Saturday, July 24, 2010

DANGER! The ban on SHARP and lead containing rocks

I am floored!  Absolutely floored at how an agency is permitted (and encouraged) to go beyond it's boundaries into the absurd. 

It started with CPSIA's (Consumer Product Safety Commission) lead ruling on toys made in China...then it spread to all toys, books, clothes, etc, etc, etc.  CPSC Children's products

Don't get me wrong, I don't want little Billy to have lead poisoning!  But, did the government powers that govern this agency ever CHECK TO SEE if this ruling was sound from a scientific standpoint?  Did they determine the amount of lead absorbed by merely playing with a toy painted with lead paint in ppb (parts per billion)?  How about the health threshold for lead poisoning via oral route....just how much chewing does little Billy have to do on a toy before he ACTUALLY has lead in his system.

Did anyone check an MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) concerning the routes that lead enters the body through (and the physical state that the lead must be in) to determine that casual contact with the object  should cause alarm ???

Now the CPSIA wants to ban ROCKS that contain lead and SHARP POINTS in schools.  An educational company or rock/mineral vendor will be unable to provide these to consumers.

So, this means that if you are studying Geology, you are now unable to get your hands upon the very specimens necessary to determine the identity of minerals and rocks.  Rock and mineral identification is the very building blocks of this branch of science and necessary in understanding larger Geologic concepts.  Thanks to the CPSIA you will now be permitted to look at a poster of rocks and minerals.  I'm left wondering, how exactly does one utilize Moh's Hardness scale in identifying 2 dimensional rocks?

While I'm no expert, I do possess a Bachelors of Science degree in Geology.  On many occasions, I handled BARE HANDED such lead-containing specimens as:  aragonite, cerussite, wufenite and one of my favorites, Galena.  Part of the draw for me was the ability to hold each specimen, examine it thoroughly, perform a streak/hardness test and then identify it.  Many hours were spent happily doing so.  Countless more hours were spent in the field, digging, sifting, cleaning, categorizing and identifying.

After graduation, I went on to work in an environmental testing lab where our blood and hair were tested yearly for abnormal levels of heavy metals.  Guess what?  Mine always came back within normal parameters.

And you know what else?  I eventually went on to birth four healthy children that have no health issues what-so-ever.  They also handle my mineral and rock collection.  There's no gnawing of specimens and each session is followed by hand washing.

Unless you are sucking on Galena lozenges or bathing in pools of lead, your chance of over exposure is small.  In reality, you've probably come into casual exposure to lead-containing rocks that occur naturally in the environment.

Which brings up another question.....will the CPSIA now require testing of soil and rock formations to determine if they contain lead?  What will happen to such mountain ranges and areas that are found to contain lead?  Will they be off limits?  Will they be excavated and sent to the dump????

Yes, that's as absurd as this CPSIA's ruling itself!

And just what about all those sharp rocks?

Other links to peruse:
CPSIA Comments and Observations
Students Aren't Allowed to Touch Real Rocks


  1. That's pretty outrageous. What is a "sharp rock"? Would that include rocks we use to understand crystal structures, such as amethyst?

    We should also ban pens and pencils -- those are sharp, too. I think all public school students should be required to only use big, fat crayons for all in-class writing assignments.

  2. Hey fellow crew mate - Jumped over from a twitter from Free Range Kids. :) Great post! The only one I had fear of was the massive amounts of obsidian in Central Oregon. The boys got cut several times breaking it - but never bad, or more than a band aid and a great story to tell. :) Here at Petra School, as the Pebblekeeper - we're um, a little obsessed? about rocks. :) I'd be very saddened if someone told me which ones we could only study by poster. Even if it was a sharp break of obsidian. :)

  3. Thomas - thanks for visiting! I think CPSIA will next recommend Hazmat suits and bubble wrap to all those under the age of 10....

  4. Pebblekeeper - thanks for dropping in! Your concern over obsidian is noted --- I too have fallen victim to this wonderful volcanic glass on more than one occassion. I for one am glad that I was able to handle it instead of merely gazing at it on a poster!!!!

    Enjoy this time of beauty and wonder with your family!!!

  5. oh my......things are getting out of hand! We live in a world that has risk, getting out of bed in the morning is a risk. We cannot legislate everything we do, touch, smell etc. There must be personal responsibility as well!

  6. Glad I got a large supply prior to this craziness. When I teach rocks and minerals to kids, I always let them use obsidian to cut an apple. Uh-oh, guess I better rethink that.
    Fellow Crewmember