CPSIA Blog in day

I thought European safety laws were a bit loopy sometimes, but the new US legislation is a whole new level of bonkers. It threatens not only tiny one-person craft workers, without whom Etsy and the like would not exist, but a gamut of other nuts which are being smashed by this legal sledge hammer. And it won't just effect US citizens, but anyone who sells to the American market. Including me. So I raise my head from my work desk to join in today's mass blog, having swiped (with permission) the following text from Kitschy Coo's blog, along with a few hundred other bloggers - do join in with today's mass blog if this concerns you, as a buyer or a seller.

"As parents and concerned citizens I’m sure most of us at one time or another have been confronted with the question of lead poisoning. But have you asked yourself what your government is doing to protect your children from lead contained in toys? The answer? They're banning toys, taking books from schools and libraries, hurting low income families, killing entrepreneurial spirit and risking putting the economy in an even greater depression than we've seen in decades. I'd like to introduce you to their solution: the CPSIA.

Do you know about the CPSIA? No? Then I ask you to take a few minutes to find out about it.The CPSIA stands for Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, a new set of laws that will come into effect on 10 February, 2009 and will impact many, many people in a negative way. Make no mistake, this is very real. View it for yourself. If Forbes, the American Library Association and numerous other media are paying attention, perhaps you should too.

How will these new laws affect you? Well, here are a few examples:

To the Parents of Young Students:

Due to the new law, expect to see the cost of school supplies sky rocket. While those paper clips weren't originally intended for your student to use, they will need to be tested now that your 11-year-old needs them for his school project. This law applies to any and all school supplies (textbooks, pencils, crayons, paper, etc.) being used by children under 12.

To the Avid Reader:

Due to the new law, all children's books will be pulled from library and school shelves, as there is no exemption for them. That’s okay though, there's always television. Our children don’t need to learn the love of reading after all.Article from the American Library Association http://www.wo.ala.org/districtdispatch/?p=1322

To the Lover of All Things Handmade:

Due to the new law, you will now be given a cotton ball and an instruction manual so you can make it yourself since that blanket you originally had your eye on for $50 will now cost you around $1,000 after it's passed testing. It won't even be the one-of-a-kind blanket you were hoping for. Items are destroyed in the testing process making one-of-a-kind items virtually impossible. So that gorgeous hand-knit hat you bought your child this past winter won’t be available next winter.

To the Environmentalist:

Due to the new law, all items in non-compliance will now be dumped into our already overflowing landfills. Imagine not just products from the small business owners, but the Big Box Stores as well. You can't sell it so you must toss it. Or be potentially sued for selling it. You can't even give them away. If you are caught, it is still a violation.

To the Second-Hand Shopper:

Due to the new law, you will now need to spend $20 for that brand new pair of jeans for your 2-year old, rather than shop at the Goodwill for second hand. Many resale shops are eliminating children's items all together to avoid future lawsuits.

To the Entrepreneur:

Due to this new law, you will be forced to adhere to strict testing of your unique products or discontinue to make and/or sell them. Small businesses will be likely to be unable to afford the cost of testing and be forced to close up shop. Due to the current economic state, you'll have to hope for the best when it comes to finding a new job in Corporate America.

To the Antique Toy Collector:

Due to the new law, you'd better start buying now because it's all going to private collection and will no longer be available to purchase. “Because the new rules apply retroactively, toys and clothes already on the shelf will have to be thrown out if they aren't certified as safe.” http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123189645948879745.html

To the American Economy:

Already struggling under an economy that hasn’t been this weak in decades, the American economy will be hit harder with the inevitable loss of jobs and revenues from suppliers, small businesses and consumers. The required testing is far too costly and restrictive for small businesses or individuals to undertake.

To the Worldwide Economy:

Due to this new law, many foreign manufacturers have already pulled out of the US market. You can imagine the impact of this on their businesses.

If you think this is exaggerating, here is a recent article from Forbes: http://www.forbes.com/2009/01/16/cpsia-safety-toys-oped-cx_wo_0116olson.html

And for those of you prepared to be stupefied and boggled, The New Law: http://www.cpsc.gov/about/cpsia/cpsia.html

Did you know? If this upsets or alarms you, please react.

One would have thought that with economies going down the pan left right and centre, the US government would be more accommodating towards anyone trying to scrape a living with the sweat of their own hands. Apparently not.


Just spotted on Cara's blog - there has been a re-think on this, and not only have the rules been granted a one year stay, but the regulations for small/sole traders look less draconian and should mean that half of Etsy won't be forced to shut up shop. I would love to know precisely how much backlash the US legislators got over this, but I would like to think that a part of it might have been due to crafters and artisans standing together and saying 'show a little common sense!'


d. moll, l.ac. said...

A similar inanity has been going with herbal medicines here in CA for years. Legislation has been passed so that the amount of allowable heavy metals was even less than you would find in a piece of, say, broccoli. All herbal products have to carry a warning sticker..........

Anonymous said...

As an American...my view is that the government is all about big business (and big revenue). Those big businesses can find loopholes out of such laws whereas the small artist can not. Soon (unless a miracle happens) the U.S. will be owned by only 2-3 huge companies that pull the strings of the citizen puppets.

Libby Buttons said...

Welcome to the even BIGGER U.S. Government. To be an American is to be treated as though you have no thought processes of your own. It means the government will take over and make the decisions for us. They will spend our hard earned tax dollars on what they want and they will ban, regulate, and oversee what they want. You can't even sell someone a handmade softie. Shame on Bush for allowing BIG U.S. government to continue and shame on Obama who's intention is to grow it even bigger. Yet another FREEDOM lost.

Margaret's Ramblings said...

It makes you wonder whether the lawmakers ever read what they are signing. It makes you feel so helpless. I just hope the UK government never ever think of going down this track. I hope the people in America can persude the new government to look at this again. Margaret

Acornmoon said...

My son used to make ceramic figures, it was impossible to sell in America because of the lead in the glazes. Meanwhile cars pump out lead in their exhausts and the children breathe it all in.

I don't see the problem with children's books?

ellen said...

This makes no sense, but why am I surprised..after all, I live in this country and have seen stupid and asinine (sp?) laws and regulations go into effect over and over again. Was this started by some idiot who just needed to get a damned life of their own?

Winklepots said...

Thank you so much for helping to spread the word about this poorly written law. It affects us all. Here's hoping it's amended soon to minimize the damage being done.

Acornmoon said...

My husband tells me that cars no longer have lead in their fuel but they do have other dangerous chemicals which the government allows.

I have just got the reference to the animal's rear end! or was that coincidence? Very witty I thought.

Liza said...

This is so, so depressing. Who wants a world full of homogenized, mass produced plastic? It's madness!

Chris.P said...

I thought Obama's government would be more open and less protectionist. He seems he even requested a 'buy American' clause in the recently passed stimulus package. He is clearly drawing a line in the sand concerning trade imports.

jfidz said...

I checked the date and realised this was no April fool. Seems 'Yes we can' has an altogether more sinister meaning than the one I had assumed.

carolyn said...

We have lead free legistlation in the UK already with WEEE & RoHS fortunately this (currently) really only affects electronics. But where will it end?

I hadn't realised that this CPSIA was so far reaching. understnd the need to ensure the safety of childrens toys but are children really going to be "damaged" in anyway by a book? Crazy.

Mlle Miracle said...

It's incredible and a nonsense. Yes, books are dangerous, children can became smart adults who will fight against stupid laws like this!

Amanda and Tim said...

I had absolutely no idea this was happening - guess I should watch/read the news more! I cannot believe it - how can we (by we I mean the world's governments in general) go from one extreme to the other over and over again - when will we find the right balance, the one that most everyday person knows is the sensible option but those people at the top who make these decisions just don't seem to get? Thanks for making me aware of this!

Gail said...

Thanks for bringing this to the attention of your readers ;-) Let's hope it helps!

I am intregued by the picture ... whose tails is that we see?


Unknown said...

I really hope they amend it to exclude natural materials ... it is totally nuts - but really sad more than anything.

Merisi said...

I would be interested to know who sponsered that law!

Btw, for those who think the new administration is working at record speed, this ain't so: The CPSIA was signed into law on August 14, 2008, long before January 20, 2009.

Frances said...

Hello PG,

This is a very interesting post. Living in the States, I have had not heard of this before. I always think of myself as an interested citizen, and a fairly regular reader of newpapers and other media.

Now, I am feeling rather uninformed, and will find time to send some inquiries to my governmental representatives. I guess I also would would how the many toys that reach us via China might be complying with these requirements.

Wishing you and all those unique toys that you create all the best! May these toys find loving homes, and may some of them actually be in the States. xo

Melanie said...

Does this mean we will be seeing your gorgeous works on the black market? will that be the only way we can get good quality toys?
i hope is doesnt all get as depressing as it is sounding.

Elizabeth said...

This sounds quite batty.
The laws of unintended consequences.........so silly.
Example: a doo-gooder went to a Moroccan school for the handicapped where the children were wheeled out into the sunshine of the garden by helpers.
One day a child fell out of a wheelchair but was not seriously hurt.
Regulations were put in place to have 2 helpers per child.
However, they could not afford to hire enough aides so now NONE OF

I think things might be improved now.
But you see what I mean.

Hope you are well.

Word verification

sounds like an adjective describing silly people/

Merisi said...

I felt like you, when I read about this legislation: Lost, uninformed. That this slipped by without me or your ever reading about it, is remarkable. As if they had waved it through on the coattails of some other legislation!
Says one who follows Congress keenly. Or so she thought. :-(

Gwen Buchanan said...

I am so stunned with what is going on... or maybe I should !!!

What is the world turning into!!!