I’ve heard that a new law is going to require me to test all the toys I make to ensure that they’re lead-free. What can you tell me about the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act?

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Q:

I've heard that a new law is going to require me to test all the toys I make for my grandchildren to ensure that they're lead-free. I can't afford that. What can you tell me about the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act?
—Howard Acheson, Southport, North Carolina

A:

There's no need to wortry about the toys that you make for your family, Howard. However, if you sell toys or other products intended for kids under 13, you might want to take a closer look at the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA).

Passed by Congress in reaction to lead-laden toys imported from China, the CPSIA requires manufacturers to test and certify that any products intended for children aged 12 and under meet the federal content requirements for lead and phthalates (a chemical used to soften plastics). Costs for the third-party laboratory testing can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars which has small manufacturers calling for fast reform before they are forced to close their doors.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has been charged with instituting the procedures necessary for compliance. Flooded with questions and concerns about the new law, the CPSC issued a one year stay of enforcement, pushing the deadline back to February 10, 2010, to allow time for clarification of the rules. The law, which initially passed with ease now has Congress squaring off for a battle with several members calling for the resignation of CPSC Acting Chairman Nancy Nord and others drafting legislation to reform the CPSIA. It's too early to predict the outcome for small toymakers, but keep an eye on the CPSC Web site for updates.