WASHINGTON — The Consumer Product Safety Commission is preparing a strongly worded statement encouraging manufacturers not to use lead in products accessible to children.
CPSC cannot take action against a product unless it can demonstrate a risk from the lead content. But this policy statement will be broader and ask manufacturers to eliminate lead from many items.
``We may not be able to demonstrate a health hazard, but the staff would like the industry to stop using lead or cadmium in a children's product, even if the exposure is very low,'' said agency spokesman Ken Giles.
CPSC in recent months also has led a crackdown on using lead in PVC miniblinds.
Bob Burnett, the executive director of the Vinyl Institute in Morristown, N.J., said vinyl coating for wire and cable products is the only vinyl product made in North America he is aware of that uses lead as a stabilizer. Manufacturers cannot find a replacement with the same level of conductivity, but the vinyl is hidden beneath a polyolefin shield and the wires are not in reach of children, he said.
However, lead still is used as a stabilizer in other parts of the world, so imported vinyl products still may contain lead, Burnett said. Lead-based pigments also have been used in plastic colorants.
CPSC's move comes three months after the agency rejected a Greenpeace claim that PVC toys contain hazardous levels of lead.
According to a draft of the statement obtained by Plastics News, the commission found examples where manufacturers were able to find alternatives to lead.
``The commission believes that, had the manufacturers of these lead-containing products acted with prudence and foresight before introducing products into commerce, they would not have used lead at all,'' the statement said.