Unintended impact of law passed in panic: Lead Law Eliminates Many Children's Products

This was passed in the wake of lead in toys from China:

Worries over lead paint in mass-market toys made the holidays a little brighter for handcrafted toy makers last year, but now the federal government's response to the scare has some workshops fearful that this Christmas might be their last.

Without changes to strict new safety rules, they say, mom-and-pop toy makers and retailers could be forced to conduct testing and labeling they can't afford, even if they use materials as benign as unfinished wood, organic cotton and beeswax.

"It's ironic that the companies who never violated the public trust, who have already operated with integrity, are the ones being threatened," said Julia Chen, owner of The Playstore in Palo Alto, which specializes in wooden and organic playthings. . . .



Blogger Kathleen Fasanella said...

This legislation affects ALL children's products. Toys, while timely due to christmas, are only 20% of the market. This is a perfect example of the 80/20 Pareto Principle, 20% of the affected grabbing 80% of the juice. Come next fall, people will have a hard time buying clothes in time for back to school. What will be available will be limited in choice and much more costly because MOST children's wear manufacturers (68%) are tiny companies with fewer than 20 employees and they can't afford the average cost of $30,000 to $40,000 for testing their already inherently lead free clothes. Consumers and business leaders are going to be shocked at the number of well known brands exiting the market. I talked to the brand managers of some of the most beloved labels in kid's clothes. If this goes through, they're out.

More on CPSIA and the apparel market is here:

12/24/2008 10:02 AM  
Blogger Randy said...

It isn't just toy shops. People who make anything (like clothes or furniture) for kids are affected. I am not an expert, but it seems that the hurdle lies in the fact that component testing is not adequate: the final product must also be tested, at a cost estimated to be $5000 for each item in a product line.

Apparently even second shops should be worried because there isn't any exclusion for clothes and toys manufactured prior to the February 10th deadline.

The folks at www.NationalBankruptcyDay.com have been trying for months to get some discussion about this, and have amassed an impressive amount of information regarding the unintended side effects of the law.

12/24/2008 11:48 AM  
Blogger The Right Guy said...

With Socialists the only thing that matters are intentions, not the results. I imagine that the majority of the purveyors of lead containing toys are the superstores, who took measures after it happened to prevent further damage to their reputations. I would hope the Chinese do the same, and it is right to insist that the Chinese manufacturers make products that are not toxic to people, but to put the weight of responsibility on the people that sell the products is short sighted and problematic. It sounds to me they have to blame someone and they can't effectively do anything to the Chinese manufacturers, so they choose the easiest mark. If you bought a car that had an engineering defect, the manufacturer would have to make it right, and they would reimburse the dealer, who is their retail agent, to make it right. If the car dealer wasn't reimbursed to repair an engineering defect, they probably wouldn't want to sell that product because of the liability involved. It just seems like the more government gets involved, the worse the situation is made.

12/24/2008 11:53 AM  
Blogger littlegirlpearl said...

It not only eliminates toy shops, it will eliminate the majority of the companies that are in the handmade, one of a kind clothing business as well. But this isn't just a small versus large story either. The large manufacturers are going to be hurt in a big way over this because the lead testing is retroactive to this year's inventory. As of Feb. 10th, 2008, it will be illegal to sell anything that doesn't have a GCC or hasn't been tested for lead that is marketed toward children. I know this law is going to bury me as a micro-manufacturer of children's clothing if it isn't amended.

12/24/2008 8:49 PM  
Blogger Laurie said...

It seems this law covers all products geared towards kids under age 13.

I wonder if this could also affect the existing books in children's sections in public and school libraries and classroom text books, as well as other educational supplies in the classrooms from the desks to the chalkboards?

My guess is it will affect all sports gear as well from baseballs to bicycles.

In addition to that since these items will be deemed as hazardous waste does that mean they have to be discarded as such at a special hazardous waste facility? Will parents now have to deal with all their old kids toys as hazardous waste because they have not been tested?

Just think of all that stock sitting on the store shelves already...it will all become hazardous waste unless it gets tested.

Someone was very short sighted when drafting this legislation.

1/06/2009 1:10 PM  

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