Rule for Lead Law Exclusions Published

A federal rule published Wednesday tells manufactures how they can apply for an exemption to the new lead laws regarding children’s products. But according to the MIC, the rule’s standards are so high that it’s doubtful any product will qualify.

The exclusion process applies only to products that exceed the limit on lead. Children’s products that comply with the limit can still be sold. Bell Powersports, for example, recently announced that its youth helmets are legal.

Also, the limit on lead levels applies only to components accessible to children. The amount of lead in internal engine parts, for example, is not restricted.

Theoretically, the federal agency charged with enforcing the lead law, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, could grant exclusions to products that exceed the lead limit, are accessible, but could not result in the absorption of “any” lead into the body.

But according to the MIC, the word “any” in the law probably makes it impossible for any manufacturer to obtain an exception for a children’s product containing an excessively lead-laden component that could be touched. The hand-to-mouth exposure, however small, is relevant because of the word.

Confused? So is the MIC, which contends that the rule renders meaningless the exclusions provided for by Congress in the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), the legislation containing the lead limits.

According to an MIC bulletin, the CPSC has stated that the exclusion is not rendered meaningless because conceivably some product could be over the lead limit but be designed in a way to avoid hand-to-mouth exposure. “However, the CPSC does not provide guidance on how an accessible part may be designed as to not lead to some type of exposure,” the bulletin says.

In response to the unworkable exclusion process, MIC lobbyists are now concentrating on the difficult task of getting a bill passed through Congress.

The CPSIA became law last August. It applies to products intended for children 12 and under, including ATVs, dirtbikes, parts, garments and accessories. The ban on the sale of these products went into effect Feb. 10, 2009. In February, the CPSC said it was OK to sell machines designed for 12- to 15-year-old riders, units that previously carried the Y12 category.