Monday, February 9, 2009

CPSIA - A More Serious Message

Tomorrow is February 10, effectiveness day for the new lead and phthalates standards and obligations under the dreaded CPSIA. Yes, the boom is lowered on Tuesday, and many of you are already taking dramatic steps to stay ahead of this law. With two days warning, the pain will be especially harsh on everyone with ANY phthalates exposure. Any inventory with phthalates that falls within the incredibly broad definition of a children's product becomes worthless at midnight (less than two hours from now, in Chicago), which will lead to huge business losses and possible loan defaults. Intentional or "knowing" violations of any of the many provisions of the new law exposes you to possible criminal liability, not to mention penalties and the pain and humiliation of recalls. Are we having fun yet???

We need to know what you are doing, how your business is being affected, how much money is being wasted, jobs being terminated, customer relationships ending and so on. We need to draw attention to these real situations and use the media to help explain the real world impact of this law. Congress wants to say that the disaster we were all predicting was just a figment of our imagination. Right now, they are sweating this one out. Let's bring reality to their doorstep.

Please post your story as a comment on this post. Alternatively, or in addition, please email me at Thanks.



Valerie Jacobsen said...

Having to beg the government for our basic right to buy and sell safe products freely has *already* caused substantial losses as manufacturers and retailers spend their time trying to figure out how to comply and trying to implement new systems rather than spending that time pursuing more profitable activities.

I run a bookstore. In my case, every hour that is spent on the phone, in a meeting, or writing letters is an hour that's *not* spent listing inventory.

I will never get that time back for another means, but I couldn't invest it other than in defense of our right to keep our safe product (children's books!) readily available to our community.

Valerie Jacobsen said...

Since 1995, I have sold older children's books to homeschooling families who prefer to use books from early to mid 20th century for part of their children's reading.

On Friday, Feb 6, the CPSC issued a press release stating that under the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) they will not prosecute people who sell children's books published "after 1985."

Last night, Feb 8, the CPSC issued a last minute set of guidelines that state that children's books printed before 1985 are exempt from the new lead requirements *only if* these older books are sold as valuable collectibles for adult collectors.

My husband and I have eleven children 18 and under and our small bookstore supports our whole family. We currently have 7000 books cataloged at our bookstore. 65% of our children's chapter books were printed before 1985. About 30% of our children's picture books were printed before 1985. Most of these books are under $10 and are sold for children's reading.

There is no known record of any child ever being lead poisoned by a children's book, but many pre-1985 children's books *do* have titles and cover illustration or decoration that consists of a very thin layer of gilt, white, or colored paint. Some of these books may (probably do, imho) violate these new, retroactive lead requirements as they are written in the CPSIA, but these are outstanding, well-written books and we have no evidence that any of them has ever harmed anyone. Many of these books have either been out-of-print for years or are in-print only as cheap, flimsy paperbacks with poor illustration.

For 15 years I have been legally selling beautiful older children's books. Many people appreciated it, and no one was ever harmed. As far as I have been able to determine, no child has ever been lead poisoned by the tiny amount of paint on vintage children's books.

How can I successfully continue to sell my older children's books if I can no longer advertise and promote them as being good for children or knowingly sell them for children? (My customers' true reasons for buying won't necessarily change just because the CPSC issues a set of guidelines.)

I honestly have *no confidence* that most of my older inventory complies with the new standards, but I also have no reason to suspect that a 1960 copy of Winnie-the-Pooh poses the slightest bit of risk to a child.

The federal government is hurting my business, and my family needs this income.

I'm dealing children's books under the table and with nods and winks. I'm still selling good books for kids, and I never suspected that I would have to break the law to do it.

Wacky Hermit said...

Six months ago I had more business than I could handle. Now I have nothing and I'm looking at closing up shop. I did get testing done and I have GCCs, but nobody's buying because the boutiques that stock my booties are in trouble too.

Last May my booties were part of a giveaway on the Ellen show. I'm sure so many moms looked at those booties and wanted a pair of their own. Now I and others like me are being demonized by these same "Awww"ing people for producing "contaminated" products. The booties are exactly the same as they were last May. They're made with the same yarn to the same pattern and served up in the same box, only now because of CPSIA people think they must be contaminated. CPSIA was purported to restore consumers' confidence in the safety of products. I think we could do with less of this Orwellian type of "confidence".

Anonymous said...


I just left the following comment on Fashion Incubator's blog post for today - I count you among those who deserves to hear these same words. Your tireless efforts make me PROUD.


I was in this emotional ditch on Friday - testament is the blog post that had traffic through the roof. You will snap back - no one with the courage and dedication that marks your character is going to be satisfied to remain in this emotional stage, healthy as it is.

I want you to know that I am SO PROUD OF YOU. SO PROUD.

I’m working on refining my links / message on my homepage - posted a BOLD STATEMENT today to include your tireless efforts.

Further, in HONOR or your NOT feeling humorous, I dedicate my humorous post on my blog today TO YOU. I, like you, do not know how to put a face on - it just happened the feelings you have today, I had on Friday. I am FILLED today, with hope - because February 10 is not the end all / be all. ALL of your hard efforts and the efforts of so many others are NOT wasted. They are CELEBRATED today - and will be put to good use in the days and weeks to come.

I believe our job is not to simply raise our voices to our legislators and media, as you know. I believe we now share the burden of coming together and educating ALL of our FELLOW CITIZENS - to strike the chord that IS DEEP WITHIN them. People are ruled by fear when in solitude or abandoned. But fear cannot survive when we all come together and present a wall of shelter, on behalf of our children - to confront our public servants and rise up.

My mom, a well known poet in Monterey Peninsula, wrote two very political poems - one about the movement for solidarity / uprising in Poland and another about the student protest in Tiananmen Square, China. I have requested her permission to post these on my blog today - she has granted it and, once I’m done with this commentary, I am going to go and post them. I beg you to come and read these - the fact is, it is not over - we may have lost a battle, but the war is far from over.

The truth cannot be destroyed. You are a CHAMPION of TRUTH. I send you love from the deepest part of my soul.

Warmest Regards,
Tristan Benz
Maiden America
Maiden America -