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Toxic and/or mislabeled goods still a problem

 
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sfriedberg
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Joined: 06 Aug 2007
Posts: 840
Location: OR Portland

PostPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2012 1:30 am    Post subject: Toxic and/or mislabeled goods still a problem Reply with quote

I'm not sure how long this webpage (U.S. Customs seizes NW-bound costumes)will survive, but it's an Associate Press release augmented with some local news reporting.

AP says about two shipments of Halloween costumes worth about $10K destined for Seattle were seized because the buttons contain 11 times the allowed quantity of lead. The costumes will be destroyed.

Local KOIN 6 TV says in the 1st half of 2012, Customs sent more than 500 incoming textile samples for laboratory testing and over half of them were "discrepant", which could be illegal quantities of toxic or prohibited materials (dyes, paints, etc), or basic fiber mislabeling, and so on. (It's not clear from the article if the testing included trims such as buttons, or was limited to fabric.) In fiscal 2011, Customs found over 9,000 incoming shipments worth about $24M to be lead-contaminated. (That number does not include other discrepancies, like mislabeling, toxic dyes, etc.)

The "over half" is not representative of all incoming textile shipments, just of the shipments that Customs decided to lab test. Obviously, their criteria for choosing a shipment to test are pretty conservative in the sense that a significant percentage of tested goods fail the tests. (If I read the Customs stats correctly, about 12% of everything they examine is "discrepant", and about 10-20% of what they examine is sent for lab testing. But I'm not confident I understand the labels in their spreadsheet.) Customs are probably familiar with lots of indicators for "this is likely to be non-compliant crap from a dodgy source".

What I'd like to know is what the failure rate would be for a representative sampling of all incoming textile shipments, not just the ones selected for closer examination. Would that be 0.05%, 0.5%, 5%, or something higher? In other words, are Customs criteria for choosing a shipment to test too conservative?
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Esther
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Joined: 17 Mar 2006
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Location: ID Spudville

PostPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2012 10:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The buttons appear to be painted metal.
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