Saturday, January 10, 2009

Watch out for the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act

I have recently learned that a new law is taking effect on February 10, 2009. The Consumer Protection Safety Improvement Act (CSPIA) requires lead testing and certification for all children's products. In a nutshell, this means that anything that any company sells for use by children under 13 must be tested for lead with a few exceptions for products made of wood and electronics. Including books, CDs and DVDs. Lead testing for books and CDs? Huh? Hefty fines are imposed for being found in violation of the law. I'm still waiting for further clarification as to the exact implications of this law for Alphabet Garten.

I asked my supplier in Germany if he had any information on whether German publishers test for lead in their products. He was flabbergasted at the question! His response? "Seit wann wird denn Blei für die Papierproduktion genommen?" (Since when is lead used in making paper products?) I'm sure it's not - that's just the point.

Lead testing is expensive. I've seen estimates from $100 to several thousand dollars per product. And the law requires each product to be tested! This is just not feasible for most small businesses to afford and consumers surely don't want to pay the price increases required to support this testing.

You will surely see a large impact across all kinds of small businesses who make products for children. Think of small businesses, sellers of handmade items (Etsy would cease to exist), and anyone who produces children's products in small quantities. They are all impacted and could potentially all be wiped out if the law takes effect as written.

As the mother of 3 children, I take lead and phalate poisoning very seriously. However, I think that this law is places such an unreasonable burden on small businesses and will be impossible to implement and police.

An excerpt from a Publisher's Weekly article:
Chip Gibson, president and publisher of Random House Children’s Books, goes further. “This is a potential calamity like nothing I’ve ever seen. The implications are quite literally unimaginable,” he said, noting that children’s books could be removed from schools, libraries and stores; nonprofit groups like First Book would lose donations; and retailers, printers, and publishers could ultimately go out of business. “Books are safe. This is like testing milk for lead. It has to be stopped.
See this post at Boutique Cafe for more information about this law and what you can do to help change it. I'll post more information as I come across it.

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