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article imageUrgent congressional hearing demanded about lead-testing law

By Adriana Stuijt     Jan 15, 2009 in Business
Americans' opposition to the new Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) is growing fast, with a class-action law suit pending, and lawmakers asking for an urgent hearing in last-ditch attempts to save millions of microbusinesses from bankruptcy.
The new Act, which goes into effect from February 10, is very wide-ranging, requiring expensive lead-testing of imported and domestic products which many people would not immediately think of as toys, such as the 24-inch BMX-bikes used at the Beijing Olympics, hundreds of millions of children's books, tons of teaching materials for schools, tribal costumes sold at Native-American Trust lands... the protests are growing louder as people are discovering an increasing number of US-made goods which will requiring costly testing under this new law from February 10.
Plans are also afoot to launch a class action law suit against the CPSC.
To join, access here
Objections can only be lodged until January 20 See the law
Tens of millions of children's books affected:
Random House issued a letter today which they had written to the CPSC, asking to exempt children's books -- which so far it has refused to do. Random House writes that if the CPSIA is applied to paper-based books, as indicated in the advisory opinion of the CPSC General Counsel, children's book publishers, manufacturers and distributors will be confronted with several nightmarish scenarios.
The Cat in the Hat, Goodnight Moon, Harry Potter books...
"All existing paper-based children's books such as The Cat in the Hat, Goodnight Moon and Harry Potter as well as thousands of textbook titles—tens of millions of books—currently on the shelves of our nation's classrooms, public and school libraries, bookstores and in warehouses may simply be removed and destroyed because they cannot feasibly be tested to assure compliance with these unfounded toxicity concerns.
also see:
"All new paper-based books— not plastic toys in the shape of books —will be needlessly subjected to expensive and time-consuming testing that will overwhelm the few laboratories accredited for testing of actual children's toys and other children's products potentially presenting real threats of lead toxicity." see
And the BookShopBlog says a Book-burning is being planned for February 10 -. See here
Microbusinesses already closing because of Act
Some microshops are already closing their doors, saying they can't afford to stay open with these new legal requirements. However manufacturers of items such as BMX bikes also are deeply worried.
The Bankruptcy Law:
Millions of homecrafters producing handmade toys and other children's items such as blankets, clothing and cuddlies, say they are facing bankruptcy after Feb 10, and have dubbed the new law the Bankruptcy Law.
see
As did other elected representatives last week, congressman J. Gresham Barrett (tel 202 225 5301) of the Saluda county ( third ) district, South Carolina also wrote an urgent letter to Henry Waxman, chair of the House Commerce Committee today, demanding that urgent hearings be held on the CPSIA's impact on millions of Americans who survive on manufacturing small batches of products, often in their homes or from micro-businesses. see
Barrett also wrote to Bobby Rush, the chairman of the subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer protection with the same request, writing that he had in recent weeks, received very many complaints from microbusiness-owners in his district. "They are very concerned as to how this new Act will affect small American producers and sellers of children's products,' he writes. see
Congressmen Bachus, Weiner; Sen. Leahy all objected...
America's millions of homecrafters and homemade toy manufacturers have also been sending requests for exemptions from this law to the Council, fearing bankruptcy in these hard economic times - and many also want greater clarification of which items should be lead-tested, and which not.
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.
'This Act will not lead to improvements in children's safety'...
Weiner wrote 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. see
"There is intolerable confusion' about the interpretation of the law by local manufacturers because the law has not been properly clarified,' he also warned. Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont ( tel 202-224-4242 senator_leahy@leahy.senate.gov ) also objects to various aspects of the new lead-testing law for children's products. see .
They all demand that the testing requirements will have to be far better clarified than they are now.'
Congress overreacted, rushing through kid-friendly legislation... Wall Street Journal:
The influential Wall Street journal this week also slammed the new Act, commenting in an editorial that "the real responsibility lies with Congress, which rushed through "kid-friendly" crowd-pleaser legislation without considering the consequences,' noting:
"Congress has beaten down the CPSC for allegedly not doing enough about toy safety, but last year's toy law was an election-year overreaction by the United States Congress.
"The Commission needs to implement the rules without putting more (US) companies out of business in an already tenuous economy."
The law is all-encompassing, and includes items which one would not normally view as toys, such as children's books and BMX bikes.
Warren Baker, a BMX track operator, said that the new regulations are classifying BMX racing bicycles smaller than 24 inches as toys.These were the bikes ridden by Team USA's Olympic athletes in Beijing.. "These bicycles have a wheel diameter smaller than 24 inches thus they are classified as toys by CPSA and they will have to be lead-tested. "What is worse is each part on a complete bike will have to be tested too. And if a bike model comes in more than one color each color of bike is tested.
"Because the way the law is written, a manufacturer has to test each SKU (Size and color, even if the yellow complete bike, red complete bike and blue complete bike all have the exact same parts). For a complete bike, that testing can run between $4000-$7000 per SKU to test all required parts (down to spoke nipples and valve stems). These bicycles are high end race bikes not toys. And while we do have children as young as 3 racing BMX, I have run a BMX race track for years and have yet to see a child eating paint off a bike or mouthing a tire like a teething ring."
Shops are already closing down because of this law: the online HandsandHearts.com shop writes that they will have to discontinue their hugely popular History Discovery Kits because they would be deemed 'unsafe' without having them lead-tested first at exorbitantly high costs.
They write: "We, like so many other small business in America, are simply unable to afford to get in compliance with the new Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act. We know that these kits have blessed thousands of homeschoolers around the world, and we have prayed, wracked our brains, and sought council in hopes that we would not need to take this step. We do honestly believe that amendments will be made to the CPSIA, and it is our hope that these amendments will be reasonable enough that we will be able to offer our kits again at some point in the future (...) It is also our hope and intent to leave our store open after Feb. 10, but the loss of revenue from our kits may force us to close our business entirely. ' see
The latest recalls of children's toys imported from China, but rejected by the United States government due to high lead-content or choking hazards were "spiderweb' children's sunglasses, see; Fisher-Price's 'portable play yards' see and a large batch of imported baby rattles, see
More about Cpsia, Congressional hearing demanded, Harrypotter, Cat hat, Educational tools
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