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Homecrafters head for Capitol Hill to object to lead-testing law

By Adriana Stuijt     Jan 12, 2009 in Business
Homecrafters and handmade toy manufacturers are heading for Capitol Hill on January 14 to attend the Open Forum of the House Small Business Committee this Wednesday, and object to the new Consumer Product Safety Act for lead-tests of all child-products.
Although it is claimed that the Federal government has made some 'tentative changes' to the new law which are being touted in the main-stream news media as a 'breakthrough' , these are not nearly good enough, with the wording far too confusing, homecrafters and microbusinesses complain. They now plan to lodge last-ditch objections and requests for even more exemptions to the new Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, CPSIA, which goes into effect on February 10.
Cultural genocide for native-American giftshops:
Native American gift shops on Trust Lands And native-American handcrafters are already referring to the new Act as 'cultural genocide'. see
Janet Littlecrow, of the Little Crow Trading post in Oklahoma, warns that from Feb. 10, their tribal gift shops will have to stop selling tribal tee-shirts, children's clothessuch as mocassins and tribal wear, and even language books for children."Testing the existing stock is impossibly expensive. Yet this is a federal law, so even Native Trust Lands are affected.'
School books with cut-out paper dolls are toys:
Moreover, children's books, especially if they are meant for playing in bathtubs and for 'tasting games', will also have to be lead-tested, not only the covers, but also the paper, as the printing ink is considered to be 'embedded' inside the paper and thus forms part of the product. Cut-out books which create dolls also are included in this category.
Electronics targeting kids 12 and younger, are toys:
Electronic toys targetted specifically for children aged 12 and under would also be included in this testing requirement.
Objections can only be lodged until January 20 so the American producers of handcraft children's products see this Open Forum meeting as one of their last chances to personally try and explain to lawmakers the far-reaching consequences of this new Act for millions of American microbusinesses and homecrafters. See the law
The new CPSIA law -- widely praised for its underlying sound intention to protect American children from poisonous products from abroad, especially mainland China – also will require millions of American homecrafters and microbusinesses to have their handmade unit-products made specifically for children, tested at huge cost, they say it would cost them from $500 to $4,000 per unit-product.
Congressmen Bachus and Weiner; Sen.Leahy also objected...
America's millions of homecrafters and homemade toy manufacturers have also been sending requests for exemptions from this law, fearing bankruptcy in these hard economic times - and many also want greater clarification. The way it is written now, is creating 'intolerable confusion among US handmade toys' manufacturers,' according to congressman Anthony Weiner of New York's ninth district.
He wrote to the chairwoman of the Consumer Product Safety board that 'many companies will have to bear the costs of a product safety system that is not leading to improvements in children's safety..millions of dollars of safe US-made children's clothing and toys will go unsold' because of this Act...' he warned.
Bankruptcy Act
Homecrafters like Kiki Fluhr of Massachusetts, who was one of the first to ring the alarm bell about this Act in December, are giving full support to Wednesday's delegation to Capitol Hill. They call it the "Bankruptcy Act". see
Fluhr. who runs the 'All the Numbers Handmade' micro-business from her Quincy, Massachusetts home, warns that the new Act will turn micro-businesses like hers "into illegal manufacturers of hazardous substances' overnight, just because they can't afford to have these products - which are perfectly safe -- from being tested for lead contents which do not even exist in the natural materials they use, such as wood, paper and US-produced fabrics.
Paint with lead content cannot even be found on the United States market - and it's this lead-free paint which is used on the multitude of handmade, wooden children's toys often found in children's boutiques. The raw wood itself also does not contain any lead, yet these handcrafters would be required to test these products, Fluhr pointed out.
Congressman Weiner agrees with this assessment, writing to CPSC's Nancy Ward that 'the law impacts unfairly on the millions of US microbusinesses and homecrafters in the US who manufacture child products safely.' And it's these working-class Americans who will be the hardest-hit by the CPSIA, he warned. see
"There is intolerable confusion' about the interpretation of the law by local manufacturers because the law has not been properly clarified, he warned.
Senator Patrick Leahy (tel 202-224-4242 senator_leahy@leahy.senate.gov ) of Vermont has also contacted the CPSC with similar concerns. see
Congressman Weiner writes:
"The manufacturers of childen's products are therefore interpreting it in their own way because they are getting no guidance on it. "As a result of the retroactive application, many of my constituents are now forced to prove that the clothing they made months ago, which is safe and presents no hazard to children, is compliant with new regulations.
Even a plain white tee shirt"
Even a plain white tee shirt would have to somehow be removed from shelves, individually tested and replaced. This decision would mean that millions of dollars of safe clothing and toys will not be able to be sold, and the companies that own that inventory will bear huge costs."
He also worried that the SPSC has thus far been unable to issue final regulations to help his constituents understand how these new regulations are to be implemented.
"For example, we know that fabrics and yarns are inherently lead-free. Yet, no rules have been issued that would clarify that such components are exempt from testing.'
The 'confusion' around this law also encouraged many retailers 'to develop their own rules interpreting these provisions'. The lack of guidance, he warned, 'is creating a confusion situation that is intolerable'.
He fears that many companies will have to bear the costs of a product safety system 'that is not leading to improvements in children's safety or holding any gains for public health.'
This is particularly difficult for small businesses, he warned, adding: "This legislation unfairly impacts many small, family-owned businesses at a time when our entire economy is struggling'.
For lists of accredited laboratories in the USA and abroad, see
Items in which lead is found:
(Quoted verbatim from The Smart Mama.com website:)
(1) Vinyl is often stabilized with lead. So, I've found lead in fake leather, vinyl purses (particularly children's and doll purses), vinyl or fake leather shoes, vinyl raingear, diaper changing pads, diaper pages with built in changing pads, vinyl changing pad covers, vinyl mattress covers, etc.
(2) Fake pearl, fake shell or opalescent buttons. Almost universally.
(3) Fake inexpensive pearl decorations attached to clothing or in children's jewelry.
(4) Some red dyes in textiles.
(5) Lots of those decals on the front of t-shirts. I'm not a fabric industry person, so I don't know if they were ironed, heat transfer, screened or what. They seemed not to be silk screened but I don't have the vocabulary to be accurate.
(6) Crystals. The lead may not be accessible but the lead is generally well above 600 ppm.
(7) Charm like decorations attached to clothing.
( Decorative zipper pulls, but generally not zipper teeth or the zipper base).
(9) Brass belt buckles, pieces of purses, etc. Lead is often added to brass to make it easier to machine.
(10) vinyl also usually has phthalates too. Vinyl must be stabilized with a metallic salt - usually lead, cadmuim or organotin - although others are used.To make it soft and flexible, they usually use phthalates. So, if you've got vinyl, you probably have phthalates. more information see
Objections and requests for exemptions can be lodged as follows:
Write to the Consumer Product Safety Commission's Office of the Secretary,
email Sec102ComponentPartsTesting@cpsc.gov . Fax (USA) 301 504-0127
Snailmail:
The Office of the Secretary,
Consumer Product Safety Commission,
Room 502, 4330 East-West Highway,
Bethesda, Maryland 20814 US.
Comments should be captioned:' Section 102 Mandatory Third-Party Testing of Component Parts'
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