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New Law Threatens Family Budgets, Environment, and Small Business

New Law Threatens Family Budgets, Environment, and Small Business
Category: Safety and Regulations
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Views: 428

The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 may have unintended and costly consequences.

At Enkore Kids, your child’s safety has always our first priority since our opening in 2003. All toys and clothing accepted into our store must pass our rigorous system of safety. This includes the staff and myself personally testing the products for loose attachments and more importantly checking the CPSC’s recall website, among other safety measures. We value our relationship with you and your child and take pride in providing your child safe toys and clothing. We are mothers as well and nothing is more important than the safety of our children.

The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA), was created with the intent to toughen safety standards (particular with regards to lead and phthalates). It's key points are (in very abbreviated form as it is a 67 page law):

  • Ban phthalates in all durable child care items for children under 3.
    Progressively restrict lead in all children's items (includes all child equipment, toys, books, school supplies, electronics, clothing, shoes, etc) that is for use by children under 12.
  • As of February 10, 2009, the amount of lead may not exceed 600 ppm.
  • As of August, 2009, the amount may not exceed 300 ppm.
  • As of August, 2011, the amount may not exceed 100 ppm (unless the CPSC determines it is technologically unfeasible, in which case further guidance will be given).
    Beginning in November, 2008, all manufacturers were required to self-test all their skus, by batch or lot, and issue General Certification of Conformity (GCC) to accompany all imports or sales to distributors and retailers, regardless of where the product originates (domestic & foreign).
  • As of February 10, 2009, no items that do not pass these tests (or were not tested) may be manufactured, sold, or distributed.
  • As of August, 2009, all children's products will be required to have permanent labels affixed to them showing manufacturer information and tracking information so batches and lots can be identified.
  • Also as of August, 2009, all children's products will be required to be tested by a third party accredited lab. No exceptions have been provided for. There are currently 18 accredited labs in the US.

While I support higher safety standards and required testing of potential lead-containing items, this law is seriously flawed in ways that are devestating to all sectors of our society. The major unintended consequence of the law is that all products legally made prior to November, 2008, will be assumed "hazardous" unless they were tested and the manufacturer can produce a GCC to prove it.

The CPSC's "Falvey Opinion" interprets the CPSIA to mean that the law with respect to lead is retroactive. This means unless a person or retailer can prove through testing that their child's item has less than 600 ppm lead as of February 10, 2009, it will be illegal to sell. Then in August, items legally made to contain less than 600 ppm of lead will be illegal to sell as the standard will be reduced to 300 ppm. This mass illegalization of children's products will again occur in August of 2011 when the standard changes to 100 ppm.

This will affect as examples only (not all inclusive):

  • All hand-crafters, work at home manufacturers, and small run manufacturers who will not be able to afford testing, which is estimated to cost between $150-$4000 per component tested, with an average cost of $500. As an example, a cloth diaper may have three components: inner fleece, outer lining, and velcro. At a cost of $500 per component, that would cost $1500 for one batch of cloth diapers using the same materials. Change the color or start on a new bolt of material and testing is required again.
  • Daycare providers as they are required by law to provide "safe" items for the children they care for as defined by the CPSC. As the CPSC's interpretation of the law is that untested items are unsafe unless proven by testing as safe, daycare providers will either need to obtain proof of testing from the manufacturer, test their items, or buy new items. However, they'll be forced to go through this again each time the law reduces the allowable level as the GCC provided doesn't say what the level is.
  • Thrifts, Consignments, and Charities that sell used items will not be able to resell used items without the GCC.
  • You will not be legally allowed to sell your own items on eBay, Craiglist (or any other site), or even hold a yard sale without providing a GCC to the buyer to prove their children's items are in compliance. You will not even be legally allowed to donate or give away these items, even to foreign countries as it is explicitly forbidden to "export" items not proven safe.
  • Hotels, hospitals, and any public play area will have to ensure all their child-related items are tested or replace them as they are provided to the public.
  • Libraries will have to ensure their children's books have been tested or replace them.
    New & Used book stores will likewise have to ensure their books for children are safe or discard them.
  • Schools will have to examine all their child-related items and supplies from books, to science equipment, to paper clips if they are to be used by children 12 and younger. Items not proven tested, will, by CPSC's interpretation of the law, have to be tossed as well.
  • PTA fundraisers that involve handmade crafts for kids will be forbidden.
  • Holiday craft bazaars by your local church will likewise be forbidden for children's products.
  • Trade shows for vintage Barbies, Star Wars Figures, Hotwheels, among others will be illegal.
  • Families looking to save money or be environmental friendly by reusing and recycling children's items will no longer be able to.

Does this sound extreme? Perhaps, but (as the fine for violations is $100,000 per offense and up to 5 years in jail) I am not willing to risk it and neither should you. As ignorance of the law is not often a good defense, it is vital that the word about this law and the CPSC interpretation of the retroactivity of it be spread far and wide to ensure it is fixed before more irrepairable harm is done.

A brief review of the internet by Googling "CPSIA" will show that 1000's of people are already making decisions to liquidate inventory, stop production, and file for bankruptcy. So I ask you to help change this law by:

  • Sign the Save Kids' Clothing Resale Petition! (Also has links to easily send your customizable comments to all your Congressional legislators.
  • For Maryland Legislators, find phone numbers and websites for more contact information.
  • For other states, Google your representative and senators. It's much more impactful to call and visit personally than to just email.
  • Contact your local level government officials as well and local level Republican and Democrat committee members.
  • Call local radio shows and other media to ask that this issue get the coverage it deserves.
  • Vote for Change, the top 10 ideas will be presented to President Obama after his inaugeration.
  • Post your comments here and on other CPSIA Blogs. There is strength in numbers.
  • Find official information on the CPSIA at the CPSA's website.
  • Read the LA Times Article on the issue, too.

Forward this information to all your friends, especially parents, so they can help, too.

We request an immediate suspension of the CPSIA as written to stop American small businesses from going under in all the confusion until a new law can be thoroughly debated and provide for:

  • Allowing of pre-existing, non-recalled children's items legally manufactured to continue to be legally sold despite future mandated reductions in lead content as it is impossible for the end consumer to know under what standard a particular item was made.
  • Exclusions from testing for small manufacturers and hand-crafters that have historically not had issues with recalls.
  • Exclusions for testing materials that are by their nature, non-toxic such as cotton, wood, etc.
  • Specific exclusions for items that by their nature must have lead in them (ie: bicycle tire valve stem, many electronic components) even though a child under 12 will be using it. Provide for labeling of these components so parents are informed.

Please use these points when speaking with our elected officials because just denouncing a bill without a recommended course of action will likely not get far.

Thank you for reading this and I (and my fellow business owners, families, and other concerned citizens) appreciate your help.

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