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Uncertainty

December 18, 2008
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virginia

Um, hi! Remember me? It’s been a while. Sorry about that…Thanksgiving came and went and my husband ended up in the hospital and was seriously sick for three weeks. Thankfully he’s doing better now. Between that and the issue I want to talk about in a minute…I’ve been pretty distracted.

As many of you know, I’ve worked in my family’s business, One Small Child, for many years. Designing, manufacturing, and marketing christening gowns and children’s special occasion wear has been a huge part of my life. I’ve been so blessed to do something that means so much to me, in some ways my heart and soul are wrapped up in that business. And now it is in jeopardy, along with every producer of children’s products…from huge corporations to individual crafters and artisans.

Over the past several weeks I’ve been following what is happening as a result of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, passed by Congress in August. In a nutshell, this law lowers the allowable limits of lead in children’s products and provides for strict testing requirements to prove safety. It sounds so good…we all want safe products–who doesn’t? But unfortunately, there are consequences that weren’t perhaps really taken into account when drafting the legislation. At least I hope this wasn’t intentional!

The unforeseen consequences? Lead testing by a certified lab is very, very expensive. So much so, that in some cases, the cost to test far exceeds the actual value of the products being tested. We produce products that inherently contain no lead. However, the law requires that ALL products be tested, including already existing inventory.

What does this mean for you the consumer? It means that as of February 11th, any product not having proper certification is automatically deemed a hazardous substance and is unlawful to sell–in fact, it’s a felony. Stores will be returning unsold merchandise to manufacturers…manufacturers will be going bankrupt…more employment losses and bankruptcies added to an already faltering economy. It will escalate in August 2009 when lower limits go into effect and more in-depth testing and labeling will be required. There will be little selection of products to choose from and significantly higher prices. This bill will effectively wipe out most Etsy and Ebay sellers.

If you care about our economy, about having a wide variety of affordable (and safe) products, about the livelihoods of thousands of people, please help–contact your Congressmen and Senators, contact the CPSC, let them know you want amendments made to this bill that will allow for less expensive testing methods (component, vendor supplied, and XRF testing) and relax the retroactive requirements.

You can read more here, here and here.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. December 27, 2008 11:45 am

    Audrey

    I looked at the legislation and it indeed seems that the authors didn’t think about it quite long enough. A few simple amendments would seem to alleviate a lot of the legislation’s burden on small businesses — especially those that simply don’t deal with lead — without dulling the bill’s point and undercutting its purpose.

    What is the scope of the opposition to the bill? My sense is that, if the opposition is widespread and strong enough, some sort of unified call for amendment(s) would carry a lot more weight than isolated individuals contacting a legislator here and there.

    You would have a much better idea than I do about the buzz in the industry concerning the bill. The question in my mind is simply how to make the industry’s message loud and clear, and how to direct it to the right people. I don’t think the child clothing manufacturing industry or the toy-making industry have influential lobbies, but are there enough people with a vested interest in getting the legislation properly altered? If so, perhaps an organized effort to garner support and propose appropriate amendments could make the difference.

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