Consumer Product Safety Commission Staff Says Crystal Rhinestones Safe But Exemption Authority Limited

Date: Jul 13, 2009

Safe products will disappear if relief not granted.

WASHINGTON, D.C – On Friday, July 10, the staff of the Consumer Product Safety Commission presented their analysis of a request submitted by the Fashion Jewelry Trade Association and other trade groups to exempt glass and crystal rhinestones from an outright ban. Although agreeing with the associations that the products are not hazardous, the staff says the language of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA) restricts their ability to recommend an exemption.

The recommendation is subject to approval this week by a vote of the Commission.

"We are very pleased that the staff recognizes the safety of crystal rhinestones in children's products based on sound risk assessment considerations," said Sheila Millar, a veteran consumer product safety attorney with Washington, D.C.'s Keller and Heckman. The associations hope that the Commissioners will support some type of relief for these safe products.

Millar, who represented the Fashion Jewelry Trade Association in its exemption request, said that crystal and glass rhinestones are popular in many children's products, including jewelry, apparel, accessories and footwear. Millions of dollars worth of products, many made and sold by small businesses, will be affected by the Commission's decision.

Millar noted, "If the Commissioners do not believe they have authority under the CPSIA to allow them to make common sense risk-based decisions, they should vote to stay enforcement and ask Congress to change the law."

"Banning safe products and harming small businesses in the process doesn't make sense from either a public policy or an economic perspective," she added.

Millar has spent almost 30 years representing corporate and association clients on consumer product and product safety issues, and she was actively involved in advocating on the Consumer Products Safety Act of 2008.

For more information on this timely and active controversy, please contact Tara Busby at 202.434.4174 or Erik Cummins at 415.217.9341, or visit khlaw.com.

Founded in 1962, Keller and Heckman has a broad practice in regulatory law and related litigation and business transactions. The firm employs an unusual legal/science model with a 3 to 1 ratio of one scientist in-house for approximately every three attorneys. The firm has offices in Washington, D.C., Brussels, San Francisco, and Shanghai.