Thursday, March 26, 2009

How Did We Lose Our Common Sense?

The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) is a law that was passed last year and went into effect in February of 2009 for products manufactured after November 12, 2008. Such an outcry has resulted that a minimal version of the law is currently being enforced, with more the stringent requirements to follow in August. At that time the lead paint limit for products intended for children under 12 will be lowered from the current 600 ppm to 90 ppm. At the present time, third-party testing for currently effective limits of lead by an accredited third-party is required for products manufactured after December 21, 2008. To learn more about this act, go to the official website of the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s CPSIA site at .

The CPSIA happened partly in reaction to the toys, jewelry and other items imported from China containing lead and pthalates and partly because of the U.S. Government’s ever-increasing recalls of dangerous toys in the recent past. Make no mistake, the last thing we ever need is dangerous toys for our babies and children. Yes, we need to be assured that imported and mass-produced items contain no harmful substances that would make children sick or harm them.

On the other hand, and considering that lead and children have co-existed in the world for a very long time, most of us who are breathing right now are not aware of having suffered any ill consequences from it. No one denies that children have been harmed from eating or chewing on items that have been painted with lead or contain lead; however, in historical terms it is a relatively recent discovery that lead harms children. Lead-based wall paint was taken off of the market in the USA for that reason. It is incomprehensible to us now that anyone would still be painting toys with lead-containing paint; however, the government felt it had to strengthen the laws because products containing lead did get into our children’s hands.

But this act takes protection to the absurd, and it is hitting the small producer of handmade items for children extremely hard, because it requires testing that is way too expensive for them to do. Why not require the original manufacturer of the goods or at the very least the importer to test and not the middleman who bought the goods to make their products from? As an example, I just cannot believe anyone ever intended that the home sewer of baby dresses or crocheted booties should be the victims of this ridiculous legislation. Why not require the maker of the yarn or the buttons or the fabric used to make a garment to do the testing instead?

To me, one of the most absurd facets of this law is that old books printed prior to 1985 contain lead in the printed type and that those books should be destroyed. Talk about a total overreaction: this is just incomprehensible. Libraries, already short on funding, are falling under the law’s requirements to have old books “intended” for use by children either tested by third-parties or destroyed. If this were a valid requirement, then all of us who learned how to read prior to 1985 would be morons staggering in the streets, clutching at our throats with our eyes popping out from the deadly lead in the type of our textbooks and all of the other vintage books we read in our lifetimes.

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