A few weeks ago, I wrote about the new law, The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act
(CPSIA), that will soon go in to effect to set stricter standards on the amount of toxins like lead and phthalates that can be present in children's toys and products. On it's surface, the law is fantastic, banning the use of phthalates and seriously reducing the overall amount of lead that can be found in products marketed for children. But the problem is that the vague wording of the law may mean an end to thrift stores, consigment shops, small toy manufacturers, and even children's libraries if these businesses can't afford the expensive testing and labeling required for compliance.
The Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) recently clarified the wording of the law in a press release, stating:
The new safety law does not require resellers to test children’s products in inventory for compliance with the lead limit before they are sold. 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.
This clarification was intended to make thrift store owners feel better, but it really missed the mark. For starters, the wording of the law has not been changed, so store owners that chose to sell children's clothing would be risking their livliehood based on a statement made in a press release. And this "clarification" still places the burden of proof on the store owners. So tell me CPSC just what exactly do phthalates look like to the naked eye? Without testing, how can these store owners be sure that the products they are selling are compliant with the law? If they can't afford testing, they'll have no products to sell.
CPSIA goes in to effect on February 10th. And if it does, it will honestly and truly mean that many small businesses around the country...toy makers, thrift store owners, children's book stores...will have to shut their doors. Nows the time to call or email your congressional representative
and make sure they understand the concerns over CPSIA.