Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Children's Library Books and Lead??

The Group, Consumer Product Safety Commission wants children’s books pulled from library shelves due to possible lead in the text of the books printed prior to 1986. Most libraries are ignoring the request and refusing to comply. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, say any danger from lead in children’s books is slight, yet this Consumer Commission wants the books pulled from library shelves before testing is even done.

Emily Sheketoff, executive director of the American Library Association’s Washington office stated, “We’re talking about tens of millions of copies of children’s books that are perfectly safe. I wish a reasonable, rational person would just say, ‘This is stupid. What are we doing?”’

I agree, this is stupid. The CPSC is interpreting the federal law that bans lead beyond minute levels in products intended for children 12 and under. The law became effective in February, and was passed after a number of toy recalls. The CPSC delayed until next year the lead testing required as part of this new law.

Jay Dempsey, a health communications specialist at the CDC, said lead-based ink in children’s books poses little danger. “If that child were to actually start mouthing the book — as some children put everything in their mouths — that’s where the concern would be,” Dempsey said. “But on a scale of one to 10, this is like a 0.5 level of concern.”

A website was set up by the publishing and printing industries last December to post the results of studies measuring the lead in books. Those results show lead levels were often undetectable and consistently below not only the new federal threshold, but the more stringent limit that goes into effect in 2011.

Those findings were cited in a letter from the Association of American Publishers to the CPSC. The American Library Association said it has no estimate of how many children’s books printed before 1986 are in circulation. But typically, libraries don’t have many, because youngsters are hard on books, librarians said.

Rhoda Goldberg, director of the Harris County Public Library system in Houston, said “Frankly, most of our books have been well-used and well-appreciated. They don’t last 24 years.”

Also, the lead is contained only in the type, not in the illustrations, according to Allan Adler, vice president for legal and governmental affairs for the Association of American Publishers.

Nathan Brown, a lawyer for the library association, said libraries should not even be subject to the law. He argued that Congress never wanted to regulate books and that libraries do not sell books and thus are not subject to the consumer products law.

I would have to wonder about all those books we kept from our childhood, or the books we still have that belonged to our children, and the millions accumulated by book collectors. The Little Golden Books, for instance. The dust mites may get to us but I would doubt the lead in the old ink does any harm and most of us don’t eat books, even children.

Seems too often mountains are made of molehills.



Frankie Anon said...

I agree, this is ridiculous! Thanks for informing me about something I hadn't heard about before. I'll have to remember not to lick the pages of all those books I saved from my own childhood. (How did we ever survive?)

P.S. I loved The Little Engine that Could!

Ricky Kendall said...

Good grief. Why don't they just put everyone into a protective bubble until they reach 18. How on earth are we supposed to build resistance to anything if we are shielded from everything.

If we don't exercise our immune systems, they will become unnecessary. We could all die out like the aliens in War of the Worlds at the slightest onset of some minor disease. I'm sure there is some lead in dirt and we live on it.