This post may be slightly off topic for this blog, but it's an issue that affects all children, and therefore all parents in the US, and I don't feel it has gotten the media attention it deserves.
In response to all the toy recalls for lead paint in 2007, Congress passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (aka, the CPSIA). It requires all children’s products (defined as any product designed, marketed toward, or appealing to those 12 and under) be tested by a 3rd party lab for lead and phalates (that bad stuff that softens plastics.) It all sounds well and good. None of us want harmful substances in our kids toys. But there are problems with this law. Big problems that have gotten surprisingly little press so far.
There are some really good blogs about the problems from those in the children’s toys and apparel industry, but I’m going to share a couple links to a more impartial source, Forbes.com. They do an excellent job of explaining how a good idea went so wrong: http://www.forbes.com/opinions/2009/01/22/cpsia-waxman-cpsc-oped-cx_wo_0122olson.html
While the CPSIA is a direct reaction to recalled imported toys (that were breaking already existing lead paint laws I might add), it does not only regulate imported toys. It regulates ALL children’s products. Clothes, books, science kits, toys, art supplies, bibs, quilts, hand-knitted booties, etc., etc. Many smaller manufactures cannot afford the testing costs of hundreds to thousands of dollars per item. Even if the items are made from supplies that have already been tested and certified lead-free, this law requires that the finished product be retested again at additional expense. You can bet that those manufactures that can afford to comply at all will be raising prices to cover these redundant testing expenses.
The scope of the CPSIA even covers libraries and thrift shops. Children’s books may be disappearing from the library. We may soon not be able to donate or buy used kid clothes and toys to Goodwill. If you think I’m overreacting, visit the American Library Association website. The country’s librarians are not happy: http://www.wo.ala.org/districtdispatch/?cat=4
I urge everyone to read the Forbes articles to better understand these issues. Then please write to your representatives and ask for common sense changes that will allow our children to be safe without destroying American companies that have always been consciencence about their products.