and stuff, and most of the time you can find brand new clothes here for a lot cheaper than you would at the stores." Brown says.

But as of February 10th every children's item in this store and others would have to be tested, or tossed. Goodwill store manager Nasser Dahabi isn't sure what he will do. "You know, we don't have clarification on that yet. It will probably be in a week or so." He said.

Independent sellers like Shannon Lemm are also worried. She sells new children's toys on the internet. " Everything I have in my inventory right now, I cannot sell and that's thousands of dollars of inventory."

Shannon buys bargains at regular retailers in the Fresno area, and re-sells them on Amazon. com. She's afraid her online store, Allie's Attic could be put out of business, because she can't afford to get every toy tested.

"You have to send each product to a lab, from our understandings we've heard anywhere from a hundred dollars to three thousand dollars per item." She said.

Big retailers will count on manufacturers getting their products tested, but they could still be forced to dump unsold inventory that hasn't been tested and labeled. Under the law, anything unlabeled is considered hazardous waste. The law is designed to protect children, but critics say it's way too broad, will cost consumers a lot more, and put many out of business.

Thrift stores are banding together to ask congress to give them a break.

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