Search Results for ‘cpsia testing’

An Oregon crafter on CPSIA

You might be bitter too:

I called the lab, got the quote and did the math. CPSIA-mandated testing costs for my little product line was over $27,000 for just over $30,000 worth of product. I cannot express the horrible feeling I had when I realized that I had made a mistake that was going to cost my family all of our money. …

I blame every one of the Energy and Commerce legislative staffers.

— Jolie Fay, crafter, SkippingHippos.com, guest post, AmendTheCPSIA.com

SeeSawa

PUBLIC DOMAIN IMAGE from Ethel Everett, illustrator, Nursery Rhymes (1900), courtesy ChildrensLibrary.org.

Capsized by CPSIA

Dallas entrepreneur Phebe Phillips tells in this speech (PDF) why she had to get out of her successful plush animal business:

Then in 2008 and 2009 the U.S. economy tanked … retail dwindled and a new toy regulation was enacted in response to the poor quality and mass quantity oversights by some really big toy companies. BadMrsGinger4bThis new law raises the testing price for each product and in some cases, doubles or triples the costs. For some small companies, it can cost one year of total revenue just to meet the requirements of this law. The law is for any product marketed to a child age twelve and under and for any product made anywhere…even here. It has frozen many small and midsize companies leaving the companies that caused the problems in the first place as some of the only companies that can afford to stay in business. Financially, it caused me to temporarily halt my business…I changed!

Via Amend the CPSIA, which had this report on Phillips in December; earlier on CPSIA and stuffed animals here and here.

Consumer Product Safety Commission member Anne Northup has also been blogging about some of the law’s ongoing damaging effects on sellers of dolls, kids’ furniture and apparel imports.

PUBLIC DOMAIN IMAGE from Honor C. Appleton, The Bad Mrs. Ginger (Frederick A. Stokes Co., 1902), courtesy ChildrensLibrary.org.

CPSIA: hearing set for tomorrow on proposed legislative fix

Readers of this site will recall that as reports rolled in last year of the calamitous effects of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, the Congressional leadership, and in particular key lawmaker Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) steadfastly refused to hold hearings or in general acknowledge that the law was causing systematic ill effects of any sort. As resale outlets across the nation swept harmless winter coats from their shelves or stopped dealing in kids’ goods entirely; BadMrsGinger1bas librarians warned that whole collections of pre-1985 books would need to be either put through prohibitively expensive testing or simply discarded; as makers, importers and sellers of perfectly harmless apparel, school supplies, furniture, musical instruments and other children’s items puzzled over ruinously high testing costs and bans on common materials like brass; as smaller, craft-oriented producers began folding, leaving the market to be served by the largest mass-production toymakers and retailers (many of which had supported the legislation); as the kids’ motor vehicle industry, including makers and sellers of dirtbikes and mini-ATVs, found itself transformed overnight into outlaws; even as all this unfolded, Henry Waxman and his counterparts on the Senate side kept the lid clamped down tight on any Capitol Hill airing of such woes. Eventually Waxman held a hearing with exactly one (1) witness, Obama-appointed CPSC chairperson Inez Tenenbaum, who sought to put the best face on the law. (After a false start, a House small business committee lacking actual legislative jurisdiction was also allowed to hold a more varied hearing.)

In recent months, without of course admitting any error whatsoever, representatives of Waxman’s office have been quietly floating amendments intended to correct some of CPSIA’s most blatantly impractical elements. The fixes would be likely to help in some specific areas where opposition has been vocal and influential, BadMrsGinger2bsuch as children’s books and mini-vehicles, while affording much less relief, or none at all, to many others trying to cope with the law. At the same time, Waxman’s staff has been demanding that “business” (conceived as if it were some monolithic group) gratefully sign off on the fix as acceptable and perhaps even accept new provisions that would increase CPSIA burdens. While many affected groups are understandably eager to reach a deal, others, such as persistent critic and businessman-blogger Rick Woldenberg, are reluctant to sign off on obviously partial and inadequate fixes as if were going to solve the wider problems with the law.

The fixer amendment has gone through several iterations; its current draft is here (PDF), named the Consumer Product Safety Enhancement Act of 2010, or CPSEA (more background from the committee, PDF, via ShopFloor). Now, at long last, Waxman has agreed to hold a hearing tomorrow (to be chaired by his colleague Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill.). The witness list includes persons from Goodwill Industries, the National Association of Manufacturers, Handmade Toy Alliance, and the Motorcycle Industry Council — all of which groups have apparently agreed to support the legislation — as well as Rick Woldenberg of Learning Resources Inc., who continues as a critic, and Steve Levy of the American Apparel and Footwear Association. Of course the difference now, and the reason some of these groups at long last will get their chance to testify, is that they have agreed to testify at least nominally on Waxman’s and Rush’s side — perhaps in some cases while biting their tongues.

We’ll be reporting more in days to come. In the mean time, this would make a good occasion for news organizations to renew their attention to the public policy disaster that CPSIA has wrought.

PUBLIC DOMAIN IMAGES from Honor C. Appleton, The Bad Mrs. Ginger (Frederick A. Stokes Co., 1902), courtesy ChildrensLibrary.org.

CPSIA and the needle arts

Overlooked from a couple of months back:

The National NeedleArts Association (TNNA) recently sent a letter to members about how the U.S. Consumer Protection Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) of October 2009 directly affects how the needlework and crafts industries sell their goods, particularly to children. LuxKnittingBook

“We cannot suddenly say that our products are ‘not for use by children 12 and under’ and still try to teach children to knit, crochet, needlepoint and cross stitch,” states the letter, which was sent by TNNA’s five-member CPSIA committee. “We can’t say children 12 and under are only allowed to use certain tools but not others and still expect them to take needlearts seriously. We must involve ourselves and our businesses in the effort to amend this poorly written, misguided legislation and keep it from destroying our businesses.”

The CPSC has promulgated exemptions for simple textiles and some other materials, which has certainly been better than nothing, but many other innocuous tools and materials used in needle crafting must be either kept off limits to younger crafters or put through onerous testing regimens. [Positive Yarn]

The New York Times finally reports on CPSIA

[Bumped Monday a.m. for readers who missed it over the weekend]

The piece appears in the business section of Saturday’s Times, and it’s a perfectly good one as far as it goes. It starts off with a wooden toy maker in Ogunquit, Maine, who estimates that it would cost him $30,000 to secure testing for the 80 items he makes, using such materials as maple, walnut oil and local beeswax. It touches on the strains between large and small manufacturers, nytimesas well as the thrift-store and vintage-book angles. Overall, it’s really not a bad piece of its sort.

Aside from its timing, that is. The Times has now gotten around to covering some of the harm done by this law ten months after the Washington Post and other media had begun reporting the basic outlines of the story; nine and a half months after a furor had built to national proportions, prompting both members of Congress and the CPSC to hurry out supposed clarifications; nine months after hundreds of bloggers were on the case, the law’s effects on thrift stores were making headlines from coast to coast, and the Times’s continuing failure to report on the law’s effects had commentators noting its “weird blind spot” on the issue; eight and a half months after a deeply clueless Times editorial assailed critics of the law who The Times wakes up“foment needless fears that the law could injure smaller enterprises like libraries, resale shops and handmade toy businesses”; seven and a half months after protests by minibike dealers began drawing wide national coverage; seven months after critics rallied on Capitol Hill, and the Washington Post joined in reporting on the law’s dire effects on vintage (pre-1985) kids’ books; and so on to the present.

Okay, so the Times was — well, not a day late and a dollar short, but more like 300 days late and many billions of dollars in overlooked costs short. Still, let’s be grateful: the paper’s news side has now implicitly rebuked the editorial side’s fantastic, ideologically blinkered dismissal of “needless fears that the law could injure smaller enterprises”. And the Times’s belated acknowledgment of the story can serve as permission for other sectors of the media dependent on Times coverage — including some magazines and network news departments — to acknowledge at last the legitimacy of the story and begin according serious attention to the continuing CPSIA calamity. When they do, they will find much to catch up on. (& welcome Handmade Toy Alliance, Chris Fountain readers)

PUBLIC DOMAIN IMAGE from Ethel Everett, illustrator, Nursery Rhymes (1900), courtesy ChildrensLibrary.org.

CPSIA: “The Waiting Game Continues for Libraries”

Karen Raugust, Publisher’s Weekly, on some recent clarification (not exactly relief) for makers and sellers of new books under the Draconian law:

The Consumer Products Safety Commission recently issued a final lead rule that deemed many—but not all—of the components in ordinary children’s books safe. …

Most ink-on-paper and ink-on-board books will not have to undergo testing under various CPSC rulings. (Some so-called “ordinary” books, such as those with gold foil or spiral bindings, must be tested, and big retailers may require testing even when the CPSIA doesn’t.) All novelty and book-plus formats for children 12 and under must be tested by independent labs.

SpiderMean2However, the CPSC has yet to issue promised guidance to libraries on pre-1985 books:

Thom Barthelmess, president of the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, says most librarians are waiting to see what happens. “We’re hoping for a happy resolution, so our collections aren’t decimated,” he says. If the CPSC’s ruling results in libraries needing to pull books from shelves, “there would be huge ramifications,” he continues. “If we lose a lot of titles printed before 1986, many of which are irreplaceable, it would have a huge impact on the nature of our collections.”

We’ve linked the coverage in Publisher’s Weekly several times over the course of the year but overlooked this report from March:

Most booksellers are now comfortable selling ordinary paper children’s books printed in 1986 and beyond. …

Half Price [Half Price Books, a large chain] removed all book-plus items from the shelves in every store and is warehousing them while it researches how to dispose of them in a safe and environmentally sound way, perhaps at a hazardous waste site.

And an official of the Independent Online Booksellers Association told PW in March that most members of the association were positioning their vintage children’s books as adult collectibles, which supposedly reduces legal risk, though as we noted in February, “the law provides that [retailers] are liable if they sell a product which will commonly be understood as destined for use by children, whether or not they label it as such.” Deputy Headmistress in February and Valerie Jacobsen in March also explained more about the practical drawbacks of the “relabel as collectibles” dodge, as has Elizabeth Mullaney Nicol more recently.

P.S. And welcome listeners at Hartford’s WTIC, where host Ray Dunaway had me as a guest on his show this morning to discuss the law. You’ll find much more here.

PUBLIC DOMAIN GRAPHIC: Edith Brown, illustrator, Jeannette Marks, The Cheerful Cricket and Others (1907), courtesy The Children’s Library.

CPSIA chronicles, September 12

  • On Thursday Henry Waxman’s House Commerce Committee finally held its long-promised hearing on the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, the first such hearing by a committee with legislative jurisdiction since the calamitous law went into effect in February. TomTomPipersSon2(The Small Business Committee, a panel with no legislative authority over the law, had gone first.) As noted last week, Thursday’s virtually dissent-free event hardly counted as much of a hearing, since Waxman turned down all pleas to allow testimony from actual affected businesses or other critics or victims of the law. Instead he called as his single witness recently appointed CPSC chair Inez Tenenbaum, who hewed closely to the line he (Waxman) wished to hear. A Washington Times editorial is appropriately scathing, and Rick Woldenberg has much more about the committee majority’s finger-in-ears response to the broad outcry over the law. Ranking Republican Joe Barton (R-Texas), who supported the law’s passage, did say that “we have all been inundated” with constituent messages about its ill consequences. The Handmade Toy Alliance has published the statement that Jill Chuckas of Crafty Baby would have made if invited to testify (more).
  • In an August 26 WSJ letter to the editor, Eric Havill of Branchport, N.Y. observes that Congress’s refusal to fix the law “is, if possible, even more irresponsible than the original legislation.”
  • By a unanimous vote, the CPSC recently confirmed that Mattel, the giant toymaker whose many recalls helped touch off the lead-in-toys panic in the first place, has qualified for an exemption from third-party (outside lab) testing of its products under CPSIA, and can instead test in its own in-house labs. Of course, most of Mattel’s competitors are less fortunate and do not operate on a scale that will make such an exemption feasible. The exemption for “firewalled” in-house labs, deemed by one critic a “hall pass,” was something Mattel obtained through intense lobbying back when the law was under consideration. Like the other giant in the business, Hasbro, Mattel actively lobbied for CPSIA’s passage, and even as the law has brought undreamt-of woe to thousands of smaller producers of kids’ products, the two big companies seem to be doing rather well under it. More: Timothy Carney, Washington Examiner; Brad Warbiany, Liberty Papers; Christopher Taylor, Word Around the Net. Other reactions to the exemption: Holly Jahangiri, Rick Woldenberg, Ed Morrissey/Hot Air (“one of the companies that created the problem in the first place has gotten a waiver”), Katherine Mangu-Ward/Reason (“Mattel now has a cost advantage on mandatory testing, and a handy new government-sponsored barrier to entry for its competitors”), Handmade Toy Alliance.
  • AlphabetRSTTurkeys

  • What’s going to replace forbidden phthalates in kids’ products now that CPSIA has banned them? Probably alternative plasticizing chemicals about which we know less, notes Andrew Langer in Roll Call.
  • It’s old news, of course, that the CPSC asserts the power to go after eBay and Craigslist sellers, church bazaars, homeowners who hold yard sales and other sellers of used items that do not comply with CPSIA and other safety standards (although evidence is very sparse that most members of Congress actually realized the law would reach sales of those kinds.) Last month the CPSC saw fit to announce “Resale Roundup”, a new crackdown on secondhand sales. It also revised its book of guidance for resellers, in ways Rick Woldenberg finds less than enlightening. Discussion: Adler/Volokh, Ed Morrissey/Hot Air (“What did we ever do before the CPSIA protected the US through its throngs of federal nannies? How did we ever survive garage sales in the past 233 years?”), Washington Times (“from yard sales to jail cells”), Katherine Mangu-Ward/Reason, John Stossel, Deputy Headmistress/Common Room (“Remember when Congress assured us that the little guys had NOTHING to worry about with the CPSIA because they weren’t going to come after us? They. Lied.”) On the brighter side, McClatchy’s James Rosen quotes spokesperson Scott Wolfson as saying the commission isn’t planning to seek admittance to inspect private homes and garages to enforce the law. So be thankful for small favors.

PUBLIC DOMAIN IMAGES from Ethel Everett, illustrator, Nursery Rhymes (1900), and (illustrator not known) Farm Yard ABC (c. 1880), both courtesy ChildrensLibrary.org.

CPSIA on the rocks

YankeeMGboy2As noted earlier in this space, many ordinary rocks — you know, the kind you kick with your foot — flunk the exceedingly stringent lead limits in the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. And that’s not all, as Rick Woldenberg relates:

… if foolish educational companies want to sell rocks to schools or for inclusion in educational kits sold in toy stores, they must now test the rocks not only for lead but also for sharp points. Yes, rocks with sharp points need to be restricted under ASTM F963 for children aged eight years old or younger. The CPSC has yet to issue guidance to millions of curious Americans on how to manage this exposure when walking to the park or playing catch with the dog in the backyard. …

Is there a testing standard for rocks in the head? Is the concern lead, sharp points or that irritating rattling noise?

Per the Woldenberg entry we linked in May, “Michael Warring of American Educational Products reports that a school opted to stop using AmEP’s rocks to teach Earth Science and will instead rely on a POSTER.”

PUBLIC DOMAIN IMAGE from Benjamin Cobb, Yankee Mother Goose (Ella Brison, illustrator), courtesy ChildrensLibrary.org.

CPSIA: miscellaneous reading

Commentaries from various quarters on the dreadful child-safety law:

    GooseyParlorBrooke2

  • “Hope and change — and children’s books” [Michael Barone, D.C. Examiner; note however that the law at present does not allow for general enforcement by private lawyers] More on kids’ books: Morton Goldberg, “Inoculated”; Books Bikes Boomsticks (“I don’t think I’ve ever felt quite the quiver of rage I felt” on learning of book angle); Deputy Headmistress (reacting to that post); Grad Student Madness (waiting for the black market to spring up in vintage kids’ books). Esther at Reader’s Loft has drawn up some decision flow charts that may help in determining whether a particular kids’ book needs expensive testing under the law. And “If Your Kid Eats This Book, Everything Will Still Be Okay” — that’s the title of a new book offering child health advice, not a CPSIA critique [ER Stories]
  • “Lead-footed safety issues” [Carter Wood, Washington Times] And let’s hope Washington Post editors take the time to read their own paper [same at ShopFloor]
  • Lenore Skenazy, “The risk of avoiding all risk” [The Post Chronicle; see also Rick Woldenberg]. Related: “More toys from our youth that’d be illegal today” [Doug Ross] And you just know this one’s European, not U.S. [Berg Toys “Moov”]
  • GooseyParlorBrookeSequel2

  • Suppose Congress had never passed CPSIA — what would be the actual risk that your child would suffer lead poisoning from his dirtbike or other playthings? Essentially zero, as Rick Woldenberg explains in a post from this spring somehow unlinked before now. Indeed, ordinary dirt, which kids have been known to get on their hands and faces from time to time, contains higher concentrations of naturally occurring lead than many of the products whose makers have been hard hit by the law. Likewise, Deputy Headmistress explodes a few myths of CPSIA proponents. And what’s this about infinitesimal residues in children’s vitamins being (no doubt correctly) deemed safe by the federal government?
  • Finally, the valuable site What Is the CPSIA, which is organized as a sort of FAQ to answer common questions about the law, has added substantially to its content in recent weeks and well repays a repeat visit.

PUBLIC DOMAIN IMAGES from Leslie Brooke, illustrator, Oranges and Lemons: A Nursery Rhyme Picture Book (1913), courtesy ChildrensLibrary.org.