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New CPSC law could cripple clothing stores

Lawton_A new law taking effect in February could cripple or shut down some clothing stores.  The law states that any product sold for ages 12 and younger must be tested for lead, and the testing that Congress wants could get very pricey.  The law was passed last year, a time when it seemed as a new recall a day was being issued.  The Consumer Product Safety Commission will be responsible for enforcing the law, and enforcement is where many retailers are hoping there will be wiggle room. 

Experts say that the lead-testing gun could cost between $25-$40,000, and many smaller retailers simply may not be able to afford the pricey piece of equipment.  "It would be terrible because so many people couldn't afford to shop anywhere else," said Salvation Army Customer Marion Pooran. 

Although the law is intended for manufacturers, it was written so broadly that it could affect small retail shops and thrift stores.  Adele Meyer with the National Association of Retailers says the law is set in stone unless Congress makes a change.  "If the act goes into effect unaltered, then there are going to be tons and tons of children's products going into the landfill," she said. 

Meyer says that big manufacturers can afford what they need in order to get the testing done, but smaller shops may have to quit handling such items unless the guidelines are amended.  "The act had good intentions, but there are unintended consequences because it's a broad act - and so far reaching...all children's products.  It's not just toys," she said. 

Meyer says the law was passed in 2008 because there were toys coming in from overseas tainted with lead which prompted many recalls.  The recall bonanza got the attention of Congress, and the new law now is getting the attention of Salvation Army customers like Marian Pooran.  "It would be difficult to shop," she said.  "I don't shop anyplace else for clothing."

7News contacted several local small retailers on Tuesday, but none would go on camera - many had never heard of the law.  There are many loopholes in the law, however, and there is room for exemptions.  The Consumer Product Safety Commission will have the ultimate decision on how strictly to enforce the new law.

On Monday, the commission said that some exemptions might include clothing made of natural materials such as wood, wool, or cotton fibers.

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