If you're planning a garage sale this summer, are you aware that the government wants you to research the products that you sell to make sure they don't contain recently banned chemicals like certain phthalates? Anjali Athavaley tackled the topic for The Wall Street Journal today, in a story headlined "Seller, Beware: the New Yard-Sale Rules." The story notes that Washington made it illegal last year to sell recalled products, including at yard sales and flea markets. "The Consumer Product Safety Commission, which is charged with enforcing the law, is urging consumers who buy and sell products at garage sales to research the goods and make sure they're are safe," the story notes. But don't expect the FBI to bust your garage sale. "We're an agency that has a certain number of employees," CPSC spokesman Scott Wolfson told the WSJ. Wolfson added that "it doesn't take much work to know that a product was recalled," and said the agency is offering consumers guidelines for how to avoid reselling products that have been recalled. The regulations are relevant to plastics because last year's law banned certain phthalates. But, obviously consumers aren't going to be able to tell if an old toy contains di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, dibutyl phthalate or butyl benzyl phthalate. Most people can't even tell (or even care...) if a product is made of vinyl, polyurethane, silicone or rubber. And it's unrealistic to expect consumers to go online and try to figure out if every item they plan to sell at a garage sale is "legal." I think the best that CPSC can hope for is to convince some people to avoid buying and selling old toys at garage sales. Otherwise, they'll be headed toward a life of crime, destined to tear the tags off their mattresses and cross the street against the light.
Are the feds going to raid your garage sale?
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