CPSIA - info & my opinions on it...

CPSIA was designed to prevent problems with our children coming in contact with items that do not meet a set of standards for lead and other hazardous material content. However, CPSIA never considered small businesses who rely on their small batch creation, and income to live in many cases. Not only is the economy in the toilet many DIY'ers don't have the money for all of the third party testing that is required under the original un-edited format of the CPSIA.

If you were paying attention at the time this law was first passed, it was written up very fast and passed by the CPSC (Consumer Products Safety Commission) shortly after the round of children's toys and products that were pulled from many store shelves in recent years. The entire lot of toys in question were made in Asia (China to be specific) where testing of any item for use by children is far from safe or reliable. The toys and items came into the US through normal import channels and many were admitted to being purchased by buyers for major retail chains without any regard for the items content in so far as the content may have been harmful to children who would be the end users of the products. The only thing the buyers and the retailers were concerned about was the bottom line and the money flowing into their pockets.

As a result the CPSC moved to make a law that would better protect children here in the US by creating a set of standards to which all products marketed towards children had to follow. The problem was the CPSC failed to take into account the very large and growing subset of the overall market of children's items in the US was and is made by small businesses, who barely have the money to put their small batch items together by hand without hiring hundreds of workers from other countries to do so for them. Their products are handmade, with love in the US (and other countries). CPSIA when it first got introduced had thousands of DIYers and small batch childrens product businesses freaking out. And right they were to freak out.

Basically the act originally stated: (paraphrasing) any product marketed towards children as the end users MUST undergo third party testing of FINAL product for lead and other hazardous material content on EACH item before item is allowed to be sold to the public. This was regardless of the fact that many items made by small businesses marketed towards children are made up of several components known to have no possible way to contain lead or other heavy metals. Yet somehow the CPSIA required testing on final products - because in 'theory' it is possible for a finished item made with components that are 100% lead free to somehow develop lead and other hazardous materials during construction or creation.

Think of a finished toy or childrens item like a recipe for a cake. Several ingredients go into the mix, and a baked cake comes out, in the case of many children's products the ingredients are things like, fabric, yarn, thread, stuffing etc. A small business person assembles pieces of fabric (lead free), strands of thread (lead free), stuffing (lead free), and a set of plastic animal eyes (lead free) into a final product of a stuffed plush animal. According to the CPSIA's original wording - the end resulting plush animal would have to be 3rd party tested for hazardous materials because somehow it is likely that during the creation of the animal it developed a hazardous lead content. You're not baking a stuffed animal its chemical composition isn't changing, its being assembled by hand in the US (in the case of CPSIA only affecting US based businesses).

The wording and the requirements for 3rd party testing on EVERY item made by every small business in the US marketed towards children under 15 years of age as the end user, would potentially bankrupt many small businesses causing them to shut their doors forever and further destroying our fragile economy. Thankfully many people banded together and had gotten a 1 year extention added to the initial date that testing had to begin before products could be sold. And once again we DIY'ers, makers of handmade items (not just children's toys & products but all makers of handmade) are banding together to see that this law gets amended before it fully takes effect and that the parts of the law that apply to small businesses are re-written in a manner that protects both the children its meant to protect in the first place, and the small businesses who make up a large portion of the overall children's product sales in the US.

It would seem that the CPSC really needs to wake up to the fact that if all of the components of any given finished product are lead & hazardous material free to begin with - assuming there is nothing involved that would change any item's chemical components during assembly, then the finished product should not require 3rd party testing. This will save small businesses a lot of money that they already don't have, and put more affordable, handmade, harmless products into the market and available to a public that is desperate to save money anywhere they can.

CPSC and our legislators need to take a good hard look at the act as its written, step back, take it off the table, look at what they're trying to prevent - and that is another large scale epidemic of imported children's products from countries with lax safety standards for hazardous material content in those products, and to realize that US based small businesses are NOT the ones that were to blame in the first place for the string of recalls of imported, mass produced, very hazardous toys & products that caused a lot of illnesses, injuries, potential problems and panic regarding the safety of children's items in the future.

CPSC is an Independent Federal Regulatory Agency. CPSC works to save lives and keep families safe by reducing the risk of injuries and deaths associated with consumer products. We do this by

  • developing voluntary standards with industry
  • issuing and enforcing mandatory standards or banning consumer products if no feasible standard would adequately protect the public
  • obtaining the recall of products or arranging for their repair
  • conducting research on potential product hazards
  • informing and educating consumers through the media, state and local governments, private organizations, and by responding to consumer inquiries 


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