Forget Guns and Ammo, It’s Time to Hoard Ink Pens (Updated)
By Bob McCarty at BobMcCarty.com
When it became clear that Barack Obama would be elected president of the United States, Americans began to buy guns and ammunition at a record pace. With the Consumer Products Safety Commission expected to make an important decision tomorrow about the future of the lowly ink pen, Americans might want to consider hoarding ink pens.
The CPSC is expected to decide whether or not 95 percent of all ink pens sold for use in schools or by children under the age of 12 should be yanked from store shelves because their lead content exceeds levels allowed by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008.
Not content to sit at their desks doodling, leaders of the Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association forwarded a petition to the CPSC three months ago. Excerpts from the petition appear below:
(From Page 1) We are writing to you about a very serious compliance problem involving lead in ball point pens and roller ball pens. Based upon our analysis, all pen points used in these products, when marketed as children’s products as defined by Section 235(a) of the CPSIA, will be violative of Section 101(a)(2) of the CPSIA when the total lead provision goes into effect on February 10, 2009. And there is no alternative metal that can be used for pen points that does not contain some violative quantity of lead. Accordingly, WIMA, on behalf of its members, and any other importers, manufacturers or distributors similarly impacted, filed this Section 101 Request for Lead Content Exclusion for Pen Point Components.
(From Page 2-3) According to our members, after consultation with the manufacturers of pen point components, there is no ready substitute for these brass, stainless steel or silver nickel components. WIMA first became aware of this problem in October and was hopeful, initially, that some substitute material could be utilized. However, according to our supplier members, there is no known substitute for the brass, stainless steel or silver nickel pen point components and it will likely take two or more years to develop a substitute (if one is available). In the interim, all ball point pens sold in the U.S., which meet the definition of children’s product under the CPSIA, will be in violation of the total lead standard on February 10, 2009. Retractable and stick ball point pens account for approximately 85% of all pens sold in this country, and for approximately 95% of pens sold for use in schools, or by children under the age of 12. Our rough estimate is that this problem impacts four to five billion ball point pens. Roller ball pens are also often sold to children 12 and younger. Our rough estimate is that this problem impacts another one billion roller ball pens.
Because the law forbids the CPSC from granting an exclusion if there is a possibility of any lead being absorbed into the human body, I can only assume that the ruling will go against the ink pen manufacturers. In other words, “It’s time to hoard ink pens!"
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UPDATE 6/09/09: CPSC Ruling on Lead in Ink Pens ‘Clear as Mud’