CPSIA chronicles, February 12


  • Virginia Postrel, who understands both the world of design and the world of ideas, has one of the best pieces yet on the law at her Dynamist blog. “Not since the early 1970s, has ‘regulation’–the general idea, not a specific proposal–seemed so alluring.” And this particular regulation? “It’s completely nuts”. Deploring the general blackout on the story across large sectors of the media, she also has kind words for the “exemplary” coverage found in certain other places. (Thanks!) Read the whole thing.
  • “We stopped selling over 1,000 items today because of CPSIA. No other online Catholic stores appear to be aware of the law.” [proprietor of Aquinas and More; earlier]
  • Dilemma for overseas makers of children’s items: find tactful way to announce ban on sales to U.S. customers [Etsy thread]
  • Trust us, they said: per columnist Glenn Cook with the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Majority Leader Harry Reid’s staff assured constituent Molly Orr “that some sort of broader fix is forthcoming”. Oh, well, then we can all relax. In the mean time, Congress refused to consider the reform proposal by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) during the stimulus debate, and Public Citizen gloats.
  • State attorneys general and CPSIA: they’ve got wide powers.
  • To understand how we could wind up with a law as bad as this, it helps to keep an eye on the pronouncements of CPSC Commissioner Thomas Moore — you know, the one whose resignation Congressional leaders are not demanding. Rick Woldenberg nicely skewers some of the vacuities in Moore’s public statements, including an expression of irritation that compliance with the law by February 10 was proving unfeasible given that “certain Hill staffers were assured by various segments of the children’s product industry, that there would NOT BE A PROBLEM with meeting the 600ppm standard”. (For sure, that should have settled it! It’s not as if anyone deals in children’s products who didn’t have a lobbyist present.) And in the comments section on our vintage-books post, Valerie Jacobsen points to a Moore letter of Feb. 3 (PDF) in which he proposes that some undetermined proportion of children’s books printed before 1985 “should be sequestered” until more is learned about their possible health effects. Wow.
  • Where do reporters Jayne O’Donnell and Liz Szabo of USA Today get the idea that foes of CPSIA “have given up fighting the need for” the law and instead are now just begging exemptions? I agree with Deputy Headmistress, the newspaper seems just to be “pulling this claim out of thin air“.
  • Okay, so phthalates are going to be taken out of the mix for playthings and child care goods, just to be on the safe side. What’s going to replace them, and are those replacements going to be more or less safe than phthalates were? For more on the tendency to substitute one risk for another, Google “MTBE” or “Tris” “sleepwear” or “cyclamates” “saccharin” “comparative risk”;
  • Per Carrie Lundell, the new CPSC guidelines will permit crafters of kids’ clothing to pursue their dream freely so long as the garments have no closures or embellishments of any kind. Caftans all around! More comic relief, if you call it that: Jon Stewart “Daily Show” forum, “Fenrislorsrai” and commenters (“If your 12 year old is eating lightbulbs out of a microscope, you have more serious issues.”); Smothering Parents of America Association video, DollarMovies at YouTube;
  • Blog treatment includes more from John Holbo at Crooked Timber, several posts at Popehat, Wacky Hermit on Thoreau and unjust laws, Charles Kuffner/Off the Kuff, Scholars and Rogues, Executive Pagan, Scott Greenfield;
  • A reminder: if you’re just catching up with the story, our full archive of CPSIA coverage is here. If you’d rather listen — and don’t mind something a couple of weeks old, which therefore doesn’t take into account some newer developments like the last-minute stay on enforcement of testing — With Love Designs recommends a “great podcast about the CPSIA – explains it in terms I understand.” (Aw.)

Image courtesy ShopFloor.


  • Dilemma for overseas makers of children’s items: find tactful way to announce ban on sales to U.S. customers

    Why be tactful?

    “Dear Americans: Your f—— idiot Congress has made it essentially impossible for us to ship anything to your country. Congratulations.”

  • […] will be familiar to those who read Tuesday’s post at this site, as well as yesterday’s mention of CPSC commissioner Thomas Moore’s call last week (PDF) for some undefinedly large share of […]

  • Thanks so much for consistently and accurately updating us on the CPSIA debacle, you’re my number one resource!

    I am one of the international sellers that posted in the Etsy thread about how to react to the law. Not that many smaller-scale sellers here in the UK were very aware of the CPSIA and how it might affect their business in the US so I’ve been doing my best to get the word out.
    On 10 Feb I removed 75% of my inventory from my Etsy shop (anything with zippers, plastic buttons and snaps). It just wasn’t worth the risk.

    If you’re interested, here’s my blog post about it: http://kitschycoo.blogspot.com/2009/02/todays-big-day-cpsia-is-here.html

  • […] not as if Wolfson was making things up here. As readers will recall, one of the two CPSC commissioners, Thomas Moore, called weeks ago for some undefinedly large share […]

  • […] into several areas of the law, and which Congress (under pressure from Public Citizen and others) refused to incorporate into the stimulus package; and S. 389, a bill introduced by Sen. Robert Bennett (R-Utah) “to […]

  • […] whatever steps are necessary [emphasis added] to ensure this phthalate ban is enforced”); Feb. 12 (what ingredients in playthings are going to replace phthalates, and are those ingredients going to […]