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Study shines light on lead content in Christmas lights

BY HBSDEALER Staff

A new study posted from product information company The Ecology Center indicates four out of five popular brands of Christmas lights contain lead, with 54% having greater levels than permitted in children’s products, according to Bloomberg News.  

The study also showed 28% of the 68 products tested showed higher levels of lead than the 1,000 parts per million allowable in Europe for electronics.  

Currently, the Consumer Products Safety Commission’s standard for lead in children’s products is 300 ppm, but is scheduled to drop by 100 ppm next year.  

According to the article, a CPSC spokesperson pointed out that Christmas lights aren’t intended as children’s products, and parents shouldn’t allow their children to handle them.  

The lead is used to stabilize the casing to provide adaquate heat shielding, according to the article.

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Eco-standards updated for kitchen and bath cabinets

BY HBSDEALER Staff

The Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association (KCMA), a Reston, Va.-based trade organization for manufacturers of kitchen cabinets, bath vanities, decorative laminate products, has revised the criteria for companies to attain certification under the association’s Environmental Stewardship Program (ESP).

Under the new standards, effective Jan. 1, 2011, the use of CARB ATCM compliant low formaldehyde emitting particleboard, hardwood plywood and MDF panel products is mandatory.

In addition, the updated standards encourage the use of solid wood and plywood products certified through a recognized sustainable forestry program by doubling the possible points. Companies who offer chain-of-custody sustainable forestry certification on at least one line of cabinetry earn additional points.  

Currently over 140 companies or brands are ESP certified by the association. To gain certification, applicants must earn points in each of five ESP categories: Air Quality, Product Resource Management, Process Resource Management, Environmental Stewardship and Community Relations.   

KCMA ESP certified cabinets can be identified by the ESP seal, located on sink base and vanity base of all certified lines. To obtain a complete list of ESP certified manufacturers and learn more about the program, visit www.greencabinetsource.org.

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Fortune Brands to spin off home products division

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Fortune Brands, whose products include Master Lock and Moen, has announced its intention to separate its three consumer businesses –home and security, golf products and distilled spirits — so it can focus solely on its liquor business as an independently publicly traded company.

The Deerfieled, Ill.-based company also said it will pursue a tax-free spin off to its shareholders of its home and security business as an independent, publicly traded company and the sale or tax-free spin-off of its golf business. 

The board of directors, which made these decisions unanimously, has directed management to develop detailed separation plans for consideration and final approval by the board, according to the announcement. The company expects to complete development of these plans — including the structure, timing, and other related matters for each business — within the next several months.

“While the breadth and balance of our portfolio have served shareholders very well, we see the potential for even greater value by separating our businesses into focused companies at a time when they have emerged from the economic downturn in such strong positions,” said Bruce Carbonari, chairman and chief executive officer of Fortune Brands. “We believe now is the right time to move ahead with this tax-efficient approach, and we’re confident the course we’ve outlined today generates greater potential long-term value than all other alternatives."

Fortune Brands, Inc. include Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark bourbon, Sauza tequila, Canadian Club whisky, Courvoisier cognac, Cruzan rum, Teacher’s and Laphroaig Scotch, EFFEN vodka and DeKuyper cordials. The home and security brands include Moen faucets, Aristokraft, Omega, Diamond and Kitchen Craft cabinetry, Therma-Tru door systems, Simonton windows, Master Lock security products and Waterloo storage and organization products. Golf brands include Titleist and FootJoy.

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