By now, there are probably very few people in the handmade product community who are not aware of the new CPSIA - Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. For my readers who haven't heard about this, in a nutshell it is a law enforcing stricter standards and testing for lead and phthalates in virtually every product made for children under twelve.
As a mother, I am concerned about the safety of anything I purchase for my son. The CPSIA as it is currently written, while I do believe was written with good intentions, will actually limit my choice of safe products as well as hurt families and independent artists.
The law requires testing of each component of each design of a finished product. My understanding is that even if two different designs use the exact same materials to make them, each of the finished products have to undergo complete testing because the design is different. I've seen prices running from $300 to test each component of a product. If a toy uses, say, wood, three colors of paint,and two sizes of screws, the testing alone could run at least $1800.
It is not that independent makers of children's products sell items made with unsafe materials. On the contrary, you'll find an abundance of products made with organic materials and natural, non-toxic finishes. It is the cost of the testing that causes the most concern.
There are many toy and clothing makers that sell on a small scale that will be put out of business by the prohibitive cost of testing. I personally want to have the choice to buy quality handmade products for my son. the CPSIA will severely limit my ability to do this. Even more so, I hate to think of how the owners of these small businesses will have to make up the lost income. In tough economic times, the last thing we need to do is limit the individual's ability to make money by making it impossible to produce products that, in reality do not pose a threat.
We have made progress in changing the law. Just yesterday there was a change made to it so that thrift and other second hand stores do not have to test their products. This is good news for all who use these shops to stretch their money. We still have a way to go, though, if we want to preserve the handmade clothing and toy industry in the U.S. Please vote at the right to have your voice of support heard and please, if you have not already, contact your representatives about the CPSIA.