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Spring cleaning may require ID

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(Alex T. Paschal/apaschal@saukvalley.com)
A new state law requires retailers to check IDs and keep a log of anyone buying “caustic and noxious substances” such as drain cleaners, some toilet bowl cleaners, pool chemicals and household chemicals such as muriatic acid and sulfuric acid – anything with a warning label that says “causes severe burns.”

If you’re getting ready to do some heavy-duty cleaning, don’t forget your ID on your trip to the store.

A new state law that took effect Jan. 1 requires retailers to keep track of people who purchase certain caustic cleaners.

When purchasing the products, consumers must show a government-issued ID. Their name and address, the date and time of the transaction, the brand name, product name, and net weight of the item all must be logged.

It was passed in response to acid attacks on two Chicago women, the Illinois Retail Merchants Association said.

Customers have been a little confused but for the most part understanding, local hardware managers said.

“We’ve probably seen it both ways, to people not being very upset to people wondering why this is going on, why they have to give their information,” said Brian Grummert, manager of Grummert’s Hardware in Sterling.

Rich Kelly, manager and owner of the Dixon Ace Hardware, has his clerks keeping track of the reactions.

“Most people are not saying too much about it,” Kelly said. “They understand it’s something we have to do. It seems like a silly way to do it. We sell a lot of chemicals out of the store, and it would be hard to trace it back.”

To keep it from being a surprise when customers get to the checkout lane, both stores have posted notices by the products, which include drain cleaners, some toilet bowl cleaners, pool chemicals and household chemicals such as muriatic acid and sulfuric acid – basically, anything with a warning label that says “causes severe burns.”

The law at a glance

Anyone seeking to purchase “caustic and noxious substances” that are required to be labeled with the caution that the substance may cause burns – even relatively common household items containing sulfuric acid or hydrochloric acid – now are required to reveal their identities in a logbook kept by retailers.

Unless the person in possession of those substances is using them for manufacturing, scientific research, teaching or agriculture, Public Act 97-0565 makes it otherwise illegal to possess such substances.

Batteries are exempt.

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