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Lead in consumer products

Act 193 of 2008, 9 V.S.A. §§ 2470e-2470l, was enacted to phase out most lead from children’s and some non-children’s products, and to warn consumers about the dangers of lead. Lead is highly toxic, particularly to young children, and it can cause neurological damage such as decreases in I.Q.

Lead in Children’s Products

Act 193’s quantitative limits on lead in children’s products are the same as the limits imposed later in 2008 by the federal Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA) and are not preempted by federal law. Act 193 also incorporates the federal standards into state law by reference.

The current state (and federal) limit on lead in children’s products—products that are designed for use by children age twelve and under—is 0.03 percent, or 300 parts per million (ppm), a level that by federal law is likely to drop to 100 ppm on August 14, 2011.

Lead in non-Children’s Products

Act 193 also addresses the issue of lead in five types of non-children’s products, either through quantitative limits or through mandated disclosures:

  1. Adult jewelry that is small enough to be swallowed and contains more than the state/federal limit on lead must be (a) prominently advertised as adult jewelry, and (b) accompanied by a prescribed point-of-sale disclosure about lead.

  2. Wheel weights on new motor vehicles sold on or after September 1, 2011, or on state fleet vehicles on or after January 1, 2010, may not contain more than the state/federal limit on lead.

  3. Plumbing supplies may not be sold or installed if they contain more than a “weighted average” of 0.25 percent for fixtures and 0.20 percent for solder or flux for plumbing. Plumbing fixtures include pipes, fittings and fixtures used to convey or dispense water for human consumption. 9 V.S.A. § 2470(h)(2)(D)(i).

a. Jan. 2014 Federal standards: As of January 4, 2014, the federal Safe Drinking Water Act exempts certain plumbing parts of 2” in diameter or larger from the prohibition on lead. However, the law allows states to have higher standards. Therefore, Vermont’s lead standard for plumbing fixtures described above continues to apply, regardless of the size of the part, if the part is used to convey or dispense water for human consumption.
  1. Non-residential paints and primers sold on or after January 1, 2011, or used on or after January 1, 2012, may not contain more than the state/federal limit on lead. Until 2012, if these products exceed that limit, they may not be sold in Vermont unless there are disclosures posted and handouts made available on the risks of lead exposure.

  2. Salvage building materials that were manufactured prior to 1978 may not be sold without the required posted disclosures and handouts on the risks of lead exposure.

Lead in Housing

Lead in paint and dust from lead paint are the major sources of lead exposure for Vermont children. Approximately 66% of Vermont homes and 80% of Vermont rental units were built before 1978 when lead was banned in residential paint. Anyone living in or working on these buildings is at greater risk for exposure to lead – especially when unsafe work practices are used. Vermont’s lead in housing law was most recently amended effective July 1, 2008. View a summary of those amendments or the law.

For more information on lead in housing, visit the Attorney General’s Office Lead in Housing webpage.

Enforcement

Act 193 is enforceable under the Consumer Fraud Act, by both the Attorney General and individual consumers. Manufacturers, importers, wholesalers and retailers are all liable for their own sales of products in or into Vermont that violate the applicable standards, and for any related disclosures or handouts that may be required.

The Attorney General’s Office has settled cases with manufacturers and distributors of consumer products when it has found high levels of lead in items sold in Vermont.

In addition to sanctions ranging from $100,000 to $450,000, these settlements have also included the imposition of stringent standards for toy and jewelry manufacturers, testing and reporting requirements, and the designation of funds for Vermont children’s health programs.

Lead Enforcement Actions and Settlements brought by the Attorney General’s Office (includes Lead in Housing cases)

Advice for Parents

Because of the risk of lead poisoning, you should keep small items of metal jewelry away from young children, so they don’t put the products in their mouth. Lead causes neurological disorders, including drops in IQ, and accumulates in the body from any source.

There is no safe level of lead in the body.

Related Links

Attorney General’s Office Guide to the lead in consumer products law for businesses
Attorney General’s Office Supplemental guide on lead in plumbing supplies
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers about Vermont’s lead in plumbing supplies law (“Act 193”)
Vermont Department of Health’s Lead website

  Website consulting provided by The National Association of Attorneys General.