New Lead Inspection Law Goes Into Effect - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

New Lead Inspection Law Goes Into Effect

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UNION GAP--Thrift stores remove clothes and toys from shelves today to comply with a new law.  The new law is supposed to help protect children from lead poisoning, but will it hurt the business of second hand stores?

Today's "pulling day" at the St. Vincent Center in Union Gap.  Many thrift stores are having trouble identifying what items have lead or dangerous plastics called phtalates, so they're pulling anything that may be dangerous off the shelves.

The law's designed to protect kids from toys or clothes that may contain too much lead.  The Consumer Product Safety Commission announced last week that stores do not have to test for lead for another year, but if a child gets sick, they store is still on the hook.

Consumers are split on the law.

"I don't know if I'm going to feel any safer," Terry Sexton said.  "I don't think they have any way of controlling it one way or another."

"I think it's a good thing that regulations will be there for [stores] to follow," Melissa Fairbairn said.

At the St. Vincent Center, workers are storing items until they can figure out a way to test for lead.  They're hopeful this will just be a bump in the road.

"We don't see this as a catastrophic event," Director of Operations Lisa Simmons said.  "We'll keep doing our mission and we may just have to alter the way we do it a bit."

Thrift stores are a valuable resource for low-income families.   Shoppers are worried about what impact this law could have.

"I like those stores," Fairbairn said.  "They're really helpful especially when you've got growing kids."  Fairbairn has two children, and while she doesn't buy secondhand toys, she gets a lot of clothes at thrift stores.

"A lot of people are going to be seriously hurt by it," Sexton said.  "Especially in today's economy, [people are] trying to save as much money as they possibly can.  Now a whole market source is cut off."

The St. Vincent Center said as much of 75 percent of the clothes they donate to people each month are for children, donations they might not be able to make anymore because of this law.