Monday, December 15, 2008

What's Wrong With the CPSIA

I've been thinking about this a lot since I heard about it on the Etsy forums.  I think the first thread I saw was from back in October.  At that point most people came to the conclusion that this legislation was aimed at the big retailers and/or Chinese importers, and the heat let off for a while.  Recently this forum topic has re-emerged, as concerned vendors received confirmation from the CPSA or their state governments that this would affect EVERYONE selling ANYTHING for use by children 12 and under.  Basically the law (which goes into effect Feb.10, 2009) requires that manufacturers have all components of all products tested for lead and phthalate content.  The reported cost of testing has put at around $35 per component... and by component, I mean every individual type and colour of thread, fabric, paint, material, finish, etc, etc.  For bigger manufacturers that produce huge batches this isn't too terribly bad, but the expense to the small scale manufacturer or one of a kind crafter would be beyond their means.  And even though some primary components will have already been tested, they must be retested once they are part of a "new" product.  Vintage materials must also be tested.  Worse, this law applies retroactively, meaning that any held over stock must either be tested... or discarded.  This also applies to any used childrens' items, you know, the kind people sell at garage sales or thrift stores.  If products aren't tested and certified, they are considered hazardous and the vendor could be subject to a huge fine for selling these.  Also the CPSA has made it clear that they will be determining whether your product is intended for children, whether or not the product is marketed to older teens and adults.   Art dolls, Blythe, stuffed toys and sculpture have all been defined as children's items because said to be they are perceived that way by the average consumer.  All imports and exports (to and from the US) must be tested.  The panic in the handmade community has been growing as people realize what this means for both buyers and sellers.  The wording of the official document is extremely vague, which has caused incredible confusion as people try to figure out exactly how they will be affected.  There are still a lot of questions about who needs to comply, how to get items tested and how this law will be enforced.   

I have a beautiful little boy.  His health, welfare and happiness are absolutely paramount to me.   I can understand the reasoning behind this law.  I don't know what I would do if he became sick or -god forbid- died from a toy or clothing I gave him.  However the CPSIA obviously goes far beyond what is reasonable.  To deem all untested items hazardous is illogical and reactionary.  
It is important that consumers take responsibility for what we bring into our homes.  We can not expect anyone to do this for us.  This law will severely harm the one group of manufacturers most likely to take the care and effort needed to provide parents with safe products and answer our questions honestly.  

I sincerely hope that this law will be amended.  I don't think small business should be exempt from safety regulations, but there must be some middle ground.  I don't have the answers, but I am trying my best to spread awareness about this issue.  

To learn more, please visit these sites:

There are also groups on social networking sites like facebook, myspace, etc.

I hope everyone - world wide - puts some thought into this and expresses their solidarity with the small business community.

A press release on Jan.8/09 from the CPSA has stated that re-sellers of children's items, such as thrift stores, will be exempt the from certification requirements.
You can read about it here


Sandy said...

This has been discussed some on Bev. Charity Challenge, one of the many palces we who craft for charity collect up. It's a forum type group on yahoo. Initially people were concerned, as I've scanned some of the conversations, it appears most have now decided it doesn't really affect us, and is directed at China and indcates incoming items to the US need to be tested. Some of the charitable crafters also have accounts on ESTy, and sell some of their wares, but it appeared most felt it really didn't apply to them. I've not read the full content of the law; but thats my take on the chatter I've heard about it.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Seems far to reaching in your description and impossible to enforce. Though I believe the original intent was good, like so many things it's way over board.

Thanks for stopping by my blog for a visit, please come again. I almost finished the pair of mittens I was working on last night for The Bridge Project (one thumb to go). It's sad people don't have a roof over their heads to protect them.

You are indeed up their where it gets COLD!


Sue said...

I think you're right about how difficult this will be to enforce. One of the spokespersons of the CPSA has publicly downplayed the effects the regulations will have on U.S. small business. The fact remains however that crafters here are still expected to follow the rules as businesses even if China is the main target of this new law.

I really love your blog and the project you've undertaken, and I'm so happy you stopped by here!