Friday, January 9, 2009

Update/Rant--Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act

I feel like I'm in Clerks whining that I'm not even supposed to be here today.

Technically, the short sighted Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act doesn't affect me. I don't manufacture childrens goods, but childrens goods ARE produced from my product. I'm not legally liable, but my customers are. Plus I have friends who are going to be affected by this. So while this didn't feel like my issue for a long time and while I felt that the Consumer Product Safety Commission would do the right thing in time, I clearly can't keep this to myself anymore. It IS my issue because it is my customers issue. It is my issue because it affects my friends. It is YOUR issue because you have kids, or you are a crafter, or you just believe that handmade industry is important.

Please just bear with me through this, again. I promise I'll return to knitting content soon.
There is some slight progress on the CPSIA problems. One major problem was that under the wording of the act second-hand shops and individuals selling used items would be forced to test. That issue has been clarified. Resellers

The commission tentatively agreed to allow cotton and wood to be exempt. Not definitely exempt; tentatively exempt. Thrift stores and some resellers will be exempt...sort of. No formal rules will be given until AFTER the act takes effect meaning that it is very very likely that everyone affected will be in violation. The Consumer Product Safety Council opened up a 30 day comment period to take comments from the public.

Honestly? I think CPSC is doing the best they can. Congress dumped this in their laps without any additional resources and with very little guidance. I call BS on Congress. I really don't think the CPSC even wants to deal with this. They want kids to be safe, but this act is a bureaucratic nightmare. At least, for now, thrift stores are safe. Well, safer. According to the press release:

"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....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."

Clear as mud? Okay, so better for the resellers, right? What about the crafters and artists who create clothing, toys and textiles for children? Will they be required to test?

While CPSC expects every company to comply fully with the new laws resellers should pay special attention to certain product categories...(cribs, painted wood/metal, easily breakable, toys lacking age warnings, toys with small parts).

Okay, so the CPSC is particularly worried about common sense stuff, but what is the law? What about the crafters and artists who create clothing, toys and textiles for children? Will they be required to test?

*crickets chirp*
*crafters worry*
*artists pace*

The press release assures us that the agency is working on making clearer rules. Those rules are scheduled to come out when exactly? The CPSIA takes effect February 10. According to an LA Times article, the commission voted tentatively to allow some items to be sold without expensive lead testing. According to the same article, the final version of these 'clearer rules' won't be published until after the deadline, leaving retailers and sellers in violation of the law when they don't even know what the law is. GAHHHH!

The Consumer Product Safety Commission is taking public comment for 30 days. Go forth and email your comment. Tell 'em that Rachel of Dyeabolical Yarns doesn't want to see her friends go out of business. Tell 'em that it is great that they are looking out for kids but they are going to put a lot of independent artists and crafters out of work. Tell 'em that it is imperative that they support those small businesses who supply toys and furniture to our children. Tell 'em that those small businesses sprung up out of a need to provide the children of this nation safe alternatives to the crap the CPSC allowed in to this country and to now put those same people out of business because of poorly thought up regulations aimed at the crap producers is just absurd.

I have known about this issue for months. For months I thought for sure that the CPSC correct this obvious oversight. It was someone else's problem. Those someone elses haven't been heard and now they're a month out and nothing has happened and now I have to get all involved because we have got to support each other. GAHHH! I hate getting involved.

I don't doubt that the CPSC will (eventually) do the right thing. They just need a reminder about priorities. More people complaining = higher priority, which sadly is probably how the CPSIA probably got pushed through so quickly to begin with. That's how government works, kids.

Damn, how long have I been typing. I'm afraid to scroll up and see how long this post is. All I know that the cup of tea I poured at the beginning of this quick update is now stone cold. I'm going to include cold tea in my follow up letters to CPSC. Cold tea is a DANGER.

More info:,0,6917858.story