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'Laptop for every child' campaign falls under CPSIA testing law

By Adriana Stuijt     Jan 20, 2009 in World
The Korean, solar-powered $190 laptop, distributed through the non-profit One Laptop Per Child campaign, is also going to fall under the lead-testing requirements of the new Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. The XO laptop is designed for kids.
The revolutionary, solar-powered $190 laptop distributed by Nicholas Negroponte, founder of MIT's legendary Media Lab, through his non-profit project One Laptop Per Child campaign, is also going to fall under the lead-testing requirements of the CPSIA law. The XO is also distributed among hundreds of thousands children in poor communities, also in the USA, as a much-praised, inexpensive educational tool.
It is made by Quanta computers in South Korea, see
There are only days left to lodge requests for exemptions and to object to the new Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act., which requires a huge range of imported and domestic products used or accessable by children younger than 12, to undergo expensive lead-testing before they are allowed on the United States market.
Negroponte introduced the project at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2005. He said the solar-powered laptop would be distributed to millions of children in the developing world and also in America's poorest communities see -- with cheap, powerful laptop computers. He's even selling them through Amazon.com. see
The $190 laptop -- called the XO -- is flexible, durable, low-cost and comes with open software that the children can program themselves. (see video) Microsoft was even accused of trying to sabotage the plan. See
'A revolutionary machine'
Negroponte describes it as 'a very cool, even revolutionary machine, and we are very proud of it'. see
Objections and requests for testing-requirement exemptions can only be lodged by January 30. The law was passed in August last year, and goes into effect on February 10. see
Some US lawmakers who had previously voted with great enthusiasm for CPSIA last August, now are asking for an urgent hearing in last-ditch attempts to save millions of American manufacturers and microbusinesses who concentrate on manufacturing goods for the children's consumer market, from bankruptcy.
$70m worth of inventory must be destroyed:
An economic impact study collected between 31 Dec 2008 and 10 Jan 2009 which measured the responses of manufacturers, component suppliers and retailers shows that over 70 million dollars worth of inventory must be destroyed on February 10, 2009.
$40m in lost product sales
Those enterprises that expect to survive the fall-out from the Act (61% will not), over 40 million dollars in lost product sales are anticipated.
The “average” respondent of this survey shares the following characteristics:
80% of their products are children’s goods. 61% expect to lose their business
71% of the retailers say they can’t get testing services due to accessibility, logistics or finances - 34% say they will have to close their business and 28% say they must destroy product.
If they have any full-time employees, they have 5, and if any part-time employees, they have 3. On average, they spend $112,843 on wages and salaries and $13,366 on contractor services annually. If they are going to destroy goods, they expect to destroy about $7,000 worth. Most of them think (51%) it would take over a year to sell off inventory, especially in the current climate. Most of them (66%) think this is the last nail in the coffin, they won’t survive.
Books, electronics, bikes, teaching materials, tribal costumes...
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 still discovering an increasing number of US-made goods which will requiring costly testing under this new law from February 10. To join the class action law suit, access here
Only one congressman voted against this law:
This hastily-drawn up bipartisan law was passed last August (424 votes to 1) to protect children from unsafe toys after last year’s widely publicized recalls mainly from China. That lone opposing vote was from Rep. Ron Paul, MD, (R-Texas) the former Republican and Libertarian Party candidate for president.
OPPOSITION IS GROWING IN CONGRESS:
However some lawmakers who voted for this Bill, such as congressmen Barrett, Bilirakis, Carney, Dent, Gerlach, Holden, Pitts, Platts, Ryan, Tiahrt, Weiner; and senators Brownback, Levin, Leahy, Mikulksi, Sarbanes and Snowe, now expressr concerns over this law.
Leahy wants an urgent congressional hearing about how the law will impact domestic manufacturers. They also want exemptions from the harsh lead-testing requirements for domestic manufacturers - because their own voters are increasingly warning them that many will face bankruptcy because of it.
Rep. Anthony Weiner of New York's ninth district now says the way the Act is written now, is creating 'intolerable confusion among US handmade toys' manufacturers,'
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...'
Alarmed by last year's recalls targeting millions of tainted toys mostly from mainland China, the House voted overwhelming to ban lead and other dangerous chemicals from products which could end up in children's mouths...
The legislation also toughened rules for testing children’s products and take steps to give more muscle to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which was criticized last year for its feeble handling of a flood of goods from China deemed hazardous to children.
Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), the ranking member of the committee that first passed the ban, was strongly in favor of it. "Children’s toys will be tested in the laboratory before they are tested by our children on the living room floors of America,” Barton said at the time.
What few consumers realize is this legislation affects more than only handmade toys produced in micro-businesses for children.
Millions of electronics from cellphones to computers and computerised games which target their products for children below the age of 12 will also have to start submitting certificates of compliance by lead-testing all their products before they can even be imported into the United States of America - or distributed to public outlets by US manufacturers after February 10.
And very few of the larger clothing manufacturers also seem to realise that this law also greatly affects them.
Of the ones who do know, most seem to think the law only only applies to children’s clothes.
Other than apparel the law includes diapers, blankets (housewares), books, videos, computer and electronic products, strollers, cribs, car seats, and anything humans come in contact with in their environment.
One of the problems with this law, its opponents say, is that Congress actually wrote the law -- and then forced the CPSC to implement it before the regulations were clearly written. These current regulations thus were not written by people inside the CPSC who are familiar with manufacturing.
The legislation also gave more muscle to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which was criticized last year for its 'feeble handling' of a flood of goods from China deemed hazardous to children.
Following is the summary of the law, as placed on the CPSC website
Beginning February 10, 2009, 'children’s products' cannot be sold if they contain more than 600 parts per million (ppm) total lead. Certain children’s products manufactured on or after February 10, 2009 cannot be sold if they contain more than 0.1% of certain specific phthalates or if they fail to meet new mandatory standards for toys.
Under the new law, children’s products with more than 600 ppm total lead cannot lawfully be sold in the United States on or after February 10, 2009, even if they were manufactured before that date. The total lead limit drops to 300 ppm on August 14, 2009.
The new law requires that domestic manufacturers and importers certify that children’s products made after February 10 meet all the new safety standards and the lead ban. Sellers of used children’s products, such as thrift stores and consignment stores, are not required to certify that those products meet the new lead limits, phthalates standard or new toy standards.
The new safety law does not require resellers to test children’s products in inventory for compliance with the lead limit before they are sold. However, resellers cannot sell children’s products that exceed the lead limit and therefore should avoid products that are likely to have lead content, unless they have testing or other information to indicate the products being sold have less than the new limit. Those resellers that do sell products in violation of the new limits could face civil and/or criminal penalties.
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