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Using social tools to fight the CPSIA

Posted by: John Tozzi on January 12, 2009

Thanks to those of you I’ve heard from in response to Friday’s post on the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. (This is the law that people who make hand made children’s toys and clothes say threatens to put them out of business because of the cost of testing products for lead.)

What I’m stunned by is the scale of the grassroots effort online to get regulators to implement the law in a way that’s fair to small producers. For example, the Flickr album of endangered toys, a well-populated Ning forum, active Twitter conversations, and on and on. This has resulted in a flood of stories in the press, one clarification from regulators so far, and what I can only guess is thousands (tens of thousands?) of letters and calls putting pressure on elected officials and regulators to consider this constituency’s interest when implementing this law.

This is exactly what Clay Shirky means by organizing without organizations. There’s no trade group on K Street lobbying for people who make kids’ toys out of their homes and sell them on Etsy. But they suddenly have a big voice in this debate.

The effect is amplified because these particular small business owners are already quite wired. Platforms like Etsy and eBay, as well as marketing on blogs and social networks, enable many more people to make a living selling handcrafted goods in small batches than was possible 15 years ago. These entrepreneurs adeptly put online social tools to use in this campaign because they built successful businesses with the same social tools.

I’m still working on this piece, and I hope to deliver something different to add value to the growing number of reports on the CPSIA. So, what questions should I ask the Consumer Products Safety Commission? How would you implement this law in a way that balances concerns over lead in toys with the ability for small producers to test and certify their products? Whose voice isn’t being heard in this discussion? Weigh in as always in comments, emails, Twitter.

Reader Comments

Wacky Hermit

January 12, 2009 05:59 PM

Yes, we have all these online groups, but do we have our own protest folk song? THAT's when you know you've arrived. ;)

Seriously, it's the consumer's voice that's been missing in all this. Most consumers aren't aware, and those that are, have heard about it from news reports whose authors read only halfway through the CPSC's press releases and never looked at the actual law or the arguments against it. A lot of people who know about it are still in the "our government wouldn't do something that stupid" phase and won't get kicked out of it until they start to notice that important things are missing. Consequently, we may not ever hear their voices, because by the time they have something to say, the dust will have settled and it'll all be over.

John Tozzi (BusinessWeek reporter)

January 12, 2009 06:21 PM

OK, good point. I see the consumer has two interests here: making sure products are safe and keeping the small producers they buy from in business. One of the things I'm trying to determine is how much lead poisoning risk toys and clothes actually do pose. Obviously there have been recalls over lead tainted toys. But what risk do toys on the market (handcrafted or otherwise) actually pose? What's the best way to mitigate that risk? Parents, what are your concerns here?


January 12, 2009 06:50 PM

and the "exception" for resale shops (Goodwill) lets them out of the testing requirement, but makes them liable if someone does get sick from something they sold.

I relied on the 2nd hand shops & yard sales to clothe and equip my daughter as she was growing up. Would anyone still have a yard sale if there was a risk that they could face charges if they sold something that turned out to have problems?

I'm also concerned (as parent and someday grand parent) that the quality handmade clothes and toys will vanish, and the only things left on the market will be cheaply made toys with no educational value, and all the kids will essentially dress exactly the same.

Wacky Hermit

January 12, 2009 07:27 PM

John, you ask good questions, but you must realize we *are* parents. The PIRG groups that claim to be representing the consumer's best interests would like to think we're all balding middle-aged men in top hats and monocles who spend all day rolling around on the piles of money we've made by replacing organic cotton with pure lead, but we're not. We're just moms and dads trying to make a living doing for other people's children what we do for our own. We feel that most children's products were plenty safe enough (or at least the ones we make are) and that this law is a bridge too far.

The vast majority of the risks are from lead paint on imported toys and in jewelry. Period. That's not to say there could never be a risk from somewhere else, but it's a fact that the well publicized lead toy recalls involved imported toys and jewelry. Why Congress felt they had to legislate clothing is beyond me.

Karen Clark

January 12, 2009 08:08 PM

My concern is with educational products and the impact this will have on the resources available to teachers, child development centers, church groups and others who serve children. Will there be an exemption for items used in an educational setting, or perhaps under supervision?

Could it be amended to either require testing and certification OR a warning label stating that this product is not to be used without adult supervision? Then it is in the teacher or parent's hands to be responsible for using the products appropriately.

I also feel that once a product is tested it should be over. A manufacturer should be able to report their manufacturing process and materials used, state that the item is made the same way with the same materials every time and be done. The requirement to test each batch, even when there has been no changes to the process, is cost-prohibitive. Many small businesses manufacture with "just in time" methods, producing orders as they come in, or very small batches.

Thank you for being a voice for small businesses and raising awareness for this issue.

Melanie Tommey

January 13, 2009 01:42 PM

I have been one of those active these past 3 weeks, to get the word out about this overreaching piece of legislation. I, too, am finding that most people, ie, consumers, are unaware of this law and how much it covers. Or if they've heard of it, think it only applies to toys! There will be a big uproar from consumers, and therefore, in the media on February 10th, when hundreds of non-compliant items are pulled from store shelves and businesses begin to close. I have written my congressmen as well as the CPSC to ask for some common sense amendments to this law. I'm asking for fabric of all kinds to be exempt, except for the regulations regarding children's sleepwear. Also, books should be exempt, both paperback and hardback. Items that are specifically geared for education should also be excluded. Wooden items, if unfinished, or if painted with a commercially available non-toxic paint should also be excluded. This would address many of the issues, that small businesses and handcrafters have with the law, and would allow consumers to still cloth their child and buy the basic necessities. That is the other shoe that will drop from all of this...what they do find left on the shelves to buy, will jump in price, as the manufacturer WILL pass the testing costs onto the consumer.

Alex Stuart

January 13, 2009 02:02 PM

The law will result in a super large increase in the prices of all children's items as the cost of testing will be passed along to the consumer.

Also the way that the law is written all children's library books currently in public libraries will each have to be tested or destroyed as well as school text books currently in use. The American Library Association has just joined the fight against this law for this reason. Community budgets cannot cope with this and will either continue their libraries illegally or no longer offer children's books - much less what will happen to school budgets that must support all new text books.

As far as the self-employed home business craft artists are concerned this law must either exempt the handcrafter and home businessperson or allow for us to use materials and supplies that have already been tested by their manufacturer. Why should I need to retest the paint, the fabric, and the glue that have already been tested before they were sold to me? There is no lead in the toys and children's items that we make. We know it because we know what we make these items from. We have been applying stricter standards to our art and creations than any BIG manufacturer ever considered.

Tactile Baby

January 13, 2009 02:09 PM

As a parent and an Etsy seller of children's toys I am both concerned with product safety and my own business preservation.

I use wood from my local lumber yard - untreated poplar mostly, and non-toxic acrylic paints. Toys are sealed with beeswax or non toxic shellac.

Since lead was banned from paint products in this country in 1977 and all of my paints are certified non-toxic by the ACMI I would love to hear the CPSC's rationale for the additional testing requirement.

Many textile companies already conduct in-house testing for toxins in their products. Allowing resellers to use these certifications would not only allow thousands of independent sellers of children's products to stay in business - it would also make sense. Even if I could afford the testing, why should I and hundred's of others be responsible for bearing the cost of redundant testing?

Let's put the focus and the responsibility where it belongs - on the multi-national corporations who's concern for their bottom line seems to be of greater importance than our children's safety.


January 13, 2009 02:15 PM

I buy all my product to make my clothing from venders here in the US. Vender who already had to pass the testing phase in order to sell to me. I see no sense in having to test these things AGAIN just because I ran it through a sewing machine. I suppose I owned a magic one without knowing.

The scope of what is about to be lost is amazing. Hand made will be a thing of the past. Granny quilts...hand crocheted baby booties. All now done by some machine in China because only the large companies will be able to afford the tests.

To top it all off the consumer already trying to make ends meet int he hard economy will find basics such as diapers, and shoes for their kids going up in price to offset the cost of the testing.

Yes, lead is a hazard. The problem was NOT with toys made here in the US. The recalls were for toys shipped to us from another country. Perhaps lawmakers should have considered beefing u p the existing laws instead of trying to kill an ant with a Mac Truck.

I encourage you to look at what is on the pages of this link to get an idea what is at stake. The scope of the loss is not even minutely represented there.


January 13, 2009 02:22 PM

I think they should repeal this law and start over.

We all want to keep our children safe, that's not the problem. That's why lead paint was made illegal in the US in 1978. It's still legal to use in China, however, and that's where the majority of the recalled toys came from. To lump the small business and crafter/artisan in with the large manufacturers is ridiculous.

The exemptions that they're discussing now don't go far enough. If you want to buy handmade products what will your choices be? Unpainted toys, and undyed cotton and wools. It doesn't sound that appealing, does it? Or you can buy mass produced, imported products that cost more because the consumer is that one that will absorb the cost of testing. The small and micro businesses are paying the price for mistakes that big business made.

We're all for keeping the children safe, and we can do that without putting Americans out of business.

Trevor Thorson

January 13, 2009 02:26 PM

"The vast majority of the risks are from lead paint on imported toys and in jewelry. Period. That's not to say there could never be a risk from somewhere else, but it's a fact that the well publicized lead toy recalls involved imported toys and jewelry. Why Congress felt they had to legislate clothing is beyond me."

My opinion, get the word out!! This law affects EVERYONE!! The consumers are clueless and when presented this law, they question, "Would'nt the materials you purchase to use ALREADY be compliant?" You would think, huh? Lead has been banned from the US for years. It leaks to the US by ways of China and other countries not forced to have strict regulations like we have.
And clothing.... What the?? Clothing is not a hazard. Toys have been the biggest problem, and that is our fault for not supervising the manufacturing in other countries.
It is simply not fair to make ME, a small manufacturer to pay for someone elses mistakes.


January 13, 2009 02:44 PM

One of the big burning questions is whether or not this will be applied to books, DVD's, CD's, etc., produced by small pbulishing firms (and even big ones, such as Random House, which is mentioned in a recent Publisher's Week article).

The homeschooling community is greatly alarmed at this, as this could mean the end of many businesses that publish and sell homeschool curriculum.

Wacky Hermit, there might not be a song, but I can think of a catchy nickname for this law: call it the "Bergermeister Meisterberger Law."

Alicia Wilson

January 13, 2009 02:49 PM

As a small business crafter I am certainly concerned with the enactment of the CPSIA and echo the common sense suggestions many of the previous posters have suggested.

As a parent, I am concerned that this law leads us down a slippery slope that takes any and all responsibility of injury to our children and places it squarely upon the shoulders of anyone who manufactures a childrens product.

When my 8 year old breaks her leg on our trampoline (a product I bought, knowing the risks associated with it) should I now send the trampoline manufacturer the doctor's bill.

I am certainly not saying that there shouldn't be some regulation of products tainted with lead, but this law is entirely too vast in its scope.

Nicole Williams

January 13, 2009 03:42 PM

As a small manufacturer, I am completely horrified by this law. When I found out recently that it actually applied to me (I produce pacifier clips, blankets, bibs, diaper bags, etc), I thought it was not possible! I was blissfully ignorant to the scope of the law and I am 100% affected by it. I did some very light skimming of the law when it was first announced and falsely deduced that it HAD to be for toys, feeding gear and baby furniture (i.e., cribs) as it would be ludicrous to apply towards clothing and accessories (except jewel-encrusted ones, such as the crystal bracelets and other baby "jewelry", which should be outlawed anyway as a choking hazard, but that is a different topic). I was very wrong and now I spend my days looking for testing sitest that aren't outrageous and calling/emailing my legislators in an effort to get them to see that this is the last nail in the coffin for this country's economy.

Other commentors are correct in that if this law actually goes into effect as written, THOUSANDS of companies will shut their doors (retailers included) and we will become a truly homogenous society with no creativity left as it will have been drained from the ones absolutely not responsible for the lead issues we have faced.

Why not make import regulations tougher and stop punishing the very people that make this country so great?

No one is for products with lead in this country, especially our little ones that need protection. But have some sense and regulate the products that actually pose a risk? Perhaps a little forethought and some actual studies could be done before enacting such a sweeping law? There's a novel idea...

Amy Edwards

January 13, 2009 04:05 PM

What this is going to do to our ECONOMY is what boggles me. Our economy is already in so much trouble and this law is only going to make things worse. Why does noone responsible for the CPSIA realize this????? This is a HUGE problem that needs to be fixed sooner rather than later!

Mark Riffey

January 13, 2009 04:14 PM


The dirty little secret about this law is that it doesnt stop with businesses who make childrens products.

Today at my chamber meeting, I ran the group through the "Grandpa's meeting" exercise described at the bottom of (link goes to my blog).

80% of the room was standing - ie: affected by CPSIA in some way - by the time I was done.

Many of those who did not stand were affected but I didnt push it.

Its a small business problem, a community problem, not just a problem for people who make stuff for kids.


January 13, 2009 04:34 PM

I have an Etsy shop and have been trying to get the word out about this also. One of the things I decided to check out was exactly which toys have been recalled by the CPSC over the past few years (for excessive lead content as well as other violations) and where they were manufactured. I couldn't make it down the entire list (it's a long one), but of the 50 or more that I looked at, I saw only one product actually manufactured in the United States. It was recalled because of a choking hazard.

As for federal lead standard violations, I saw a couple from Taiwan, Indonesia, and India, but the vast majority are imports from China. Not that this is a surprise, but it illustrates what we've all been saying pretty well.

You can see the list here if you'd like :

Sonya Bingaman

January 13, 2009 04:55 PM

I started my home-based toy business to offer handmade toys that I make and then expanded to offer toys made by about 50 other very small businesses (and a few medium-larger businesses)in the US and around the world. If the CPSIA goes into effect as written, my business will close and most of the businesses I buy from will close. Most of the handmade toys I make and buy are made in tiny batches of 10-20 toys at a time, or even 1-2 toys at a time. Each batch of toys would have to be tested and marked (which is impossible with many natural toys) and would be cost prohibitive. I think when some people think that the costs may go up for some toys and that some people would be willing to pay a couple extra dollars. The reality is that medium and larger companies may increase prices slightly but smaller companies will just be forced out of business entirely. The idea of there being very few natural and handmade toys left in our country is horrifying! Thanks for listening.


January 13, 2009 05:06 PM

I am a wahm, a small business owner, a designer and seamstress of made to order clothing for children. My livelihood, and the livelihood of every cottage-industry entrepreneur like me, is threatened with extinction when HR4040/ the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act or CPSIA goes into effect on February 10, 2009.

Make no mistake, CPSIA was necessary in principle and has noble intentions, keeping our children safe and holding companies accountable for importing toxic toys. Unfortunately this legislation lacks common sense, is ambiguous and fails to take into account micro manufacturers and the handmade industry.

Unit testing will be required on all finished products, regardless if the components are natural materials, the manufacturing process could in no way introduce lead into the equation, or if you have documentation from vendors stating that the components are certified lead-free.

The required 3rd party lab unit testing is extremely cost prohibitive. My made-to-order articles of childrens clothing are 100% cotton and inherently lead free. To verify this claim, XRF testing has been performed on my designs; every fabric, trim, and button. XRF testing provides the necessary proof that quantities of lead are well within the CPSIA standards and offers a cost that is affordable to small businesses. XRF testing is currently allowed to provide a General Certificate of Conformity which is required as of 2/10/09.

As it stands currently, the CPSIA requires that by August of 2009 all items will need to be unit tested by a certified government lab. The cost quotes given to test in the manner laid out in the law will range from $500-$1500 per style depending on the number of substrates with the lowest price I could find being $75 a substrate. The attached image of one of my hand appliqué 100% cotton shirts would cost me exactly $1425. to test (I obtained quotes solely from US eée´based labs such as Lab Cor, Intertek, ETC and STR) just to show that same documentation as the XRF scanning as well as the documentation provided by my vendors showing that the components have already also been tested and meet lead guidelines. The redundancy of the testing is unnecessary as allowing component testing and XRF will ensure safe products. Without that allowance my company will go out of business. NOT because of the economy, but solely because of CPSIA. Small micro manufacturers such as myself have no way of absorbing the price. There is no economic recovery from it.

According to the 2002 Economic Census (the last survey of its type), small U.S. clothing manufacturers (with fewer than 20 employees) contribute over $900 million dollars [consider: nearly $1 billion dollars] annually to the economy and comprise 68% of total apparel manufacturing in the U.S. This is clearly a vital and contributing asset to our economy. Multiply this fallout exponentially when you take into account the myriad other manufacturers, retailers and businesses that (manufacturer of sell items intended for children under the age of 12) will be hurt or ultimately driven out of business.


January 13, 2009 07:39 PM

To answer the question:

First, the law should not be implemented as it is written. As written it does not just single out toys. It is referring to any and all products that may be used by or sold for children under the age of 12 (apparel, toys, electronics, jewelry, books, etc), even if these items are made in the US by 100% USA components. So to start with the law needs to keep its focus on the origin of the problem…imported products.

Second, small producers of a finished good or product should not have to test a finished product that was made with components already held to be compliant. Just because a bolt of fabric was sewn into a dress and a button added along with a zipper and a "finished product" was created, this finished good should not be re-tested if the individual parts have already been held compliant.

Third, retailers and distributors should not be held liable for any testing as they are nothing more than a middleman between the consumer and the wholesaler/manufacturer.

Fourth, the government should have enough people hired to enforce the laws that are already in place and not push that responsibility to the small business owners, artisans, and craftsman of America.

As a small business owner I'm very concerned with how the new law is written. As an American citizen and consumer I'm more concerned with the fact that if this law comes to pass then it will do nothing but force many small American businesses to close their doors. And, if that happens then my right to shop, and buy from where and who I want will be taken away from me! There will be nothing left but the bigger industries such as Wal-Mart and my hard earned money from however it comes…even if it is from unemployment that I get from our own government will be spent in these stores and used to support the manufacturing of goods in other countries as well as keep their citizens employed. The CPSIA law as it stands still does not address the original problem…imported goods. It only shifts the responsibility of enforcing its original rules with added new ones to the American business owner, consumer and citizen.

Claudia van Dijk, Silken Sky

January 13, 2009 07:57 PM

I am a parent who is concerned about lead in toys, and also a consumer who wants to be able to purchase safe toys, and handmade and natural toys. In addition, I have a small business selling handmade toys and craft kits from natural materials. The implementation of the new lead law by CPSA has hit me on all of those levels. I applaud the government for working in a bi-partisan way to ensure safety for our children. But I am appalled at the implementation of their law, the CPSIA. I don't know how one law can have such wide-spread devastating effect on so many. Following the letter of the CPSIA, wahm's will no longer be able to make woolen baby diapers, used book sellers will have to "burn" their children's books, hand-made ring-bearer's pillows will be a thing of the past, delightful hand-made children's clothing will be unavailable, libraries will have to ban children from their collections, the lavender and wool stuffed toys I make will be contraband... and what about the suppliers to all of these businesses?

CPSA stated that the economic impact to small businesses would be too small to consider following the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, which protects small businesses like mine from laws directed at big business
( ).

What would I like to see? Either an affordable way to prove that products made in small "batches" of one or two items have no lead, or an exception such as that provided to the small businesses in the food industry, allowing you to buy a home-baked pie at the farmer's market
( ).


January 13, 2009 11:22 PM

There is just so much to this far reaching law. None of the resale business store owners, none of the people I meet every day of my life object to the reduction in lead levels.

It's honorable and necessary. What's objectional on so many varying levels is the way the law was rushed through without any thought to the people in the US - the cottage industries, the people who rely upon resale to either buy clothing/books/toys/parenting accessories or sell/consign those same things back into the secondary market, the people who base their lives around bringing a natural product to the market - products which are intended to be safe.

Ebay and craigslist are HUGE in terms of dollar value of traded merchandise.

Garage sales are HUGE.

Resale and thrift stores are HUGE - and I have to make note that the clarifying press release with regard to resale only muddled the issue.

Resale stores were NEVER required to test - so how was this clarified?

What concern resale stores was HOW they were to determine what items had acceptable lead levels. They still have that concern and the CPSC would have them use their best judgement?

So, the secondary market has to use it's best judgement in what they sell and risk everything just in case they don't know that a specific item has 700ppm lead vs 600ppm. They rish becoming a criminal overnight. Will the CPSC be there backing them up in court? There are cases with regard to recalled items which show the court does not care about reasonable or even good or great judgement.

Then, there's the issue of whistleblowers - who might turn someone in... Will it be the aggrieved employee, the competitor down the street or even on eBay, will it be the seller to a buy out right resale store who didn't think they got enough money for the item they sold...

Then there's insurance. Tell me, how many insurers do you know who are willing to take the risk of a children's resale store having good judgement about what they sell. It's difficult enough as it is in the resale industry to get insurance. Lets make it even more difficult.

So, I'm mad as hell. Like the youtube video going around...

I am working on the site, we have all the social networking thingys set up and we are sharing and telling and asking for support. And, you know what? The consumer is helping. The consumer is supportive - I can attest to that from the resale arena.

I'm more certain than ever, by the count on our petition to Congress - (more than 60,000 letters have gone out in 4 or 5 days) that the consumer is involved.

BUT, it doesn't help that SNOPES calls this False when looking up whether or not resale can sell items.

AND to your question about lead deaths. I've always read and concerned myself with the aspect of developmental delay (and in many ways question my son's exposure due to his diagnosis of Aspergers) and neurological damage. I'm not sure where this information can be obtained, but I know it's out there.

Thank you for this opportunity. I've posted notice on FB and Twitter. So hopefully you'll get great feedback.

dan marshall

January 14, 2009 12:21 AM

John, I think your comments about organizing without organization are very insightful. I was a member of the Handmade Toy Alliance from the beginning (late November, that is) and what has amazed me has been not only our ability to organize and communicate with people, but also our group decision making process. We remain an ad-hoc group with no budget, no board, and no overhead.

We started out with very little idea about how to proceed or how what changes in the law we should seek. And, our original positions were much different than where we are now. Our ideas and understanding of the issues have evolved considerably. I think it's the same process that makes wikipedia as great as it is--a lot of people using the power of the internet to collaborate, in this case using the free google sites and google groups services. These were linked together with blogs, Youtube videos, ning, facebook, and of course, the Web 2.0 political site

Our process has been to ask each other what the next step should be, then find a volunteer to draft a letter or a press release, and then edit it as a group. There has been no voting, but rather a reliance on consensus and the collective wisdom of our members.

My hope now is two-fold: that we can create a meaningful change in the enforcement mechanisms if the CPSIA so that our members can remain in business and that we might create a lasting alliance that can nurture and grow small children's products companies. So, some lasting transformative good may come from the insanity that is the CPSIA.



January 14, 2009 12:32 AM

I have a successful small business making little girls dresses. We use less than a gram of Swarovski leaded crystals on our clothes (an appropriate amount for ages 6 and under according the CA law Prop 65). According to the new CPSIA law, however, these safe crystals have not yet been made exempt (as requested in the NAM Petition that is signed by a dozen large American Manufacturing Organizations), so $200,000 worth of inventory will need to be retrofitted or destroyed. We also have to change the crystals we use on $450,000 worth of goods already in production if we hope to sell them after Feb 10th. We are spending thousands and thousands of dollars changing our SAFE products and will be unable to sell most of our stock...hopefully my partner and I (and all of our little boutiques and department stores that buy our products and our sales reps) will not go bankrupt!!!

Kathy Mancini

January 14, 2009 12:34 AM

Do not be deceived by the "clarification by regulators" - this was nothing but a restatement of the law. Resellers still face the same threats of prosecution as before this "clarification". My analogy is if a teacher told you that you didn't have to read the book - oh, but there may be a test on it anytime (and it will be for the whole grade!). Resellers, crafters, small businesses - their futures, the finances of their clients and customers - all are at risk! Not to mention the overall economy of the country! A question for the CPSC - if the existing inventory is untested then it is to be considered a hazardous material. So, how do I dispose of it? Remember - you can't put hazardous material in a landfill! (although all of this stuff would overfill all of the available landfills!!) A poorly written, ill considered piece of "protection" legislation.


January 14, 2009 12:58 AM

It is definitely important to include the CONSUMERS. Don't forget to include the green movement angle: eco-conscious alternatives and the desire to buy local / domestic production.


January 14, 2009 01:08 AM

Please read this excellent article written by Holly Jahangiri. I was touched by her elegance in making her points and her appeal to all those who will be impacted to unify their efforts. It might give you more food for though in preparing your questions.

Beth W

January 14, 2009 01:33 AM

This is one of those laws that got passed completely under the radar. It's mainly because of the grassroots efforts of the handmade community at large that it is getting any media attention. Consumers need to be aware of what mass marketed and mass produced items that were outsourced to other countries in the name of saving money has done to the economy at large. Not only will this law put countless handmade entrepreneurs out of work; it will put nonprofit and charity organizations out of business as well because of the lack of funds for testing and the lack of facilities for testing. Not to mention the new tracking regulations, if someone were to unknowingly donate a mass produced item that was on a recall list for example... the consequences would be dire for the organization that received the recalled item and also the party who donated it. The artists, crafts people, and people who support those businesses have always and will always strive to supply consumers with the very best quality and go above and beyond for their customers and their community.


January 14, 2009 01:37 AM

It's just really stunning that in a country this size with as much "freedom" as we have, our very livelihoods can be virtually wiped out with one stroke of a pen. Where are the checks and balances? Why was this bill passed with out so much as a discussion? Why wasn't Congress expected to do their full research and have detailed charts to show how this bill would help (and ensure that it would not HURT) before being allowed to pass it? What KILLS me is that those BIG companies that started this whole thing in the first place will go right on ahead producing their cheap, plastic imported crap, while those who NEVER created a dangerous toy and were only hoping to earn a little extra cash to...I don't know...heat their homes this winter (?) are the ones being punished. Congress is all TALK and NO HEART. It's easy enough to sign your name on a bill that will give BILLIONS to banks but when it comes to ACTUALLY making sure your signature isn't going to hurt the little guys...Well, I guess they all just really had important lunch dates they needed to get to.

Samantha McLean

January 14, 2009 01:38 AM

I also am concerned. I live in Australia but sell handmade felt toys through Most of my customers are in the US. I am most careful to use materials which do not pose risk to children, but it appears that customs may seize anything they deem non-compliant and destroy it. Ultimately it is up to parents to choose toys and clothing wisely for their children and supervise them as they use said items. It seems like overkill to punish the small businesses and home crafters. It was after all large companies importing tainted items from abroad who forced the issue of toy safety. Surely an already damaged economy cannot stand this blow?


January 14, 2009 02:08 AM

I'm with those who think the extent of the economic impact is very much underestimated. For many of us, our online shops are the difference between making ends meet, or giving in to recent economic pressure and declaring bankruptcy.

If I could ask the people of the CPSC any question (and get an honest answer) it would be "How do you REALLY feel about this?" This would be closely followed by "Why did Ms. Valesse REALLY resign?"

There has been so much confusion and mixed messages from them, and the brightest rays of hope are in unofficial comments which are quickly retracted. To top it all off, there have been a number of communications in which they talk about focusing on enforcing immediate dangers, and similar. Reading between the lines, I think they want us to quit bothering them with something they don't have the means are inclination to enforce on the handmade level. ...but few of us are comfortable blatantly ignoring such a law.

I get the feeling that the CPSC is in total turmoil over what they've been handed. It isn't fair to them, and it isn't fair to our nation.

As a shop owner, I'm concerned. As a parent I'm furious. My vote is for full disclosure regarding _voluntary_ testing, materials used, and the sources of those materials. With that information, I'm comfortable making a judgment and taking responsibility for my own family.

On a side note- one small business owner recently pointed out to me that baseball and other youth sports account for far more injuries and deaths than lead poisoning. It may not be entirely fair to compare the two, but can you imagine the outcry if congress tried to pass a ban on little league sports?


January 14, 2009 02:13 AM

First off I have to say that children can buy craft supplies too. I started sewing when I was 10 yrs old and brought fabric from local retailers and other necessary supplies. If we are so worried that lead is in crafting supplies, I believe every one who produces these products would have lead posioning.
Things for the commission to answer: Why do products that are made with lead free substances such as paint need to be tested? When was the last recall on a bolt of fabric because of lead content? Most craft supplies conforms to ASTM D standardsand most companies support that the products are lead free. If supplies could be certified somehow then artisit could just create the end product and not retested because every item added would have already been tested. I can understand being concern about lead posioning especially in little children but when was the last time that a 7 yr old sat down and started eating her dress or chewing on a book. I just can't see taking away the alternatives that people have always trusted because the commission let us down in the first place by allowing all of the these products to be let into the market for kids to get a hold of in the first place. This is a good picture of what Congress fails to even know they have passed.

Cynthia Broockman

January 14, 2009 06:45 AM

What questions should you ask the Consumer Products Safety Commission?

How about, when does Nancy Nord intend to resign? Her completely inept oversight and management of the CPSC is glaring to all of us who have been fighting relentlessly to make someone, anyone out there in the media, legislative and public sphere pay attention to a serious crisis about to smack Americans in the face come February 10th. The time-bomb is ticking even as I write. Please don't wait too long to write your story!

How would you implement this law in a way that balances concerns over lead in toys with the ability for small producers to test and certify their products?

Remove the retroactivity to the law PLUS everything everyone has already stated above. The decision by Falvey late November alone, that blindsided so many businesses is set to make millions of dollars of inventory that was legal to sell February 9th a banned hazardous substance the very next day. Does this make sense? Is it fair? Is it practical? Oh, there's a question for you for the CPSC that has also gone unanswered - how and where are we to dispose of all of the veritable mountains of suddenly toxic inventory? Do they intend to raid American homes to confiscate all the kid's clothing and gear and slap the parents with citations for child endangerment for exposing them to toxic waste? Shall the kid's be forced to run around naked?

Whose voice isn’t being heard in this discussion?

Joe Public's for sure - unless you read all the comments and reactions that we have all collectively been able to gather on our numerous petitions and websites. Here, the second-hand market, in which I and thousands of others operate. My government apparently believes I should change careers and bootleg kid's clothing and gear! To placate the uproar we caused in our industry and from our customers as we began to plead with them to help us do something about this insanity they issued a very crafty, yet transparent, 'Press Release' to spread yet more misinformation about the affects of this law on our industry - implying that somehow we were 'exempt' or they had actually DONE something to change the law, when they had not. Their attempt to stop the onslaught of outrage pouring over their clogged phone and email lines, no doubt cheered on by some in congress and lobbyists who have tried to keep the law and it's attendant problems flying under the public radar was pure evil. Giving it to television media a full day before putting it out on the RSS Feeds was sheer politics.

I am a 52 year old business owner turned grassroots activists overnight. While believing myself to be more computer savvy then most my age, I hadn't spent any time in social networking activities on the web - until several weeks ago when my unresponsive government gave me no choice but to mount an expedition into the blogosphere. It has been a fascinating and rewarding journey. Week after week I have spent glued to my computer, phone to my ear as I neglect the very business I'm fighting so hard to save. The result? Http:// has managed to do some good stuff in helping to spread the word (and continues to)amongst members of our industry that had no clue their livelihood was impacted by this devil in a diaper that is the CPSIA. We have collected over 67,000 electronic signatures and comments on our petition (as of last evening), been interviewed by major media and tried to be a useful source to collect information from all over for owners so they too don't have to become their computer's best friend.

Hurry! Don't wait too long please! Write that darn story and get it out there NOW! February 10th is thundering down the tracks at America, but for all of our enormous collective effort, the whistle hasn't become loud enough!

Ruth Kubierschky

January 14, 2009 08:43 AM

So many other great comments! I have to agree with everything; I'm only a hobby seller myself, have a couple sales in my shop on Etsy. I would love to be able to make this a business where I could support myself and my 2 developmentally disabled kids, but if CPSIA goes through as written I will absolutely be put out of business (more than half my current products are for babies).

It's not just the testing and the associated costs, it's the labeling requirements too. How do you do batch labeling on a batch of one? You can't. There have been a couple of CPSC officials who have said one of a kind and handcrafted items will be exempted, but these are opinions of individuals, not officially part of the law. I've seen many comments from people on Etsy saying they plan to close, not because there's anything wrong with their product but because "I can't afford to test and I don't want to break the law".

We handcrafters KNOW our products are safe, many or most of us buy our materials from retail sources. As one Etsy seller pointed out, she can go to a fabric store and buy materials and make a dress for her daughter. Why does the law make it illegal for her to make the exact same dress and sell it? It's ridiculous. And this covers books?? My mother is a retired librarian, I told her about the CPSIA (according to one report libraries are either going to have to destroy all their children's books or ban kids from coming into the library) and she said "are they insane????"

While I totally agree that CPSC needs more funding and staff to properly enforce EXISTING laws, CPSIA goes way too far. IMO CPSIA as it is should be repealed and rewritten, from what I hear the law also includes extra funding and staffing requirements and that we DO need. We need them to police our IMPORTS, as I understand it only about 2% of the cargo coming into our ports is checked to make sure it complies with our laws.

Someone mentioned that we should have our own song, I think a rewrite of the lyrics to Pete Seeger's "The Big Muddy" would be perfect.


January 14, 2009 08:57 AM

I am a stay at home Mom to 4 children. We are also a homeschool family. I make hair bows for little girls and sell them online through Ebay, Etsy, and my own website. This law as written will put me out of work due to the high cost of testing. I have been contacting my suppliers of the polyester ribbon I use in my business and have received many MSDS sheets on their testing. There is NO lead in polyester ribbon. However, due to the requirement for 3rd party testing and its high cost I can not afford to prove my product is safe. It is not that I do not want to comply with the law, it is that I can not AFFORD to comply with this law. To test a 8.95 hair bow, my quote is around 500.00. My "batch" would be about 5 bows made from a 5 yard roll of ribbon, making my profit roughly 45.00 (not counting cost of the ribbon etc..) however since the testing of that "batch" being 500.00, you can see how this would easily put me out of work. This work of my hands provides FOOD for my family! This not only affects my cottage industry, but will also affect us in our homeschooling. We use a lot of used textbooks in our school. The cost of NEW books is very high. Used books will no longer be available due to testing requirements. This law had good intentions HOWEVER the unintended consequences of this law is costing our county far more that it should.

Connie Ballas

January 14, 2009 09:00 AM

I am a mom and owner of a childrens resale store in Naperville, Illinois. The CPSIA affects me personally in a very big way, potentially putting me out of business. My comments below are not based on my personal situation.

I think John Tozzi's comment above creates the starting point ("One of the things I'm trying to determine is how much lead poisoning risk toys and clothes actually do pose"). Once you determine that, you can move forward to prohibit truly dangerous items(although shouldn't that apply to all items for all people anyway?). Probably few items will fall in this category.

Then on the others, inform the consumer of the level of risk and let them decide. Large manufacturers can adhere to the new testing standards and small ones just issue a warning that they have not. They could state the common sense methods they do use. And ultimately, the end user can decide. Those that find even a small risk unacceptable can choose only products that go through the rigorous testing, similar to those that now seek out organic produce and products made from all natural materials. Others can make choices that suit their level of risk taking. Every day we make choices on behalf of ourselves and our families that expose us to risks. Where we live, what we eat, everything we touch. You can't legislate 100% safety.


January 14, 2009 09:02 AM

My concern is that if they can do this to one group, they will do it to more - who is to say they won't be requiring all fine artists to test their paint/art/supplies for hazardous materials?


January 14, 2009 09:34 AM

Please realize that this is so much MORE THAN TOYS!! It's CLOTHING, TOO, for pete's sake! What is America going to do when they can't get affordable clothing or diapers to put on the backs and bums of their kids? Kids will play with anything..put them in front of a pile of tupperware and they can play for hours. Or give them a sheet for a cape....but all the clothing will be pulled from the shelving, too. And it's ridiculous to think this won't put 'big companies' out of business, too. They won't be able to survive this either. The overhead will make their lines unaffordable and unappreciated by the American consumer. I personally can't stay alive in my business. I'm on the way out thanks to the Nancy Pelosi's of this world! the American people have to take charge of this themselves...and it will only happen in the voting booth..or will it??? We've all seen how 'fair' that has become. Cheating to stay in office..or to get in there in the first place. Only to wreak havoc on the rest of us. If you think disposable diapers are expensive now....just wait.


January 14, 2009 09:49 AM

For the last 13 years I have been sewing and selling doll clothes for a living. It is my only source of income. My business really expanded when sites like ebay and etsy came on the scene and made it possible to sell my items all over the world. I only became aware of the impact of this new legislation last week. I immediately began writing letters to my legislators, my customers, other crafters, and signed online petitions. Unfortunately, many out there don't understand the ramifications of this law and are living in blissful denial. "It's too bad to be true" is the reaction I'm getting from people who should be very concerned. Who is going to enforce this? What happens to shelves of uncertified items on toystore shelves and racks of uncertified clothes? What happens to little online stores like mine, Feb 10? I never could have dreamed a nightmare like this. Selling doll clothes will become illegal in America.

Jen of babycheeksboutique

January 14, 2009 11:25 AM

I have worked in the juvenile industry designing infant and toddler feeding products for a large children's mfr, I'm a parent of 2 small kids under 5 and I now own a small business designing children's clothing and accessories. And like others, I'm trying to get the word out anyway I can.

As a parent, I want safe products for my children--regardless of who made them or where they were made. Unfortunately, this ill-conceived, feel-good law did nothing to change any of that. Most people don't know this, but the big toy guys stopped using phtalates a long time ago (and they can't use them on infant products) and as for the lead issues--the big toy guys test their products for lead and phtalates and other issues (small parts, etc) before they launch and then periodically after that, to keep the mfr honest. That is how the lead was discovered in the recalls on '07. The employees of these "big bad" toy companies have kids too--and all of them shop at the company store and by the company's products. They don't want to see kids hurt either. The CPSC is understaffed and underfunded and can barely police the companies it has under its juristiction. This broad law, designed for the big toy guys, will not change a thing. They will continue to run things the way they always have. Their costs are not affected in any major way. But because of the ridiculously huge scope of this law, individuals, small and some medium sized children's businesses who pose little to no risk due to the materials that are used, etc. and who can not afford the testing will disappear. It's a feel good-law that makes no one feel good!


January 14, 2009 11:37 AM

I've had my share of space, but really would like to add that it has been wonderful and fascinating to see how designers and artisans have banded together to discuss product safety.

One thing few of us ever mentions is that most of us have long produced goods without thought to real compliance with safety laws already in place. At best, many shop owners simply toss a disclaimer into the air "not intended for children under the age of three"

Now, all of a sudden, we are acutely aware of our levels of compliance. I think the biggest chunk of good that may come from this is the level of safety education and collaboration now available to the average consumer and small business owner. Unfortunately, a lot of the information is garbled as we try to interpret it.

Taking this as a lesson, on the micro business level we need outreach programs, not enforcement. We already care- just show us what exactly we need to be caring about.


January 14, 2009 11:57 AM

In this economy we should be encouraging entrepreneurship and "buy American" instead of discouraging it! The irony is that the very companies that were responsible for the lead scare in the first place are the only ones that will survive this legislation!

I make fabric toys and sell them on I will be out of business on Feb. 10th.

Angela Tucker

January 14, 2009 11:58 AM

The CPSIA is a disaster for handcrafters, small importers, small exporters and in the end-the consumer. I work for a small importer, we import wooden toys of impeccable quality from and award winning manufacturer who only manufacturs to order. There are over 200 items in their catalog and at a cost of $500 - $5000 to test several pieces (some labs require up to 12 samples of an item for testing) from every batch created, there is just no way we can afford it. We will be forced to streamline our imports by more than half-this is assuming that our exporter will agree to the new tracking labels and compliance rules. In addition the February 10 deadline is just absurd! Most companies-large and small stock inventory months in advance. It's just not feasible for companies to test old inventory. $100k worth of product at a minimum of $500.00 per item to test...well you might as well close your doors, because you'll go bankrupt trying to comply! This country is already in economic free fall. This law is going to cause a lot more business casualties and thousands more lost jobs. Those who find a way to comply will HAVE to pass the costs on to consumers. This will mean much less variety, and only the well off will be able to purchase unique items. Several foreign exporters have already pulled out of the US market because the costs are simply too great, so we can see this law has global implicaitons. I hope this law is repealed or at least amended with the input of the Toy Industry Association.

Nancy Beecher

January 14, 2009 12:41 PM

I believe that all paints, sealants and stains in this country have been without lead since the early 60's at least. The EPA has control over that testing and those chemicals require certification. The manufacturers that mix the paint can cite those EPA tests showing that their product does not contain lead. Why can't we? We need an easy way to cite previous tests. This would work for paints, stains, dyes, etc.
I also don't understand why it would be necessary to have redundancies in manufacturing. I don't think that painters or tye dye artists are in the habit of adding to the purchased product. Other than adding perhaps tap water.
I do believe that the consumer's voice has not been heard because they are unaware of the law or the consequences that will no doubt ensue. Costs will rise. Big business is not going to take it on the chin, they will forward the cost of testing to the marketplace. And there will not be an option of somewhere else to go.
Ecologists have not weighed in either. What will the disposal of all those children's products made prior to Feb. 10 do to the landfills?
How about State Taxes? I pay state sales tax on my business, plus I have other business taxes. If I can't continue along with so many other small businesses, Goverments including our Federal Government will be bankrupt before the end of 2009.

Thanks for asking.


January 14, 2009 12:46 PM

HR-4040 is too broad and goes too far in correcting gaps in safety, turning a reasonable concern over safety procedures into a fear of everything in the market today. The range of children’s products regulated by HR-4040 is vast: toys, footwear, carpets, clothing, bedding, luggage, lamps, books, consumer electronics, school supplies, video games, DVDs, office supplies, jewelry, housewares, sports equipment, and so on.

Yet a toothbrush, which is designed and intended to be placed into a child’s mouth is exempt from the law.

The law is crazy. Granted, I want protection against real risks, but I don’t want to choke our economy with needless regulation that produces nothing, but business inefficiency. It could not have been Congress’ intent to destroy all businesses associated with children’s products, and products that might be used by a child. But that is what will happen if the law is not changed…not just for thrift shops, but everyone in the business of selling children’s products.

There were adequate laws in effect prior to CPSIA, but they were not followed or enforced. Compliance with the old law was what was needed.

Carol Hornblower

January 14, 2009 12:53 PM

Everyone I know who works as a small business person/handcrafter supports laws that protect children. In the design and material sourcing for my line of fleecewear, I am committed to the selection of materials that are durable, and those which will protect the safety of the wearer (particularly when creating products for young children). In doing so, I have willingly accepted the higher cost of doing business.

This law, as written, bypasses the suppliers of fabric and notions, and places the burden of proof of compliance solely on the seller of the final product. Not only will the cost of testing/labeling/recordkeeping put me (and many other crafters of handmade goods) out of business, it also will fail in its protective efforts as children will continue to wear/use products made, not for sale, but by family/friends.
A thoughtful rewrite of this law is in order to provide both true protection for children, and for the many small businesses/handcrafters that provide goods to them.

Warren Baker

January 14, 2009 12:58 PM

These new regulations are classifying BMX racing bicycles that our Team USA Olympic athletes rode in Beijing as toys. These bicycles have a wheel diameter smaller than 24 inches thus they are classified as toys by CPSA and they will have to be tested. What is worse is each part on a complete bike will have to be tested too. And if a bike model comes in more than one color each color of bike is tested. Because the way the law is written, a manufacturer has to test each SKU (Size and color, even if the yellow complete bike, red complete bike and blue complete bike all have the exact same parts). For a complete bike, that testing can run between $4000-$7000 per SKU to test all required parts (down to spoke nipples and valve stems). These bicycles are high end race bikes not toys. And while we do have children as young as 3 racing BMX, I have run a BMX race track for years and have yet to see a child eating paint off a bike or mouthing a tire like a teething ring.

Originally, it was thought that each production run would have to be tested (so if you have five models in five colors each, that's 25 tests @ $5,000ea=$125,000 in testing fees, plus the cost of the product itself). If you have to do it for each production run, then the smaller companies who only bring in 500 bikes or so at a time have to amortize that $125,000 in testing over 500 bikes (which adds a whopping $250 to the cost of EACH bike), whereas a company who brings in bigger volume can amortize that cost over more bikes (resulting in a smaller "tax' per unit).

There have been rumblings that if a bike has the exact same components and paint...and NOTHING has changed from one order to the next, you can get away with using the same certificate for multiple orders. I have not seen official writings on this, but people in the bike industry who are in the know on this topic say it's pointing in that direction.

If the theory that testing is only required on Mini and Jr. products (since they are primarily marketed to kids under 12), and a "Test is good until spec changes" both prove to be accepted by CPSC, then we are looking at a much smaller impact than originally thought, which is great.

That does, however, leave a big question of what will become of inventory that is already on store shelves. There is not enough lab capacity in the world as it stands to test the millions of SKUs in the Toy, Apparel, Publishing and other industries who are affected (like us). Yet the law is retroactively applied.

The other thing nobody is talking about is the extreme environmental impact that tens of millions of tests will have. (tens of millions, because each component of a SKU, say a kid's zipper hoodie, has to be the fabric, the zipper, the drawstring, the plastic tips on the drawstring and any adornments, such as screen printing ink, each have to be tested, for each size and color of a given product).

Apparently, the only way to properly perform some of these tests is to dissolve the product in acid, and analyze the fumes emitted therefrom for the lead content. That is a lot of acid, and a lot of destroyed products ending up somewhere (landfill, recycling plant, whatever).

So, it may not work out to be as bad for the BMX industry as originally feared, but as consumers, get ready to pay more for almost everything you buy, as manufacturers amortize the costs of this across their entire product line.

Thank you for your time and your concern with this issue is a valid one to be sure. At a time when money is tight and jobs are becoming scarce the unintended consequences of this new rule shall be devastating to small businesses and consumers alike.

Industry Sites:


Warren Baker
BMX Track Operator


January 14, 2009 01:00 PM

Thank you Cynthia Broockman and Claudia Van Dyke, Silken Sky for your comments! Exactly my sentiments & stated so well.

Claudia's note is massively important and has huge relevance for micro entrepreneurs:

'CPSA stated that the economic impact to small businesses would be too small to consider following the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, which protects small businesses like mine from laws directed at big business
( ).'

Contrary to the CPSA position, the economic impact on small businesses, including artisans/craftspeople, home-based cottage industries & other micor enterprises, is devastating AND immediate. This is not something coming on February 10, it is here now.

However, if my take of the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 is accurate, the CPSIA should in practice be null and void re: micro manufacturers if there are no other existing and overarching statutes governing that particular product, i.e. flammibility standards for childrens sleepwear, et al.

Effectively, I am out of business and unemployed NOW and quite involuntarily. I have already lost much income due to this untenable law. To continue making of my very limited production and one of a kind children's clothing is senseless if a legal market disappears in a few weeks. And I cannot afford the costs of testings as cited in other comments. It is absolutely not a consideration and ridiculous in any event due to the nature of my textile product lines to begin with.

The greater point is that the onus of testing my fabric, thread, buttons, zippers, bias tape, and every possible component I use in childrens clothing construction, should be borne by the mega corporations that produce those products. Burdening the micro buiness is passing the buck at its worst and wholly unconscionable.

I should be my studio working on my Spring 2009 line, not spending countless hours trying to unravel this mess and scrambling to figure out where my next 'paycheck' is going to come from.

And it is ironic, too. I started my business because the employment market is so dismal and persuing traditional employment opportunities was proving to be a dead end.

Unless the CPSIA is either amended to protect small businesses or revoked and rewritten with some awareness of reality, unemployment numbers in the U.S. will rise dramatically in a very short time.

As a past presidential stratigist quipped in the 90s, 'it's the economy, stupid'.

Sharon Lang

January 14, 2009 01:02 PM

This will destroy home based businesses that craft unique items for children, period. These are often parents who choose to stay home and raise their children but pay the bills with their small home based business at the same time. Best of both worlds. Put them out of business because they cannot afford the testing, they then have to find a "real" job, of which there aren't any right now, and put more kids into day care. What will really happen is that they will all end up in the street in this economy. The products they make don't even contain lead anyway unless maybe they make jewelry. There are already laws in place in this country that paints and dyes have to be tested and any hazardous substances have to be listed on the MSDS and on the label. These folks are mainly using paints and dyes on cotton clothing, wood, etc. which are already certified non-toxic according to ASTM-D4326 and ACMI AP rules. To re-test stuff dyed and painted with those products is ridiculously redundant. Let's just have all of our kids live naked in a bubble with no toys. Oops, plastic!

Sarah, Little Things Boutique

January 14, 2009 01:08 PM

I am a mother of three, and have sold baby items online for the past four years.

Hilary makes a very good point in that small/micro businesses don't always have the resources to track down and interpret current regulations. We all have used more of a common-sense approach to what we make and how to keep it safe for kids (and many of us put a great deal of thought and testing with our own children and friends' children).

My small business is threatened by the CPSIA. I make bibs, blankets, and some soft toys, all made with materials that are widely and readily available to the general market.

Aside from my own personal business, I am concerned about the ripple effects on the already-stressed economy. From my business' standpoint: my suppliers (located all across the country), the USPS, and my home state (loss of sales tax). On a personal level from loss of income: my mortgagor and other creditors, local grocery and clothing stores, state and federal income tax, to name but a few. Also of concern, secondhand stores (although they may be exempted for clothing), charities, schools (higher costs for certain products), and libraries (including schools). I know my list is by no means complete.


January 14, 2009 01:22 PM

Thank you Sarah- I'd like to add my voice in emphasizing that we (as micro businesses) haven't operated in total disregard for safety, but have used a common-sense approach in working toward product safety.


January 14, 2009 03:01 PM

This is sadly going to result in a total loss of income for all self employed individuals making handmade children's toys, accessories an clothing as well as a loss of availability to consumers of creative toys made with natural materials or traditional crafting techniques unless something is done.


January 14, 2009 03:38 PM

I only recently started a home based business on Etsy making childrens items, (hair clips, blankets, clothing.) and now I am being told I will have to close my shop. I am a mother of two children and this income is invalueable to me. I realize the need for safety in childrens products, but this is ridiculous!

This law will put me out of business and cut off a valuable tool for me to help make a living for my children. Why is the small business owner being punished for the acts of greedy large manufacturers? Isn't the economy stressed enough with out the added burden of this unthought through law?

Large manufacturers should bear the burden of testing their supplies before they are bought by the consumer. I always take safety into consideration when making my products. The only people losing here are the small businesses of the U.S and our children. The trickle down effect to our nation will be devastating for everyone!


January 14, 2009 04:49 PM

CPSIA is the law of unintended consequences. In a time when work is scarce and the economy is poor it makes not sense to write law that shuts done small business across our country. Handmade children's toys will no longer exist due to the expensive and unnecessary testing required. This law needs to take of the problem not create a bigger problem!


January 14, 2009 05:36 PM

This may have been said already in the previous fantastic, thoughtful and intelligent posts above, but one big issue for CONGRESS to consider while they are taking absolute power back from the 2 unelected bureaucrats that make up the CPSIA, so they can rewrite HR4040 is REDUNDANT TESTING. Many people have mentioned the lead standards for paint that have been in place since before many of us were born. There are also GOTS, which set standards about 300% higher than the CPSIA standards in order to call something "certified organic".
Honestly, I think that the only thing that is surprising to Congress is that we are not a bunch of hippies making hemp dolls in our sheds. Not that there's anything wrong with hippies making hemp dolls in their sheds, but I really don't think that Rep. Bobby Rush could have imagined the enormous, reasonable, intelligent response of this community when he was writing it with all of those great intentions of his. He should have chipped in with Motrin for a focus group before he bit off this one.

Jonathan Stewart

January 15, 2009 03:34 AM

Everything stated above is correct, because even the guidance to one industry is vague, misleading, and trying to pass the buck. As far as answering your question, one resale/consignment shop (not sure which) had the Washington Toxics Coalition come by and test items in her store. Here's the post, I'm sure you could follow-up with the owner. In a nutshell, 3 items didn't meet requirements. But the redundant testing requirements, along with the expense (north of $40,000 for a machine) that's a screening tool, and then it's an X-ray machine to boot (so trading likely non-existent lead exposure for certain X-ray exposure, my pregnant wife will be thrilled).

Stephanie Hall

January 15, 2009 09:46 AM

Please vote for my idea, Protect Small Businesses from CPSIA ruling over children’s products, I submitted on the website’s Citizen’s Briefing Book. With enough votes, this will get presented to Obama.

Protect Small Businesses. Save Handmade


January 15, 2009 10:15 AM

Isn't this for the safety of our children?
This is typical evil opportunist at work.

Evil tyranny 101 time.
(Stage 1 of plan) People are made aware of an issue through bombardment of media which is controlled by tyrannical powers.
(Stage 2 of plan) People are worried now their daily lives have been interrupted with something so terrible that it's on the TV, in the papers, articles, and blogs. What ever shall we do!! Who is big enough to help us??
(Stage 3 of plan) Enter government.
(Stage 4 of plan) People are relieved because someone is handling it. Normal life can go on.
(Stage 5 of plan) Enter the controlling power who instigated plan. Big business.
(Stage 6 of plan) Come up with a law that will close the doors on thousands of small businesses who have been responsible for detouring millions from big business. Consumer Safety Improvement Act.
(Stage 7 of plan) Sell the new law to Americans by telling them 'it's for the children'. Threaten industries who challenge the new law by saying "If they oppose the law they are for hurting children".
(Stage 8 of plan) Begin next campaign of fear through media to distract the masses as new law goes into effect.
(Stage 9 of plan) Prepare for bigger business with more slave labor from places people can't see on a daily basis.
(Stage 10 of plan) Reward government in secret.
(Stage 11 of plan) Review plan daily to assure all checks remain in place. Bigger business at the lowest dollar spent, evil government minions have more controlling power over the people, and markets fully controlled.

This plan is being repeated in other industries as well.
In the above article, basically France has said no many times to genetically modified foods but Monsanto who is the big business of that industry wants the money being diverted to natural homegrown. Monsanto got mad and went to the EU and did the evil government thing mandating France except genetically modified foods. Now France is paying millions in fines to the EU for not complying.
In the last 8 years people have been learning about the terrible condition of the food that is consumed. Big business and evil government have been working together to create a nation of sick people to profit from through nutrition or rather the lack of it. Big business is furious with the millions lost every day to homegrown items. Evil government is furious of the areas not fully controlled.

With food supplies tainted at so many levels good supplements are needed today.

The end result of this law is many small American business' will be shut down.
The 30's & up generations in America grew up with lead water pipes, paint, and a host of other lead & other 'unsafe' products. Are we all suffering the results of 'exposure'? No. The suffering of most ailments today can be linked to chemicals ingested like high fructose corn syrup, fluoride, nitrite, & other government 'safe' items. Or just the lack of asserted blood flowing physical movement that the majority of Americans seem to covet.
Whining to the government to protect us only results in tyranny. Politicians only care about opportunity to control & profit this law does both.

Cynthia Broockman

January 15, 2009 11:07 AM

For the FIRST time an actual person from the CPSC or the government appeared on TV in front of media - the, I believe, sacrifical lamb, J. Vallese (she resigned, last day tommorrow) Can legislators not SEE what we are dealing with? Those in the resale industry ARE retailers. I belong to the National Retail Federation for pete's sake. This interview completely contradicts their big 'Press Release' to 'clarify' their positin for the resale industry that was issued very craftily (gave it to tv media before posting to RSS Feed - a day later) to squelch the uproar from our industry and the public over the issue, and to 'appear' to have 'done' something about the issue. They had not.

But the media picks up sound bites, which they counted on, and less diligent reporters fell for the ploy.

Now, here, the CPSC through Vallese puts their foot in their mouth once again and appears to chastise 'mommy-bloggers' as the culprit for spreading misinformation about the law. What an insult.

Watch the video here:

WHEN will someone in Congress step forward and lead the fight against this insanity?


January 15, 2009 11:44 AM

What about a government bail-out plan for someone like me who sells hand-made children's clothing?


January 15, 2009 01:41 PM

I just saw Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) on Fox News (he's the GOP Deputy Whip)stating that the GOP is meeting to get resolutions to present to Obama regarding boosting the economy.

McCarthy states the 'best way to boost the economy is to invest in small business and grow jobs.' What a novel idea right?? I just called his DC office and asked the lady that answered the phone 'if investing in small business is their ultimate goal, why are they KILLING small business by allowing the CPSIA to not be ammended before 2/10/09?' I was met with a long ...uhhhh....followed by silence. To which I followed up with 'the trickle down effect is mind boggling that it is NOT just the small home crafters effected it is the small business suppliers that we buy from for items used to make our products that will suffer and I considered his comment a slap in the face and complete hypocrasy. She said she would pass it on and I advised her to brace for more phone calls regarding this issue and how I took his statements.

Please call his office as well as the rest of the GOP reps that are meeting today regarding 'small business being the key to the econonmy being turned around. Blast this on all blogs that you can.


January 15, 2009 02:21 PM

I am shaking. I just got off the phone with "Rob" from the office of Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), and not only did he act like I was the first person to bring it up, he told me that I should be safe, so don't worry about it. And he got mad at one point, responding to me saying that this is a poorly written law "oh, so you should be allowed to sell products with lead in them?" URGGGGHHHH!!!! So which is it, Rob, I "should be ok", or because I don't have my ORGANIC materials tested by CPSIA labs, they automatically have lead in them? I am going to lose my mind.
Just waiting for the knock at my door with the mobile bar-code tattoo gun.


January 15, 2009 03:36 PM

It would make more sense to mandate and regulate component testing. It makes no sense for multiple small companies who use the same components to each have them tested. It would be a tremendous waste of resources and money. The safety of our kids is a priority but the lack of reasonable definition in this law will further debilitate our economy like a domino effect. In addition to limiting choices, it will make many small business go out of business and thus not have the financial resources to invest intheir communities. Many will lose their homes, income, insurance, any disposable income...It's an prime example of people who couldn't be more detached from the real world instituting policy.


January 15, 2009 03:59 PM

The new CPSIA regulations are unfair, unaffordable, inflexible and damaging to small and moderate companies who already use components that comply with the standards and have documents from suppliers stating so.

As a nurse and a mom, like other parents, I care deeply care about the health and well being of all children. My husband and I own a baby product company. Great care has gone into choosing the components for our goods.

Our products are made in the USA. We pay fair wages and employ 34 employees.
We manufacture soft goods, blankets, bibs, towels. Our cotton flannel meets Oeko Tex Standard 100 and we also use GOTS certified organic cotton. Even so, our products will require 3rd party testing. We have certification from our suppliers stating our components comply with CPSIA regulations. Even so, our products will require 3rd party testing. These are perfect examples of the redundancy and areas of the law that need to be amended.

The new labeling aspect of the law going into affect in August, also needs to be amended. It was intended for large corporations who manufacture at multiple facilities and ship by huge container loads. The logistics of permanent labeling with all the requirements printed as per the labeling law will make it incredibly difficult for small companies who manufacture in small batches. The rules need to be adjusted to be more flexible for small manufactures.

The amending of this law is critical to the well being of our already stressed and downward spiraling economy. The ripple effect of this law, as it is written, will be devastating to Americans.
It needs to be changed without delay to be more reasonable and practical so Americans can continue to produce goods, employ people, make a living and thrive.

Joan Wilson

January 15, 2009 05:58 PM

Our group, The Fairy Godmothers of Fayetteville, NC makes preemie hats and booties and donates to our local hospital for their premature babies. It's all volunteer, members pay for their supplies. Are we going to be out of business, too????


January 15, 2009 07:47 PM

I've been blogging about this, and initially I didn't think it directly impacted me- I am not a crafter.

I am a parent (I have seven Progeny, including one multiply handicapped child), and my youngest is ten.
But I do supplement our income by selling used books- I buy used books for us, I am something of an addict, and sell off the surplus. I have a 19 year old daughter who sews and crafts and is just starting her business. My oldest girl sold used books all through juniro high school and high school for spending money, clothing money, and book money- she would now be a felon.

As a parent, what I want is for Congress to stop toxic products at the source- which is nearly entirely imports from Asian countries like China, Indonesia, etc. and stop trying to be the mother instead of me.

It's idiotic to have different crafters and cottage industries test each different component and then the final product.
Imagine seven etsy sellers in my town. They each crochet different items, one does booties, one stuffed toys, one baby dresses, one doll clothes, one socks, one hair scrunchies, and does blankets. They ALL buy their yarn at the same local shop. The each have to pay to test their yarn separately, and then when finished, they have to pay to test the finished product again, even if none of the yarns or stuffing had lead or phthalates. And then they each have to devise a permanent label with all the info the government wants to attach to their products.
So the same batch of yarn, tested 14 different times in just my tiny example. Multiply it exponentially. It's stupid. The yarn should be tested by the company that makes and dyes the yarn- once, not thousands of tests required by forcing every single person who sells something made from that one run of yarn to run duplicate tests.


January 15, 2009 08:42 PM

Found this on another major blog re: CPSIA activism. PLEASE everyone get on the phone first thing in the morning and call all your reps and get your specific questions out there BEFORE this meeting! We've got their attention now let's follow thru and get them to make some sensible and permanent changes!!!

January 13, 2009

Briefing for Congressional Staff on the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act

Dear Colleague:

Confusion has arisen recently regarding the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. Due to inaccurate reporting, some congressional offices have received phone calls from concerned constituents who believe they may be adversely impacted by the new law. For instance, some thrift store operators believe they may be forced to stop operating because of the new law. This belief, among others, does not reflect the actual requirements of the law.

In order to clear up confusion and allow you to share concerns raised by your constituents, we invite your staff to a briefing on the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act and its implementation.

At 2:00 p.m., on Friday, January 16, 2009, in room 2123 of the Rayburn House Office Building, staff from the Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection of the Committee on Energy and Commerce will discuss current issues in implementation of the law.

If you have any questions about this briefing, please contact Valerie Baron of the Subcommittee staff at 225-2927.


Henry A. Waxman
Committee on Energy and Commerce

Bobby L. Rush
Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection

Eric H

January 15, 2009 10:52 PM

When this thing started last year ~ September, October, one of the constants was that I would come home in the evening, scour the 'tubes for news stories and/or blog posts, and then leave a comment. I was almost always the first commenter. I must have doubled the number of sites at which I am registered just so I could comment. I started collecting them at the forum. But somewhere in there, the Twitter thing took off. Now, I am finding this story long after it first went up and I am a late commenter. Hooray! It's working. Thanks to all who have joined in and pressed on. Twitter/EHUSMAN


January 16, 2009 01:48 PM

As a Canadian retailer of handmade, US-made and small-scale toys, baby slings, cloth diapers and some infant apparel, I am concerned about how this will affect my business and me as a consumer. I am also a parent who shops online at US stores and buys from Etsy regularly. I would like to know if this will affect our Canadian manufacturers who sell to US retailers, in a way that will affect our business (eg. if the bulk of their sales are to US retailers and these regulations are cost-prohibitive to them, will this shut them down, in turn depriving us of product options?). I also want to know how this will affect us as buyers of US-made goods.


January 16, 2009 05:19 PM

I believe the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act should be applied to the companies that cause the problem in 2007 (big toy companies that produced their products in "cheap / unsafe / unregulated" factories -most of them in China).
I own a small line of clothes and shoes for babies and children. My products are mostly hand made in small atteliers by South American artisans.
I already produced (and paid)all my Spring Collection that will be arriving in USA on February and as I will not be able, by any means, to afford the tests, I will have to keep the production in their boxes and close my bussines.
I am also a mother of 2 young kids very concern about the possiblity of lead poissoning.... with cheap toys or some plastics, no with clothes or shoes!!!!!

Robin Ishmael

January 16, 2009 06:31 PM

I am owner and only employee of a commercial/home embroidery business. I supply embroidery and heat pressed applied products to garments and bags. I have two other relatives that on their own are a home commercial embroiderer and a handcrafted "Etsy" products seller (solely crafting products for children 12 years and under).

My business relies on the school boosters and athletic organizations for their small 1-24 piece orders in a variey of sizes and colors and embellished or personalized making many of them one of a kind. 90% of my business is based on products intended for children 12 years and under.

The question has been asked that when the individual components of the end product are certified lead and phthalate safe, why do we need to retest the finished product. One suggestion was that when you add the lead values of each component to the other components then the total levels of lead and phthalates may not be acceptable. Ex: one component has 400ppm lead and another component has 50 ppm and the third component has 125ppm and the last component may have 80ppm. The total of all part, although individually safe, combined they total 655ppm. Deeming the item too high in total lead content.

I will have to verify that every component I use, threads, backings, bobbins, sprays, appliques, toppings, transfers, films, rhinestones and garments purchased through major blanks vendors are safe. And then retest the end product.

Testing 1 pc. runs or 6 pc. runs with that many components will be cost prohibitive. Not to mention the mandatory labeling cost. The end product will be unaffordable to the consumer. The small silk-screening businesses everywhere are in the same boat.

Not on will I but my suppliers will be forced to go out of business. The law's crippling domino effect was not thought out and will certainly be felt in every community.


January 16, 2009 10:15 PM

I am also a small home-based clothing manufacturer. I design,sew and sell everything myself. My business is what puts food on the table, pays the mortgage, my electric bill and puts gas in the tank. Just like many other cottage industry businesses. I don't know what to do. I've called and emailed politicians and the CPSC. The politicians gave me the brush off and the CPSC just never returned my calls.I don't know what to do. My husband lost his job in November and we were counting on this income in the spring to help us keep our home.And what about all the money so many of us has tied up in supplies for our products? Goobermint gonna gives us a bailout?!! Well, they can keep their bailouts, just get out of the way and let the American people fix this ourselves!

What I wonder is what would happen if all the cottage industries in the United States banded together and just said "NO!" to this stupid law and continued on with the already safe products we our producing. They can't put us all in jail!


January 17, 2009 07:35 PM

As a children's jewelry company based in the United States, I understand that the majority of recalls have been from children's children's jewelry that is. Items that have been mass-produced overseas. One of the reasons I began my business 5 years ago was to offer handmade "in the USA" products. As a mother to three children under seven, my business was founded on creating quality, hand-crafted products as an alternative for cheap junk offered. Now it seems that the foreign manufactures will reign, as they are the only ones able to afford the mandatory 3rd party testing required in August. Am I against 3rd party testing? Absoluteyly not. But to have to test the same product over and over that has the same components, doesn't make much sense. So, out handmade in the USA products, and hello mass-produced junk! Doesn't make much sense to me, but hey, what do I know...I'm just a Mom.


January 18, 2009 09:36 PM

I've spent five years developing my online and local "presence" selling mothter daughter matching nightgowns. Google it ... I'm probably #1 or at worst maybe #2 or #3. This act will put me out of business and that's alot of hard work down the drain thanks to the ignorance of the authors of CPSIA and those who voted for and passed the law. It's almost funny when you think about it. Here they are, trying to "protect" children, all the while putting many momtrepreneurs out of business. That's really healthy for our children, isn't it?

Linda Kessler

January 19, 2009 01:45 AM

The CPSIA is a poorly written law and stands to put millions of American businesses out of business. It not only affects handcrafters of clothes and toys, it affects handcrafters of childrens' jewelry as well. Swarovski crystals, while they contain lead, are not harmful to children. Swarovski crystals, like most other crystals, contain lead oxide.
Lead creates the refraction of the crystal with the maximum
refraction at 30-32% lead content. Lead also adds to the weight
of the crystal giving it a more substantial feel. Austrian
Swarovski crystal contains approximately 32% lead. Full lead
crystal must contain above 30% lead oxide content in order to
be consider full lead crystal.

A statement from Swarovski Crystal-

Swarovski is the world leader in the manufacture of crystal for
industrial and consumer applications, including figurines and
jewelry. Our proprietary formulas and processes are based on
years of experience, and the quality of our products is
recognized throughout the world. Recently, there has been an
increased regulatory focus on potential human exposure to
lead from various consumer products, including jewelry. In
2006, the California Attorney General settled a lawsuit brought
in his state alleging exposure to lead from jewelry. The court
approved settlement agreement as well as the later legislatively
enacted Californian AB 1681 established limits for lead in
metals and several other components, with stricter standards
for jewelry intended for children 6 and younger. Significantly, in
recognition of the limited risk of availability of lead from crystal,
the settlement agreement standards as incorporated under
California AB 1681 allows the continued use of crystal without
limitation in jewelry not intended for children. For children 6 or
younger, up to 1 gram of crystal may be used in such jewelry.
Crystal has unique properties. While made with lead, the crystal
manufacturing process creates a matrix which greatly retards
the mobility of lead. By contrast, lead in other materials such as
unplated metal containing lead may be available for surface
exposures. Swarovski believes that the use of their products
poses no significant risk to human health. Swarovski crystals are not harmful for children to touch, hand to mouth or even ingestion, although they might have a sparkly diaper. They are used to handcraft children's jewelry and to embellish clothing and accessories. Swarovski has never had a claim that a child has been injured from their crystals. The NAM petition was well written and sought exemptions on many components and this is the best way to go for crafters.


January 19, 2009 10:55 PM

I am a woodworker and an avid toymaker. I design and construct toys for the pleasure and education of children. My toys have reached thousands of children in several states and Canada. I began to read this amended version of CPSIC and was aghast at the omnibus nature of it and the total lack of practicality of its enforcement parts. We must work to get this abomonation repealed immediately and insist that any legislation in this regard be made with knowledge of all aspects of the problem, and with consultation with representatives of these cottage industries and parents of the child-clients. This bill was obviously punched through in a self-righteous flurry by legislators who wish to save us, the poor untutored masses, from ourselves. To those of us who spend time to watch such things, it is not surprising. But it has to be stopped. We must write our legislative teams and keep on their cases until they respond. I do not think it is too small a matter to attempt to contact the new Sec'y of Commerce on this, or the chair of the committees on commerce in both houses.


January 22, 2009 08:16 PM

If the manufacturing industry was brought back to the United States this might eliminate alot of this problem.
With the textile and toy making among others. This would also create jobs and let the home made items still be allowable.
I think this law is way out of line and will put more people into poverty and unemployment,just what we need.

Janet Buller

January 24, 2009 05:06 PM

I'm still outraged. We need to do everything in our power to protect the small business owners who made and resell SAFE handmade American toys and clothes. President Obama, we are asking for your help.

Jody Robert

January 25, 2009 01:13 PM

The heart break of this impending law is that generations to come will never know the joy of making something with their own hands for the enjoyment of another or the love felt when receiving a hand made gift that was made especially for them.

Not all crafters sell their produdcts, many donate them to the various hospitals, chartities and other organizations that help children. This is special joy all by itself, knowing something you have made is helping another, keeping another safe and warm, a feeling that future generations will never know.

The making of hand made crafts will become a thing of the past. Skills taught to us by our mothers and grandmothers will be forgotten.

Handmade is love. It is a simple as that. HANDMADE = LOVE


January 29, 2009 07:11 PM

All of the children's small business market is at risk, not just handmade items. One book will cost you $300 to get tested under this regulation because the testing companies need to test the glue, ink and paper at $100/test. What happens when all of this inventory ends up in the trash!


January 31, 2009 03:44 AM

The CPSIA testing requirement is unreasonable.

Product testing as specified by CPSIA requires separate testing of each of the component parts of a children's product. Yet the language of the law does not permit testing of the separate components before assembly to qualify as testing of the product.

This is inherently illogical, unreasonable, and unsupportable. The public does not benefit from this requirement. Public safety is not improved. But laboratory income is increased.

Given that each separate test incurs significant cost, one wonders whether the authors and sponsors of the bill receive direct or indirect benefit from the few labs included on the short list of accredited testing laboratories.

New Jobs

February 6, 2009 04:49 PM

The government should mandate importers to hire internal Compliance staff based in US who register with CPSC. It would create many meaningful jobs in the US especially when we need job growth and it would let the sun shine in on trade.

Congress..please take this opportunity and create new meaningful jobs…..

Heather Idoni

February 24, 2009 11:04 PM


A friend and I wrote a Dr. Seuss style story about the CPSIA. We are being told it is a good avenue for the common Joe to begin to understand the impact of this crazy law.


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