The Consumer Product Safety Information Act (CPSIA) is a terrible law that is costing American businesses billions of dollars and eliminating thousands of jobs – all in the name of protecting children from lead poisoning.  The law illustrates perfectly the problem with giving government too much power over our lives.  CPSIA over-regulates something that in reality is not a problem.  CPSIA’s purpose is to protect children from lead poisoning.

A recent study of 899 Consumer Product Safety Commission product recalls over an 11 year period found that only one child in that period died from lead poisoning attributable to the recalled products.  Why is the government regulating something that is statistically insignificant?  The answer is because that is what government does.  Government decides what is important and needs regulation and the facts be damned.  Government knows best and government will fix it for us.

Here are some of the findings of the study of CPSC recalls over 11 years:

  • Recalls: 899
  • Products Recalled: 3,128
  • Units Recalled: 308,697,297
  • Injuries to Kids from Recalled Products: 2,381
  • Deaths from Recalled Products: 35

The study also determined the cause of injuries and deaths:

  • Brake Failure 0, 0
  • Burns 74, 0
  • Cadmium 0, 0
  • Choking 150, 3
  • Collision 2, 0
  • Falling/entrapment 1803, 17
  • Fire hazard 4, 0
  • Illness 0, 0
  • Impalement 0, 0
  • Laceration 284, 0
  • Lead 3, 1
    [The only death from lead in 11 years]
  • Lead-in-paint 1, 0 [That’s right, ONE INJURY in 11 years, no deaths.]
  • Magnets 3, 0
  • Strangulation 26, 7
  • Suffocation 29, 7

It is a fact of life that children will be injured and killed in accidents while growing up.  It is not possible to protect all children from injuries and death.  What is the point in spending billings of dollars to “protect” so few children from injury and death?  Why doesn’t the government allocate our precious financial resources based in importance, i.e., preventing the most common causes of injuries and deaths rather than to obscure and numerically small causes?

The authors of SuperFreakonomics explain how media and people get caught up with terror as an isolated event without recognizing how rare the event actually is.  The book tells about a  2001 Time magazine cover story on shark attacks, a story the media loves to tell over and over.  Four people on the planet earth  with 6 billion people died from shark attacks in 2001.  Over the ten year period 1995 to 2005, an average of 6 people a year died from shark attacks worldwide.  Every year over 200 people are killed by elephants, but the media doesn’t write scare stories about elephant attacks.  Why sharks, but not elephants?

The media writes about shark attacks because it has shark attacks on the brain and statistical facts about the number of deaths only gets in the way of the story.  It’s the same with government.  It’s obsessed with lead poisoning and the facts be damned.  The CPSIA is the law that requires that all children’s products contain lower levels of lead than found in many common every day products.  The Consumer Product Safety Commission’s job is to enforce the law regardless of cost to the country or the consequences of a bad law.

According to the Center for Disease Control, in 2006, lead poisoning was not one of the ten leading causes of death in children under 10.  The leading causes of deaths of children under 10 were traffic accidents, suffocation, drowning and fire/burns.  Why is the government wasting money and effort on lead in children’s toys instead of trying to reduce the leading causes of children’s deaths and injuries?

See “CPSIA – Publishers HOWL Over Inadequate Waxman Amendment.” which discusses the stupidy of the CPSIA’s ban on lead in children’s books that has lead to the destruction of hundreds of thousands of harmless books because people cannot afford to pay the cost of testing the books for lead content.