If CPSIA is premised on anything, it’s the idea that before makers of goods place items on the market, they should have to shoulder the burden of proving that they’re safe, even if it seems very, very unlikely on the face of it (as with books, cotton bibs, ballpoint pens, etc.) that they’re doing any significant harm. Is this perhaps an early application of the much-debated “precautionary principle“, which proposes that gaps in scientific knowledge be resolved against those who want to introduce anything new or potentially dangerous? Deputy Headmistress wonders. She also links to Rick Woldenberg who continues his revisionist looks at the Great Toy Scare of 2006-7, noting that in one much-publicized recall of 436,000 toys by Mattel, the trigger for the recall was that “TWO CANS OF PAINT slipped through its safety systems, and were spread ratably over 436,000 units. Hmmm – how dangerous do you think one Sarge car would be with 1/218,000th of a can of paint on it? This event was one of the sparks that triggered the mania leading to the CPSIA – the same mania that now sweeps up libraries.”
Brian Micklethwait, a while back, had a further relevant thought about whether the Precautionary Principle has itself been proven safe.
More: An interesting contribution from Dan Marshall at Change.org.
Public domain graphic: Grandma’s Graphics, Ruth Mary Hallock.