CPSIA on the rocks

by Walter Olson on September 2, 2009

YankeeMGboy2As noted earlier in this space, many ordinary rocks — you know, the kind you kick with your foot — flunk the exceedingly stringent lead limits in the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. And that’s not all, as Rick Woldenberg relates:

… if foolish educational companies want to sell rocks to schools or for inclusion in educational kits sold in toy stores, they must now test the rocks not only for lead but also for sharp points. Yes, rocks with sharp points need to be restricted under ASTM F963 for children aged eight years old or younger. The CPSC has yet to issue guidance to millions of curious Americans on how to manage this exposure when walking to the park or playing catch with the dog in the backyard. …

Is there a testing standard for rocks in the head? Is the concern lead, sharp points or that irritating rattling noise?

Per the Woldenberg entry we linked in May, “Michael Warring of American Educational Products reports that a school opted to stop using AmEP’s rocks to teach Earth Science and will instead rely on a POSTER.”

PUBLIC DOMAIN IMAGE from Benjamin Cobb, Yankee Mother Goose (Ella Brison, illustrator), courtesy ChildrensLibrary.org.

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CPSIA chronicles, September 20
09.21.09 at 10:40 am

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1 Steve 09.02.09 at 2:39 am

So, should we allow the politicians who voted for this asinine legislation near children since we would first have to have the rocks in their heads checked to make sure they’re safe?

2 Frank 09.02.09 at 10:30 am

While I didn’t read anything about rocks in an overview of this regulatory masterpiece I did note among items not covered by it:
“Crayons, paints, chalks, and other similar art materials in
which the material itself or the finished item is not
primarily of play value”

As an uncle, not a parent, I thought crayons, paints and chalks for children were all “primarily of play value”.

3 Michael 09.02.09 at 5:22 pm

Frank,
You may find this link helpful on rocks and other materials that may or may not need to be tested for lead. The company I work for produces rock collections and rock identification kits and you can be assured that it is not technically possible to test rocks for lead with any degree of certainty, as the composition of ANY SIZED rock can vary one molecule in any direction. I am hoping that the CPSC will tell the world how to go about legally disposing of any rock that is found to contain too much lead (however you accomplish that) or one of the 11 elements referenced in the linked CPSC document, as any object that fails to meet the requirements is immediately a hazardous substance. Unaltered rock coming from the ground – can we put it in landfill (back in the ground) if it is “dangerous”? Anyone?
http://www.cpsc.gov/library/foia/foia09/brief/leadfinalrule.pdf

4 John 09.02.09 at 10:18 pm

Michael,
Since each rock is a unique “batch” (in CPSIA World), clearly every single rock in the rock kit needs to be individually tested to ASTM F963-08 and HR4040 (estimate $600/rock). On the bright side, you may (or may not) have a pass on individually labeling each rock with separate batch numbers.

Not sure about the landfill thing.

5 Dave Lincoln 09.02.09 at 11:04 pm

Ha, you bring up a good one, John…. next it will be no rocks in the landfill (for the children). What happens to the rock that got excavated to make the landfill? Let me see, I guess you could dig a special hazmat landfill to put the rocks obtained digging the last landfill, but what about that 2nd landfill?

Wait, lets ship it all to China in containers – they’re just piling up at the west coast docks, due to the fact that Americans don’t make squat anymore due to regulation. Plus, the shipping containers probably have got a bit of lead in the steel alloys. Who knows, they were made in China like everything else.

I hope living like an Indian will be OK. It seemed fun in kindergarden, but apparently you could starve easily and there were a lot of wars. I don’t like the sound of that.

6 Jack Wilson 09.03.09 at 2:24 pm

Has anyone ever challenged the constitutionality of regulatory agencies such as the CPSC? Or the constitutionality of specific decrees like this nightmarish CPSIA? I imagine it has happened and failed…

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