Unintended Consequences of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act

After last year's scare over contaminated toys made in China, Congress responded with a new law to require all products aimed at children under 12 years old to be certified as safe and virtually lead-free by independent testing. The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) was passed in August, 2008. This law requires testing and certification for ALL toys, books, clothing, art, educational supplies, materials for the learning disabled, bicycles, and more. Any uncertified item intended for children under the age of 12 will be considered contraband after February 10, 2009. The burden may be manageable for big manufacturers and retailers that can absorb the costs. Less likely to survive are hundreds and hundreds of small businesses and craftspeople.

While we applaud the CPSIA for responding, in their haste they simply forgot to exclude the class of children's goods that have earned and kept the public's trust: toys, clothes, books and accessories made in the US, Canada, Australia and Europe. As a result, unless the law is modified, is that handmade and used children's products will no longer be legal in the US. You won’t be able to sell or give away any children's products that have not been independently tested by a third-party lab and certified compliant with this law. Further more, this over reaching law will impact our schools and public libraries. Existing (safe) items will be required to be needlessly destroyed.

To anyone who has not READ the entire text of the law, and to those who have merely "skimmed" it: READ the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 before dismissing the very real concerns and issues raised.

The Act is very confusing and we want to be mindful that others need to be given enough context to understand the issues. It is not about being anti-child-safety or anti-testing. It’s not about politics. It is about dealing with the fact that this over reaching law is far too vague and neglects to consider the impact of its words. For small American, Canadian, Australian and European toy-makers, and manufacturers of all children's products the costs of mandatory testing will probably force them out of business. That said, even larger companies are demanding more clarification.

Please read this excellent article written by Holly Jahangiri. I was touched by her elegance in making her points and her appeal to all people who will be impacted to unify their efforts.

I have no doubt the law will be amended, but how long will it take? And will it go far enough? During that time, how many independent designer and small business we have grown to love will be forced to closed their doors? As a crafts person, small business owner, children's product designer, book reader, consumer, etc, etc- I feel VERY deeply about changing this law. It impacts all of us. Please make your voice heard by signing a petition, writing or calling your congress representative, send a letter to talk show hosts like Oprah, Ellen, Rachel Ray, Martha Stewart, contact your local news stations - anything to get the word out. You help is GREATLY needed.

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Holly Jahangiri said...

Thank you for another excellent post on the dangers of the CPSIA to our economy and our culture. In fact, it is both of those things that are at stake here.

Thank you, too, for the link to my thoughts on the CPSIA; we should have united far sooner to make this push against the law as written, but many of us didn't know - and many more still don't know anything about the CPSIA. That a law with such broad, devastating economic and cultural impact could be passed UNANIMOUSLY last year - with so little fanfare or notice - is horrifying to me. Partly because our elected officials made it happen, and partly because we all apparently fell asleep at the wheel and LET it happen. To those who were trying to raise the red flag BEFORE this thing was signed into law.

head-lint said...

Thank you for your kind words - I still feel like I haven't said what I really wanted to say, but it is a start. I found your posting to be very inspiring.

Yes, more of us should have jumped in sooner in spreading the word but the grassroots movement that has been spreading across the internet is truly impressive and it continues to grow.

Reminds me of when I was part of the Graphic Artists Guild (N.CA chapter) and we fought hard against the State Board of Equalization and unfair sales tax collection practices. It took time and constant perseverance, but we WON that battle. And played a key role in the rewriting of the California sales tax collection regulations that pretained to artists.


Atticus said...

Great blog. Very interesting

Greetings from Spain

head-lint said...


Thanks! New to blogging so I appreciate the feedback.

Curious: how did you find me?