Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Is a Paper Clip a Children's Product?

As it would happen those killjoys at the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (yeah, those guys who force companies to recall products because they explode, catch fire, or contain to much lead) were recently discussing what is and isn't a "children's product" and how the contents of science kits would be affected. Currently, you can sell a science kit with a bunch of regular house-hold stuff (like paper clips) thrown in it and advertise it for kids and the CPSC doesn't care too much because kids have access to that kind of stuff all the time. The Science Kit people don't like this because they'll have to spend extra time and money performing tests to see if their paper-clips are toxic and that means less profit for them. Science Geeks don't like this because that makes the kits more expensive and fewer people may take an interest in science from an early age.

I'm just worried about this because they might find out that these paper clips that I have previously been throwing around my office and using to hold stacks of papers together with reckless abandon might be toxic. I'm not sure how a piece of steel that's been rolled out thinly and folded oddly would be more toxic than any other piece of steel, but I'm just making wild speculation here, not factual examination.

It is possible that those colored paper clips that the kids think are so dope these days might be a little dangerous. Sure we know that they have a basic steel construction that is covered with colored vinyl, but we don't know what kind of vinyl it is, or what kind of dye is used to color the vinyl. I'm sure it is completely non-toxic, but because Sparco doesn't intend their gorgeous vinyl-coated gem clips as a "children's product", but rather an "adult office supply product," they don't have to test their products. Sparco is probably glad they never have to test what might happen if somebody puts their paper-clips next to a piece of cheddar cheese and fries it up between two slices of rye bread. I don't know if you should eat it, but it would probably be delicious.

Kid's Science News via Yahoo! Associated Press Feed


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