I bought a new kitchen faucet the other day. Yeah, yeah, I know. Doesn't knock you off your seat, right? It didn't me either...until I was actually shopping for the faucet at the home improvement store.
After I got over the sticker shock, I began looking around. I had certain things I was looking for. While these involved color and height, it also involved brand. We have 25 year old Delta faucets in our house and they still work great! Last weekend I had to change out washers in two of the faucets that had begun to drip. The parts were under $10 for both faucets and the project was extremely easy. I was pleased.
So, needless to say, after such a fine performance, I was inclined to buy a Delta faucet. But my selection process narrowed down to two. A Delta and another brand that looked really nice and was less expensive. But I had never heard of this other brand. And I've had bad experiences with "off" brands in the past. It seems like to me that "off brand" stuff just doesn't last very long. I keep thinking about the off brand bread that Diane buys sometimes. You have to eat it on fast forward in order to get as many slices gone as you can before it molds!
So I turned over the box and sure enough, it was made in China. I picked the Delta faucet and saw that it was made in the USA. Ever since the China drywall mess, home products made in developing countries kind of scare me now. I have what is probably an irrational fear. I don't want to install a faucet made in some third world country only to find out later that the stuff inside the faucet causes cancer.
You probably think I'm very prejudiced against China, but I'm really not. I'm just cautious. And for good reason. You see, this past Tuesday I did the funeral of a man who died of Mesithelimoa. He had been a welder of metal doorframes for most his working years. When he would lay the doorframes down on the ground to weld them together, he would use a mat that was made of asbestos. Today we know that exposure to asbestos can cause cancer. One suspects that exposure to the mat over time or possible exposure to buildings with asbestos siding and/or asbestos insulation eventually caused this horrible disease to develop in him. The loss to the family is heartbreaking.
So China is not alone in manufacturing potentially dangerous products. It seems like to me that it is in the early days of a country's getting going or of a new product development that the potential for problems is the highest. Ask any Realtor about lead based paint. That stuff was used all over the place in our country in the last 50+ years. Today we know that lead based paint is dangerous. In fact, you have to have proper training to remove it now.
The lesson here is not, "Don't buy China stuff," but rather be careful what you buy. We cannot protect ourselves from every unknown danger in the world, but we can be smarter consumers. Read the label. Consider the production source. And then consider price verses value verses health.
In this case, I think I'll take regulation.
Kid in tub photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons: http://www.flickr.com/photos/familymwr/4929686071/