Jan 14, 2009

Act to Bring Reform to the Negative Effects of the CPSIA Lead-Testing Regulations

I'm asking that as many people as possible circulate the following information via e-mail ASAP to reach as many people as possible. Thanks for your help if you are so inclined.

This is important to note: The following information is in no way a call to reform the current Consumer Product Safety Information Act legislation in a way that promotes harm to, encourages harm to, or ignores those who do in fact harm our children by way of lead-tainted or phthalate-tainted products. I no more wish harm to my children in any way, shape, or form via exposure to harmful products than you do. Once you are sure you have an understanding of this, please continue reading on, and if you find yourself in agreement, I ask that you cut/copy and paste the letter at the end or write your own covering any of the below topics that concern you personally and send it onto your congressman/woman and senators to help save small business from the CPSIA. Please also take a moment to read the “What You Can Do” section.

Raise your hand if you thought “Well, it’s about time someone protected our kids from this idiocy!”—Me raising my hand. As usual, there’s much more to it.

February 10, 2009, is being called National Bankruptcy Day. Companies with hundreds of thousands and even millions of dollars worth of inventory will see their current inventory become illegal on February 10, 2009. They cannot possibly afford testing of all current inventory. Stores are also prohibited from selling any untested goods in their existing inventory as well. See: National Bankruptcy Day

The current CPSIA wording is too broad and will actually hinder American-based innovation and close small businesses due to testing and retesting on the same product components at various stages of the manufacturing process, the destruction of one-of-a-kind items, unnecessary testing on items unlikely to contain lead in the first place, and due to the exorbitant costs involved with testing multi-component items.

This country desperately needs to promote and encourage innovation and small business rather than making it difficult. Small business drives our economy. Many of these small businesses’ products were created as THE healthy and safe alternative that the business owners wished to have available to their own children, an alternative to the very products that were harmful. The legislation, as it is currently worded, throws countless more businesses “under the bus” equating to many more economic casualties than presently.

The CPSIA is a piece of legislature drawn up quickly in response to the lead-tainted products infiltrating our borders from China last year. As with most quickly-formed Acts, the big picture and the ripple effects of enacting this law will result in undesirable and far-reaching negative consequences for ALL of us—those with and withOUT children – US as CONSUMERS and our economy.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission, which has good reason to be content right now, does not seem to be worried about the consequences to business or the ripple effects. Their budget was increased from $80 million in FY ‘08 to an authorization of $118 million in FY ’10, and the Commission is to receive $20 million to modernize its testing laboratory according to my Congressman’s website here.

An example of a product that will become illegal to sell on February 10, 2009, as innocuous as they are (as this would require 2 tests, costing around $300-$500 total, for the 2 different color yarns)from Curious-workmanship.com

Even the rubber stamps I bought for each of my kids, ages 11, 9, and 3, last summer to participate in a community scavenger hunt to stamp their books as we founds clues will be outlawed. As if I would dare dream of leaving a 3-year-old alone with an ink-covered stamp, let alone long enough for him to eat one.

Below is a list of the reasons revisions are needed to this piece of legislation, while still protecting our children by way of certification:

Is this a matter of someone trying to buck the system by whining about not being able to afford testing? Is it a case of Americans wanting perfection until it is expected of them as business owners, and at a cost? Is it a matter of American businesses being unconcerned about lead exposure in relation to our children? No, not at all.

“Small business drives the American economy,” said Dr. Chad Moutray, Chief Economist for the Office of Advocacy. “Main Street provides the jobs and spurs our economic growth. American entrepreneurs are creative and productive, and these numbers prove it.” and “Small business drives the U.S. economy by providing jobs for over half of the private workforce.” and “Office of Advocacy funded data and research shows that small businesses represent 99.7 percent of all firms, they create more than half of the private non-farm gross domestic product, and they create 60 to 80 percent of the net new jobs.” For a full statement view this article from the Small Business Administration. Many small businesses are entrepreneurial work-at-home crafters, artisans offering one-of-a-kind/unique items from clothing to furniture, specialty manufacturers, low volume specialty items for the blind, deaf, and disabled markets, and specialty educational items, as well as entrepreneurial innovators bringing new products to market.

Most of these companies purchase the components that they will assemble into a product of their own from other manufacturers who are required to test their goods for compliance before they sell them to the manufacturer. The manufacturer forming a product made from 5 other components, even those components that have already passed compliance testing, will be required to test them again, although individually now all at their expense. If a decorative T-shirt comes in 3 sizes – 1 of each size, and all of its components, must be tested. If they offered something as simple as towels in multiple patterns or multiple colors, each pattern and each color on the same item must be tested, as would the thread, any appliques, dyes used, etc. These companies tend to have smaller manufacturing runs of goods, with each run requiring testing, per component. One-of-a-kind products cannot be tested without being destroyed—it’s a one-of-a-kind product! Work-at-home parents with products to offer such as cloth diapers, crafters, artisans, and entrepreneurs who are inventing things such as new infant towels or burp cloths, as well as many other child-related products, planning on manufacturing on their own to get a start to pay for larger manufacturing runs will now not be able to afford testing whatsoever to get that start.

Part 1 Video

Part 2 Video

Part 3 Video

POSSIBLE SOLUTION TO REDUNDANT TESTING ON THE SAME COMPONENTS OF A PRODUCT ALREADY DEEMED COMPLIANT ONCE AT THE FIRST POINT OF SALE: Allow the use of certified components and component testing without retesting. Set the system up to promote compliance rather than assuming all products are tainted by dividing products that are compliant and those that are not. In the case of the business who wants to source products to make decorative T-shirts or Jeans with decorative threads, colors, dyes, snaps, zippers, patches, or appliques, allow them to easily choose a manufacturer who offers either “Certified Lead Free” materials or items identified as “Meets CPSIA Lead Standards.” (Did you know zipper pulls and metal snaps are already tested for lead? Why test them again just because someone used them on their product when that person made it a point to buy that component already meeting or exceeding the standards?) This manufacturer can then label their product accordingly, indicating which components meet or exceed the standards. Same for the paint that the furniture manufacturer chooses—why should they retest a paint that has already been through and passed the certification process?

The risk of making the end manufacturer responsible for proving their end product is compliant is that not all source manufacturers will be honest about whether or not their component is compliant – how is the end manufacturer supposed to know without testing PRIOR to assembling their product in the first place? Will they be able to get that $50,000 they just spent on that source material back from the supplier that turned out to in fact not be compliant? As the law is worded now, the $100,000 fines for noncompliance and federal prison terms will be directed at the end manufacturer of the end product, i.e. the wood-worker who thought he bought some compliant paint with which to paint his furniture, not the manufacturer of the sourced component, i.e. snaps, zippers, paints, dyes, or appliques.

THE “BUTTERFLY EFFECT/JOB LOSSES ACROSS THE SUPPLY CHAIN: Manufacturers of children’s products have clients, which are the retail stores, online stores, and boutiques. When they are forced to close down, their clients (the retails stores, online stores, and boutiques) will have less options for product replacement to keep their stores competitive, so they in turn may be forced to cut back or close down. The manufacturers also purchase their source materials from other manufacturers, and with fewer orders from them, prices will rise and there will be further job cuts and cut backs. This results in loss of jobs and business closures across the supply chain. These manufacturers and retailers also retain the services of accountants, web designers, advertising firms, marketing firms, public relations firms, etc.—more loss.

MORE EXPENSIVE PRODUCTS/DIMINISHED PRODUCT CHOICES/LIMITED PRODUCT AVAILABILITY: Not only will the source manufacturer who already tests their products to be CPSIA compliant have to raise their prices to cover their overhead, so will the end manufacturer utilizing those materials to form their own product, either both before and after they manufacture—once to ensure the materials they purchased are in fact compliant, but again to prove to the CPSC that each component of their product is in fact compliant—or after. This means you could possibly be looking at double to triple the overhead increase in pricing you currently pay. This does not take into account the overhead increases in the cost of doing business from higher insurance premiums to protect against the destruction of items should a mistake be made and noncompliance is the ruling, if even a mistake, the extensive legal fees involved in fighting such a battle, the $100,000 fines and possible federal prison terms involved, etc. As jobs are lost and companies cut back, prices will go up from Point A to Point B.

DIGESTIVE TESTING=DESTRUCTION: The term “digestive testing” refers to the fact that the testing process itself can destroy the very products being tested. One-of-a-kind and unique products will not survive. THE ANSWER: XRF testing should be adequate to test for lead content, a nondestructive testing process, and if the product fails this testing, then, and only then, should it be moved into the digestive testing category.

ELIMINATE OR REDUCE TESTING ON ITEMS THAT POSE NO REAL THREAT: Testing should focus on those items that usually contain lead and offer exposure hazards such as metal zipper pulls, pearl-looking or opalescent buttons, vinyl (often stabilized with lead), crystals, and paint—things that children can actually touch that infer exposure from hand-to-mouth actions or that they may actually ingest, but not items such as: wood, papers, undyed fabrics, etc., which currently also fall into the products requiring testing.

SAY GOODBYE TO CRAFT SHOWS/FAIRS: Independent crafters of items such as pageant gowns, flower girl dresses, decorative little girl outfits for dressup, books, homemade items, crafts, wall art, etc. will not be able to afford testing to prove compliance, as they sell in very small volume. It will be illegal for them to sell those items, unless they could prove the component materials they used were in fact compliant instead.

DONATIONS TO CHARITY AND SECOND-HAND SHOPS: While the CPSIA legislation was recently amended to exempt these types of resale shops and charitable organizations, they also included wording indicating these people should avoid selling any items known to contain high levels of lead or suspected items – how can they tell? How do they avoid making a VERY costly mistake? The answer to many is to go out of business entirely. The risk is too great.

ANTIQUE/TOY COLLECTORS: E-bay and collectors groups everywhere will be prohibited from selling antique items geared for children age 12 and under and antique collectible toys unless they are tested. Since testing can destroy the items…..

LIBRARIES/BOOK STORES, INCLUDING SCHOOL AND PUBLIC: Are currently attempting to get clarification as well. They will either have to scrap every book on their shelves or refuse to admit or sell to anyone under the age of 12.


BRIEF BACKGROUND/HISTORY ON CPSC & RESTRICTIONS ON LEAD: Here’s an article indicating the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission made it illegal in 1978 to use any paint containing more than 0.06 percent lead for residential structures, hospitals, and children's products. – so why are we having this issue today? Due to lack of enforcement capabilities or subpar testing compliance protocols? How are they going to accommodate the huge chunk of goods requiring testing today? Is the answer to simply put most small business out of business? See: Why Add Lead Paint to Anything?

“Small businesses – defined by the government as having 500 or fewer workers – are a key portion of the country's commerce food chain. They account for more than 99 percent of all employer firms, according to federal statistics, pay nearly 45 percent of the country's private payroll and produce almost a third of the nation's export value.

That means when they hurt, everyone feels the pain. Closures affect communities, where friends are co-workers and customers, and the cost-cutting creates a hard-to-stop cycle. Charitable donations wilt. Storefronts sit empty. Cities and towns get less tax revenue, and have to cut their budgets. And people wind up spending even less as those who are unemployed – or those who worry they will be – trim their own budgets at the expense of other businesses, large and small.
While falling sales and the credit crunch have made headlines, the small business owners left standing are facing problems as varied as the businesses they run. Manufacturing is slowing. Layoffs are looming. Financing is hard, if not impossible, to come by. Vendors are being skittish about extending credit for inventory. Rents are rising. And profits are falling – or vanishing altogether as sales slip.
”See full article here.

Article describing negative effects when small businesses fail.


1. Register at Change.org, wait for your confirmation e-mail, go back via the link or by copying and pasting the link into your browser and then login. Click the white Ideas link at the top right corner of the screen and then click the Top Rated Ideas link lower on the page. Choose to vote for the “Save Small Business from the CPSIA”. Hurry on this one though. Voting ends tomorrow, Thursday, January 15.

2. Write your United States Congressman and your senator and share your concerns. You can use the sample letter in #4 and tweak it to make it your own or formulate your own letter. You can locate the name, address, and telephone number for your congressman here and by typing your zip code into the “My Elected Officials” box to the left of your screen. When the results appear, you want to contact the person listed under Representative for your congress person, and the state senators are listed accordingly.

3. Contact the Consumer Product Safety Commission here backing up the changes recommended by the National Association of Manufacturers 15-page plan, which can be viewed here.

Sample: I would like to see component testing mandated at the level a manufacturer, crafter, small business, independent artisan, or entrepreneur can purchase CPSIA-compliant materials that meet or exceed the new standards rather than seeing the end-manufacturer utilizing those components have to retest them again. I do not want prices to unnecessarily rise due to redundant and unnecessary testing. I feel that one-of-a-kind items should also be eligible for XRF testing rather than digestive testing procedures, and I would like to see less resources put toward the testing of items that pose no real lead-exposure risks, such as wood, paper, and undyed fabrics.

4. Write a letter to your local paper, see sample below:

In 2007, large toy manufacturers who outsourced their production to China violated the public's trust - selling toys with dangerous lead content, toys with unsafe small parts, and toys that made kids sick.

The Congress passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) in 2008, which bans lead and phthalates in any item geared toward children ages 12 and under that also requires permanent labels on each item with a date and batch number. This even includes goods known to not contain lead such as paper, wood, and undyed fabrics, threads, yarns, etc. Small business cannot afford to retool equipment to accommodate this demand for multi-component items for each run.

The far-reaching impact of the new CPSIA legislation wording is so broad that it means many negative things on the horizon for us over and above simply feeling relief that our children are finally being looked after, which admittedly was my first thought, being the mother of 3 children.

Everyone needs to write their congressman and state representatives expressing that the wording be narrowed so that unnecessary testing on items known to pose no lead risk, such as wood, paper, and undyed fabrics, does not occur and so that repetitive testing does not occur.

The law deems any inventory prior to February 10, 2009, noncompliant and illegal to sell with penalties of $100,000 and makes it a federal offense. The inventories that companies and stores currently have will cost too much to test. Therefore, many businesses are already planning for their demise. February 10, 2009 is being referred to as National Bankruptcy Day.

The extremely expensive repetitive testing is going to ruin small business and put them out of business, as it will crafters, independent artisans, entrepreneurs, antique/collectible dealers, etc. It will also unnecessarily raise prices of goods for all consumers, as well as schools and disabled individuals, unnecessarily and diminish product selection. One-of-a-kind items will no longer exist, as testing will destroy them.

Small business makes up approximately 99.7% of all business, providing more than half of the nonfarm gross domestic product, and creating 60-80% of net new jobs. We need to ensure that these small businesses can buy sourced, already-compliant components, with which to make their own product by way of encouraging the SOURCE manufacturers to certify their products, i.e. either certified lead-free or certified as meeting the new standards. Forcing them to retest components of their product that have already been individually tested is wasteful and unnecessary, as the end manufacturer will have to retest every component of their item to prove THEIR compliance. For example, a decorative baby onesie will need to have the t-shirt material, the thread, decorative thread, snaps, appliques, dyes, colors, and patterns all tested, despite them all being tested for compliance upon purchase to assemble them INTO a decorative baby onesie. Should this onesie be offered in multiple colors, each color will need to be tested. Each SKU, each size/style, will need to be tested.

We need to find a way to keep our children safe while ensuring compliance in the most effective way and keeping our economy, our small businesses, thriving. Remember, almost every tainted product that prompted this legislation came from China!

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