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« Understanding the New UCI Regs: Part 1 | Main | Book Review: Ignore Everybody »

Consumer protection gone crazy

A strange state of affairs has arisen because of the passing of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. (CPSIA) The act limits the amount of lead content in products intended for use by children under 12 years old.

This act has now left manufacturers of children’s bicycles facing a huge problem, because certain parts of kids bicycles do not comply with the less than 300 parts lead per million that the new law requires.

Where is the lead content in a bicycle you may ask? It had me puzzled. It is in the brass used in the tire’s Schrader valve. Apparently the new regulations will also limit the industry's use of recycled steel and aluminum; both of which may or may not at some time or other be contaminated with lead.

The Bicycle Product Suppliers Association(BPSA) an organization that looks after the interests of bicycle manufacturers, applied for exemption from this requirement with the Consumer Product Safety Council. (CPSA) The CPSA is responsible for enforcing this legislation.

Exemption was denied, but a temporary two year stay on enforcement was granted, to give the bicycle industry time to find an answer to this problem. Not a real problem, just one of bureaucratic making. The reasons given for denial by the CPSC was, and I quote:

We are compelled to deny the petition because the language of the statute does not give us the flexibility to do otherwise, 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.

The risk assessment methods traditionally used by the Commission in evaluating exposure to lead are no longer available to us under the CPSIA.

The BPSA was able to put forward scientific proof that a child riding a bicycle would be exposed to less lead than drinking regular tap water, or eating certain perfectly legal candy. No matter, the law it appears is inflexible, and it with take another Act of Congress to reverse it.

Also emphasized by the BPSA, that bike resellers such as Thrift Stores can’t comply with the new law because all used bikes have brass components. Dream Bikes, a Trek-sponsored nonprofit in Madison, faces the same problem.

It takes bikes away from the least privileged, and complicates the situation where a child outgrows a bike and the bike is sold or donated.

In the mean time the Bicycle Product Suppliers Association is facing extreme financial hardship. They have already spent their entire yearly budget of $100,000 in legal fees fighting not only this, but the ongoing New Jersey Quick Release ban.

Another prime example of our government in trying to protect us from ourselves, and in doing so creating more problems than they solve. And those of us from previous generations are left to wonder how we even made it thus far without all this protection

More reading on the subject in The Bicycle Retailer and Industry News. Also in these articles Overlawyered, and Bikes and Kids


Reader Comments (8)

The world, indeed, has gone crazy. I grew up drinking water from lead pipes and playing with mercury as a kid and I'm still alive and kicking at 68. The CPSA needs to fire a lot of their amateur scientists and lawyers and hire some engineers.

June 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJohn B

The BPSA filed an exclusion petition January 28, which supplied the CPSA with sound toxicology indicating a child riding a bicycle with recycled materials would ingest less lead than when he or she drinks water from a tap or eats hard candy.
The key word here is to ingest. Lead is only harmful to the body when it is absorbed into the blood stream by essentially eating it! Last time my tire needed inflating I used a pump. If Johnny is trying to blow up his Schrader valve with his mouth or the kid just likes to chew on valve stems the parent has more serious issues to worry about.
btw dave I Love your blog keep up the great work.

June 15, 2009 | Unregistered Commentersct

Oh my.

For years it's been my habit to blow air into the valve to get the innertube to take shape, prior to mounting a tire. Perhaps I need to go see a toxicologist.

Oy vey.

June 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterErik Ewald

The city of Los Angeles is currently considering regulating the currently non-existent pedicab business. Among the city's rules for keeping a license: a pedicab must carry helmets to fit every size head (children are exempted from having to wear helmets).

Lest they find themselves unemployed for not earning their pay, bureaucrats must create ever-more levels of bureaucracy. While the price of freedom may be eternal vigilance, this year both freedom and vigilance are being taxed at 11.5%.

June 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDave Wyman

This is so ridiculous, I'm not sure I can even verbalize my thoughts right now. I think I'll pass and whack my head a few times with a lead pipe to see if I can squeeze those thoughts out of my ears. Big Brother needs a holding company in a bad way.

June 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMaltese Falcon

Thanks for spreading the word about this terrible law! It goes way beyond bikes and toys and is affecting apparel, jewelry, and even ballpoint pens. We are soon to see a 10% increase in the cost of toys, and all other children's goods will also go up in price or become harder to find. People are still scratching their heads trying to figure out how to permanently imprint the name and location of the manufacturer on children's earrings and on bath soap.

Please visit What Is The CPSIA for answers to frequently asked questions about CPSIA.

June 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSarah Natividad

It's all just plain loopy. Using that reasoning - kids shouldn't be allowed to drive in cars or sit on the school bus due to the lead "threat".

The motorcycle industry is also affected by this - kids sized bikes can't be sold - at least for awhile.

Having grown up in New Jersey, the quick release ban attempt doesn't surprise me.....

June 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDan O

Can you please contact me to help put together a list of stores or companies that have gone out of business because of the CPSIA. I am with the Handmade Toy Alliance.

Thanks so much-

September 1, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterjolie fay
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