Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Learning about law: CPSIA

Here's a link to a PDF that explains the new Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act.
This is a big file and takes awhile to download. MOM! Don't view this one!)

Government site about it:

CPSIA - The Lessons of Nero:

More explanation:

Basically, in order to protect children from dangerous chemicals (such as lead in toys), every manufacturer who creates things for children under 12 will be required to test each component of each item they make.

For large manufacturers, this will add to the cost, but won't necessarily put them out of business. But for small businesses, such as people who create handmade items like clothes or toys, it can ruin them. Imagine a handmade outfit for a child. Each component has to be tested - and by the person who puts it together, not the original manufacturer. So the cloth, thread, any buttons or other fastenings, any trim such as ribbons. One item could have 5-6 components that each have to be tested, and this goes for each item made. One type of button on this item, another kind of button on another article of clothing, and each test costing hundreds of dollars (from what I'm seeing on the web).

Resale shops are allowed to sell children's things. But they are not allowed to sell them if there is lead content above the limits set in CPSIA. So resale shops will have to test items or not sell them, as well. People who sell used kids' clothes on eBay or in garage sales will be required to test them.

Even books can be part of this. Apparently only books made entirely of paper (no mention of the items that hold them together, like staples or glue) are eligible for sale without being tested.

Congress will look at exceptions on a case-by-case basis. Don't they have anything better to do? There is already an agency - the Consumer Product Safety Commission is responsible for this.

One of the questions is about testing children's craft items:

We sell craft materials, some packages of beads can have 12 or more colors of beads. Can we composite 3 or more colors at a time to test the beads?

No. Compositing to combine different paints or substrates from one or more samples to reduce the number of tests run may fail to detect excessive levels of lead in one individual paint or substrate because of the effect of dilution by non-lead-containing samples. This approach is therefore currently not acceptable. The only exception to “compositing” is when labs have to combine like paint from several like parts or products to obtain a sufficient sample size for analysis because there is an insufficient quantity of paint on one item to perform the testing.

This just seems like a very, very bad way to protect children. Especially in this weak economy, our government is going to put potentially thousands of businesses out of business by not allowing them to sell items designed for children. This law includes items already made, so people are even saying that libraries will have to take children's books off the shelves until they are tested. (I know, it all sounds like crazy talk, but you do your own research and decide.)

And this doesn't just mean for manufacturers, crafters, sellers and resellers. Every year our local Wells Fargo Bank sponsors a Dress a Doll/Build a Toy competition. The dolls and toys are then given to local children through Operation Christmas. Since these are intended for children under 12, each component of these dolls and toys will have to be tested by the people making them. Who will want to sew a doll outfit or paint a toy if they then have to test each part of the outfit or each color of paint?

All I can do is say, contact your members of Congress. Particularly members of the Committee on Energy and Commerce. According to this site, only the chairman of this committee, Henry A. Waxman, can call a hearing on this subject and only Waxman can get a delay on this.

One more thing: Etsy is a site where people can sell their handicrafts, including items intended for children. Here's a look at what Etsy sellers are saying.

Click on the pictures and read the item descriptions.

My kids are 13 and 15, so this doesn't directly affect my ability to buy things for them. But this whole thing is kind of scary. The CPSIA is a law designed to protect children - a very good idea. But it does in a very wrong way.

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