Wednesday, January 28, 2009

CPSIA: Did you Know?

**This is a blog post that many are posting today to help raise awareness of the new law and how it will affect everyone. Many people don't know about it yet. And those who do know about it, know it's very hard to understand. Even my local news last night didn't mention anything about the law besides that fact that thrift stores don't know what to do.**

As parents and concerned citizens I’m sure most of us at one time or another have been confronted with the question of lead poisoning. But have you asked yourself what your government is doing to protect your children from lead contained in toys? The answer? They're banning toys, taking books from schools and libraries, hurting low income families, killing entrepreneurial spirit and risking putting the economy in an even greater depression than we've seen in decades. I'd like to introduce you to their solution: the CPSIA.

Do you know about the CPSIA? No? Then I ask you to take a few minutes to find out about it.

The CPSIA stands for Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, a new set of laws that will come into effect on 10 February, 2009 and will impact many, many people in a negative way. Make no mistake, this is very real. View it for yourself. If Forbes, the American Library Association and numerous other media are paying attention, perhaps you should too.

The CPSIA requires very expensive testing for all products that will be used for children under 12--everything from sweaters to notebooks to toys to books. Even products not necessary meant for children under 12 but that can still be used by children under 12--like office supplies. They're not meant for children under 12, but legal pads are an affordable alternative to those Five Star binders and notebooks. Testing runs $70 per component for lead testing. Around $350 per component for phthalate testing. Which means a sweater with 2 colors of yarn, 3 colors of thread, buttons, and a felt applique (7 components in all) would cost $2,940 to test. Make the same sweater in a larger size--$2,940. Same sweater in a smaller size--$2,940. Imagine how much you'll be paying for sweaters now. Not that much ($2,940) because businesses will eat some of the cost, but don't be surprised if prices double.

How will these new laws affect you? Well, here are a few examples:

To the Parents of Young Students:
Due to the new law, expect to see the cost of school supplies sky rocket. While those paper clips weren't originally intended for your student to use, they will need to be tested now that your 11-year-old needs them for his school project. This law applies to any and all school supplies (textbooks, pencils, crayons, paper, etc.) being used by children under 12. This will likely raise your property taxes, as well, to cover the new public education costs.

To the Avid Reader:
Due to the new law, all children's books will be pulled from library and school shelves, as there is no exemption for them. That’s okay though, there's always television. Our children don’t need to learn the love of reading after all.
Article from the American Library Association: Click Here

To the Lover of All Things Handmade:
Due to the new law, you will now be given a cotton ball and an instruction manual so you can make it yourself since that blanket you originally had your eye on for $50 will now cost you around $1,000 after it's passed testing. It won't even be the one-of-a-kind blanket you were hoping for. Items are destroyed in the testing process making one-of-a-kind items virtually impossible. So that gorgeous hand-knit hat you bought your child this past winter won’t be available next winter.

Lovey from Pogo Shop on Etsy

To the Environmentalist:
Due to the new law, all items in non-compliance will now be dumped into our already overflowing landfills. Imagine not just products from the small business owners, but the Big Box Stores as well. You can't sell it so you must toss it. Or be potentially sued for selling it. You can't even give them away. If you are caught, it is still a violation.

Landscape I Original Collage by Lindsay Brackeen on Etsy

To the Second-Hand Shopper:
Due to the new law, you will now need to spend $20 for that brand new pair of jeans for your 2-year old, rather than shop at the Goodwill for second hand. Many resale shops are eliminating children's items all together to avoid future lawsuits.

To the Entrepreneur:
Due to this new law, you will be forced to adhere to strict testing of your unique products or discontinue to make and/or sell them. Small businesses will be likely to be unable to afford the cost of testing and be forced to close up shop. Due to the current economic state, you'll have to hope for the best when it comes to finding a new job in Corporate America.

To the Antique Toy Collector:
Due to the new law, you'd better start buying now because it's all going to private collection and will no longer be available to purchase. “Because the new rules apply retroactively, toys and clothes already on the shelf will have to be thrown out if they aren't certified as safe.” Article from the Wall Street Journal: Click Here

Antique Toy Car Assemblage Necklace by Savage Salvage on Etsy

To the American Economy:
Already struggling under an economy that hasn’t been this weak in decades, the American economy will be hit harder with the inevitable loss of jobs and revenues from suppliers, small businesses and consumers. The required testing is far too costly and restrictive for small businesses or individuals to undertake.

To the Worldwide Economy:
Due to this new law, many foreign manufacturers have already pulled out of the US market. You can imagine the impact of this on their businesses.

If you think this is exaggerating, here is a recent article from Forbes.

And for those of you prepared to be stupefied and boggled, The New Law:
Click Here

Did you know? If this upsets or alarms you, please react.


* said...

This is absolutely crazy, I run a resale/consignment store in a small town, there are a LOT of low income families around here, and that number is growing with the way the economy is, I have contacted my local lawmakers about this and not having much luck getting anywhere, though I finally hit a few that promise to look into it and try to get some changes or at least clarifications on certain things (one happens to live the next town over and he called me personally about 8:30 the other evening to discuss it). As a business decision I have decided not to offer much for children after the first week of February just to eliminate any potential risk, though I am lucky my business also carries items for teens and adults so I can still stay open and just focus on those and mineral makeup until I can start getting newer baby and children's items for the store. It just generally sucks though, especially the way they did it so secretively, no one even KNOWS about it!

Sara said...

Thank you for working to get this law changed. I only offered very limited children's art but I pulled it all in anticipation for February. Luckily, I also carry mostly stuff for adults since no children go around buying fine art. But it's such a threat to the economy that it definitely affects us all.

If you run into anyone who doesn't really know about the law or what it entails, feel free to show this to them. Print it out, link to it, post it on your own blog--we just need the message spread.

Laura said...

Sara Thank you for breaking this down so that more people understand. It is so scary how this is going to happen and most Americans are unaware. It is going to hit them like a ton of bricks. I learned something from you today. I have a lot of things that are not intended for children but could be used for them. I did not understand the risk in that. I thought I could post a warning that they are not for children 12 and under and I would be covered but that may not be the case. I am going to twitter your blog today and send it to a few people.

aquariann said...

Thank you for sharing. The law sounds ridiculous, and bad news for the economy. However, I'm confused about the handmade portion - won't the materials used have to abide by that law, so the crafter won't have to test the actual product made? Also, I haven't read much from the CPSC site yet, but I did come across this line at - "Sellers of used children’s products, such as thrift stores and consignment stores, are not required to certify that those products meet the new lead limits, phthalates standard or new toy standards." - so that gives me hope that it won't affect the second hand shopper as drastically as presented here.

Sara said...

Aquariann -

If you continue reading that paragraph it says:

"However, resellers cannot sell children’s products that exceed the lead limit and therefore should avoid products that are likely to have lead content, unless they have testing or other information to indicate the products being sold have less than the new limit. Those resellers that do sell products in violation of the new limits could face civil and/or criminal penalties."

Meaning if they aren't 100% sure, they can't sell it without a certificate. Even for their current stock.

And if crafters can get the certification for each of the components for their items, it should be fine. It remains to be seen whether that will be possible. Those that I know who have asked retailers so far have received no response. Even if the retail products abide by law, the crafters/artists still have to get the certificate for themselves from the retailer at this point--hopefully that will change.

Winklepots said...

Thank you so much for helping to spread the word about this poorly written law, Sara. It affects us all. Here's hoping it's amended soon to minimize the damage being done.