Thrift stores and children's resale shops appear to be back in business.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission on Thursday exempted them from a new law that requires manufacturers and retailers to test all children's items for lead.
The law, which would have put many children's consignment shops out of business, goes into effect Feb. 10.
U.S. Rep. Gus M. Bilirakis had asked the commission to "provide regulatory relief" to second-hand stores because they provide a needed product in bad economic times.
The commission agreed Thursday, saying in a news release that the new law would not require resellers to test their inventories. Instead, the agency would focus on "products of the greatest risk and the largest exposure."
The agency urged resellers to stay away from products with lead and to keep a watchful eye on its list of recalled toys, such as cribs and play yards, children's jewelry and painted toys.
But the agency followed up with this language:
"Resellers cannot sell children's products that exceed the lead limit and therefore should avoid products that are likely to have lead content, unless they have testing or other information to indicate the products being sold have less than the new limit. Those resellers that do sell products in violation of the new limits could face civil and/or criminal penalties."
While the wording might indicate that resellers should avoid selling items on the recall list, some consignment store owners said it was vague and left them on the hook for violations.
"It's still illegal to sell it if it doesn't have the lead standard and so if it's not tested, potentially we could still be breaking the law," said Carol Vaporis, owner of Duck Duck Goose Consignment in New Port Richey. "We need to be exempt from that."
The law requires items meant for children 12 and younger to have certification that they contain less than 600 parts per million of lead. After August, that amount drops to 300 parts per million in total lead content and 90 parts per million in paint.
Lead exposure can cause brain and nervous system damage, behavior and learning problems, among other things, in kids.
Stella Myers, owner of Stellie Bellies, a St. Petersburg children's consignment store, was relieved shops like hers are now exempt.
"I think it's definitely a smart move in our economy and for our environment and for the people who purchase from resale shops," she said, "as well as for the people that own them."
Leonora LaPeter Anton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8640.