Friday, January 08, 2010

Two recent book recalls by the CPSC

The CPSC has issued a recall for a children's book due to lead. The book is a soft book made of fabric. One page of the book contains what appears to be a circle of vinyl, though the recall notice calls it "plastic".

Vinyl is known to have lead, but the lead is not normally accessible unless the vinyl cracks or breaks down. Perhaps the dot IS plastic and it IS painted with lead paint. This is one failing from the CPSC recall notices. There is so little information given. How much lead does that dot truly contain? What is the exact material? There are many, many "touch and feel" books in the public. I expect to see more of these types of books recalled because they don't meet the current standard (rather than a true safety problem).

This book was available from May 2004 to Oct 2009. It is possible the book met the standards that existed prior to CPSIA passage but do not now. Does it mean the book is now unsafe even though it was considered safe previously? IMO, the book doesn't pose a huge danger even though the recall makes it appear so. The only thing that would change that stance is if the CPSC or the manufacturer release more information.

** Edited to add info from a tweet by Scott Wolfson, PR person for the CPSC. According to Scott Wolfson, USPIRG turned this book into the CPSC. This makes me even more suspicious because this book was clearly manufactured and sold pre-CPSIA. To what standard was this book determined to be dangerous? Is the lead standard now being applied retroactively? Did the CPSC gives this product the same scrutiny as Zhu Zhu pets, another product turned in by a self-appointed safety group? Without more information it is impossible to know. Instead we get more hysteria.

Wiring book recall

I find this recall rather strange. If it is found that a book contains erroneous information, the publisher normally sends out an errata sheet. But in this case the CPSC issues recalls for wiring books that go back quite a few years (We're talking as long ago as 1975). There are over 900,000 of these books supposedly in the public. I don't see how they could ever get them all back. Some of these books exist in libraries. Some on personal shelves. Wouldn't it be better to issue the errata's so we can all learn. Instead the CPSC just says that some of the diagrams are wrong and pose a danger. Which ones? So frustrating.

I see no benefit to trashing all these books. There are all kinds of errors in home improvement books. Maybe we should pull all of them because people are just too stupid to know better (sarcasm).


Jennifer Taggart, TheSmartMama said...

While I heartily agree that the CPSIA has problems, I did want to correct the statement that lead only comes out of vinyl when it cracks or breaks down. The impression that is left with that statement is misleading. Lead added to vinyl to stabilize it or color it does not like being in the plastic matrix. It tends to come out of the matrix and migrate to the surface where it can be picked up by hands and ultimately transferred to the mouth. Lead coming out of vinyl is accelerated by exposure to heat and friction, but the vinyl does not need to crack to result in an exposure to lead. Now, I can agree with you that the amount of lead may be small and may or may not be a concern.

Esther said...

Additional statement from the CPSC regarding the dangers of Vinyl bibs.

Jennifer Taggart, TheSmartMama said...

The issue with the bibs was that the CPSC was concerned about swallowed vinyl, having determined that the lead content was not high enough to be of concern from mouthing but could be of concern if the vinyl is swallowed. Unfortunately, there isn't much information on the various lead content of bibs tested by the CPSC for that particular announcement.

But, that announcement should not be construed to indicate that lead can only come out of vinyl if the vinyl is cracked or broken down. To the contrary, lead is available at the surface of vinyl objects - this has been verified by wipe tests, as opposed to XRF analysis for total lead. And, of course, the CPSC itself recalled lead containing vinyl mini blinds because of the lead dust generated. Here's the press release: