WHAT IS THE CPSIA?
Do you remember last year’s scare over wooden and painted toys from China? I was concerned that the Thomas the tank trains were contaminated with too much lead. I kept checking the recall lists because I had just purchased some trains for Samuel.
In response to the overwhelming recall of toys and products containing lead (over 8 million items) the government decided to step in and stop the issue of lead getting to our children. Good, right? Keep children safe!
When congress passed the CPSIA (the Consumer Product Safety Inspection Act) in August 2008, they were intending to protect companies from selling harmful products. All products intended for children under 12 years old must go through thorough and stringent testing. The CPSIA bans lead and phthalates in children’s products, mandates third party testing and certification, and requires manufacturers of all goods for children under the age of 12 to permanently label each item with a date and batch number.
For all the official legal documents and info read here.
How does this affect us?
With good intentions to protect children, the new regulations are so broad and far reaching they are doing more harm than good. Third party testing is so outrageously expensive and extensive, a KEY issue looked into when passing this law, it is threatening to put tens of thousands of companies out of business. For example:
So, you make/sell products for children:
- Each particle of your product (clothing, books, toys, educational materials, baby products, etc.) must be tested by a third party. You sell a baby sweater? Each zipper, button, thread, fabric make and particle must be SEPARATELY tested. Even if lead has never been detected in that product. Even if the manufacturer of that product claims the contents are safe. If you make the baby sweater, you must get it tested.
- For a rather humorous (but healthy dose of reality) of the costs imposed on small business, see over 1,000 ETSY items that have been priced to meet the demands after Feb. 10th Many of the items are for sale for 1,000's of dollars to prove how much it would cost to have each item tested. here are some examples.
What does all that mean?
- To the small business owner: Small business owners, home run businesses and crafters will need to have their products comply with these new regulations (regardless of how many products you sell) or serious fines (up to $100,000) can take effect.
- To the student and avid reader: The national Library association is concerned because children’s books currently fall under the umbrella of the CPSIA. Read the American Library Association’s letter to congress here. School materials and educational materials will go up in cost due to the stringent testing.
- To the Thrift store shopper: Currently their is no formal statement exempting thrifted items from being tested. There is some info that suggests thrifted items are exempt, but it is still not clear
- To the consumer: Fewer options will be available. Handmade, European imported, boutiqued, unique children’s products will no longer need to compete against the mass produced Matel and Fisher price products because they will no longer be legal. Read the Handmade Toy Alliance’s statement here.
- To the economy in general: With families losing incomes due to these regulations, consumers paying higher prices for children’s products and businesses having to borrow more money to stay afloat, February 10th has been labeled as “National Bankruptcy day”
What can we do about it?
The law is already in place. The CPSC is a rather small organization and is struggling to create the infrastructure to comply with such a massive change in commerce. Because of that, formal statements with specifications of any products that may or may not be exempt have not been made. At this point, companies are still forced to comply. According to this forum, Congress has denied a second hearing, and has not shown any signs of changing the law.
However, YOUR voice NEEDS to be heard in the mean time. This issue has already made it to the front page of Change.org (Obama’s site on change) but still, nothing has happened yet to suggest change. If something doesn’t happen soon, HUGE changes for the worse have already been set into play.To learn more about it in the news and how to make a change read my cousin's blog here.
I honestly hope this will not effect me personally. One, because I want to open a shop on Etsy and sell things to be used by children under 12 years old. And two, because Ilike to see others handcraft items for children and I like to purchase them too! It's a bit scary but I am not too worried yet. I hope I am not being naive. But I think we can make a difference too!