No More Rhinestone Cowboys and Cowgirls?

Few paid much attention when Congress passed, and President Bush signed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act in 2008. Indeed, it's almost certain that few who supported the law had much understanding of its likely consequences.

One person who's paid substantial attention to the CPSIA, and the havoc it's created for many industries is Overlawyered's Walter Olson. In regular posts he has noted how the law's absolutist requirements effectively bans the sale of all sorts of products even where there is no health risk. Among those particularly hard hit are sellers of second-hand clothing, furniture, and books.

The CPSIA's latest victims are rhinestones and crystals used in children's clothing. Crytals and glass beads are subject to the law because they contain trace amounts of lead, and lead can do nasty things to children if ingested and absorbed into the bloodstream. Although lead in children's projects can be a very serious concern -- as with lead paint -- it does not appear there is any evidence that tiny amounts of lead in rhinestones and crystals poses any risk, even if ingested. No matter. As reported here, the Consumer Product Safety Commission refused to grant an exemption for these items because, as several commissioners noted, the law provides no basis for such an exemption. As a conseuqence, children's apparel makers will no longer be able to use rhinestones for children under age 12, and (as I understand the law) second-hand clothing stores will not be able to sell children's clothing with rhinestones either. Overlawyered has more here.

In a statement accompanying the decision, Commissioner Nancy Nord noted that it would make sense to apply a de minimis standard in enforcing the CPSIA. One of the law's sponsors has even urged that approach. But the actual law itself is not so flexible. And so it goes.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. The End of Vintage Kids' Books?
  2. No More Rhinestone Cowboys and Cowgirls?