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New Vermont Lead In Consumer Products Law Goes Into Effect

CONTACT: Elliot Burg, Assistant Attorney General, (802) 828-2153

July 1, 2008 - Vermont’s new Lead in Consumer Products Law went into effect on July 1, 2008. Designed to phase out most lead from children’s products and from some non-children’s items, as well as to provide warnings to consumers about the dangers of lead, the Law was actively promoted in the Legislature by the Attorney General, together with the Vermont Public Interest Research Group, the Vermont Retail Association, children’s advocacy groups, medical professionals, and a bipartisan coalition of legislators. “Vermont has stepped up to protect our children from potential lead exposure,” stated Attorney General William H. Sorrell.

The new statute recognizes that lead is highly toxic to people, particularly young children; can cause neurological damage such as decreases in I.Q.; and has no safe level in the human body.

The Law sets a limit of 600 parts per million (ppm) of lead in certain products sold in or into Vermont as of October 1, 2008. This limit will drop to 300 ppm on July 1, 2009, and to 100 ppm on January 1, 2010. The limits apply to any component part of a “children’s product” sold on or after July 1, 2008. With some limited exceptions, children’s products are those products that are marketed for use by children under 12, or whose substantial use or handling by children under 12 is reasonably foreseeable, including toys, furniture, jewelry, vitamins and other supplements, personal care products, clothing, food, and food containers and packaging.

Also subject to the caps on lead are:

  • Swallowable items of non-children’s jewelry sold on or after July 1, 2008, unless they are advertised as adult jewelry, not commonly understood to be for use by a child under age 12, and accompanied by a disclosure that they may contain lead at or above the legal limit for lead, if true.

  • Wheel weights on new motor vehicles sold on or after September 1, 2011, or on vehicles that are part of the Vermont state fleet on or after January 1, 2010.

  • Non-residential paints and primers sold on or after January 1, 2011, or used as of January 1, 2012.

In addition, the Law sets special limits on lead in plumbing fixtures and solder for plumbing as of January 1, 2010 (a “weighted average” of 2500 ppm for fixtures and 2000 ppm for solder or flux for plumbing). These are patterned after caps on lead adopted by the State of California as of the same date.

The Law also requires sellers of certain products—if they do or may contain lead in excess of the legal limits—to post warnings and hand out information on the risks of lead exposure:

  • Plumbing fixtures , beginning January 1, 2009, and ending December 31, 2009. (There is no outer time limit with respect to leaded solder.)

  • Nonresidential paints and primers , beginning January 1, 2009, and ending December 31, 2010.

  • Salvage building materials , beginning January 1, 2009. (There is no outer time limit).

These disclosures must state, in plain English, that the products in question do or may contain lead, and that lead is harmful to humans, especially children. They must also be printed in easy-to-read type and displayed near the products in question or near the store check-out or cash register.

Finally, the new Law bars businesses from removing government warning labels relating to lead from consumer products.

For more information on the new Law, log onto the Attorney General’s website, www.atg.state.vt.us..

  Website consulting provided by The National Association of Attorneys General.