U.S. Lawmakers Get the Lead Out

Allison Loudermilk

Like many of my fellow obsessive-compulsive types, I routinely rifle through drawers and closets for unwelcome hangers-on. Once the offending garments have been found, it's off to the Salvation Army -- where it's hard not to do a little browsing. However, the selection at your local thrift store just got a whole lot slimmer, thanks to a new U.S. lead law that went into effect in February.

Called the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, the federal law aims to limit the amount of lead and other harmful chemicals, like phthalates, in products geared at children under 12. But the law has been generated an angry uproar and landed lead in the headlines yet again.

You don't need me to tell you that the U.S. economy is in the toilet. The Dow just dipped below 7,000 today for the first time in more than 10 years, and the global economy isn't far behind. Families struggling to clothe their kids or buy them a toy rely heavily on thrift stores, consignment stores and the like.

Not surprisingly, some resale shops aren't willing to risk their merchandise not meeting the new U.S. requirements. Goodwill just yanked its children merchandise from nine stores in Massachusetts, according to Jenn Abelson of the Boston Globe. Walter Olson, the guy behind the Overlawyered blog, has tracked the issue extensively here.

I'm not sure what the right answer is. No parent, including me, wants his or her kid being poisoned by lead, as this video discusses. On the other hand, a strong case can be made for not sending serviceable, nontoxic kids items directly to the dump, as will no doubt happen under the new legislation.

If you're interested in learning more about the act, you can find a guide to it here. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posts its lead FAQs here. And you can always read more about element No. 82 at HowStuffWorks, too: How Lead Works What's with China and lead poisoning? 10 Dangerous Everyday Things Found in Your Home