A Ray of Sunshine – CPSIA and Small Business

January 11, 2009 | Daily News

On December 17th, I wrote my first article for Boutique Café.  It summarized the CPSIA and its effects on the handmade toy and clothing industry as well as the unintended consequences for a gamut of other businesses that sell or manufacture products for children 12 and under.  Fortunately there have been some positive developments to report since then.

For one, the media seems to be finally paying attention. News programs are reporting the ramifications of CPSIA, blog postings have a steady stream of calls-to-action, and newspapers big and small are focusing on the issue.  This needs to continue to make the public aware of the impact the legislation will have to small business if not amended.

The thrift and resale shops were given a reprieve yesterday with the CPSC’s press release which clarified that “sellers of used children’s products, such as thrift stores and consignment stores are not required to certify that those products meet the new lead limits, phthalates standard or new toy standards.”  It later goes on to state, “However, resellers cannot sell children’s products that exceed the lead limit and should avoid products that are likely to have lead content.”  And, “Those resellers that do sell products in violation of the new limits could face civil and/or criminal penalties.”

A particularly, promising statement for the handmade clothing sector was reported in the McHenry County Business Register, a Chicago area paper, by Hyacinth Filippi Worth.  As stated in the article, “Davis [CPSC Spokesperson Patty Davis] said all products intended for children 12 and younger must adhere, Davis also said hand-made, one-of-a-kind items likely will be exempt, which would allow small-time crafters and seamstresses of children’s products to continue making and selling original products.”  This is a promising assertion, but unfortunately is not an official ruling at this point.  I hope we can make it one.

On January 9th, a notice of proposed rule making was posted on the CPSIA web site (see Children’s Products Containing Lead: Proposed Determinations Regarding Lead Content Limits on Certain Materials or Products; Notice of Proposed Rulemaking under What’s New).  This preliminary ruling will possibly exempt the following natural materials provided that “these materials have neither been treated or adulterated with the addition of materials of chemicals such as pigments, dyes, coatings, finishes or any other substance, nor undergone any processing that could result in the addition of lead into the product or material.”
•precious and semiprecious gemstones
•natural or cultured pearls
•surgical steel
•precious metals:  gold (at least 10 karat); sterling silver (at
least 925/1000) platinum, palladium, rhodium, osmium,
iridium & ruthenium
•wood
•natural fibers such as cotton, silk, wool, hemp, flax & linen
•other natural materials such as coral, amber, feathers, fur &
untreated leather
This is a very positive development and hopefully a definite ruling.  However, it is just a start.  DO YOU KNOW ANYONE WHO USES UNDYED FABRIC?  Children’s apparel is about color.  There needs to be more exemptions.

The CPSC has formally requested comments.  The rules regarding testing are not final. Comments on testing methods (eight questions have been asked) are being accepted until January 30th and can be emailed to Sec102ComponentPartsTesting@cpsc.gov.  For a discussion on these questions, the Fashion Incubator forum is a great place to familiarize oneself.

I am hopeful that component testing will be allowed along with exemptions for all components which clearly are not a lead risk as well as excluding some products altogether (such as books, handmade clothing, second hand clothing).  I also hope that X-ray fluorescence (XRF testing) is permitted as a more reasonable (read nondestructive and inexpensive) testing method.

Please help in getting this amended.  Safe products are possible without the demise of small businesses in America.  At this point it is imperative to keep up the momentum.

1)    As mentioned in the article, satisfy the CPSIA’s request for comments by emailing them your thoughts on 3rd party testing methods.

2)    The Committee on Energy and Commerce sponsored CPSIA and it is the chairman of the Committee that can call hearings on this matter.  Let’s convince him to revisit this legislation by writing letters or calling (202-225-2927) to express your concern and how this law will affect you.  If you’ve already written them, please write them again.  Here are their names and addresses:

The Hon. Henry A. Waxman, Chairman
Committee on Energy and Commerce
2125 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

The Hon. Joe Barton, Ranking Member
Committee on Energy and Commerce
2322-A Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

The Hon. Bobby Rush, Chairman
Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection
2125 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

The Hon. Ed Whitfield, Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection
2322-A Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

3)    Continue CALLING and writing your congressmen and senators (Search by your zip code in the top left and right pages to find your representatives contact info.) Make sure they hear your views on this issue.  Mention the REGULATORY FLEXIBILITY Act and explain that because CPSIA burdens small businesses unfairly, that CPSIA needs to be amended.  Convince them to join their colleagues such as Congressman Charlie Dent, Congressman Jim Gerlach, Congressman Tim Holden,  Senator Orrin Hatch, Senator Patrick Leahy, and Congressman Anthony Weiner who have taken up our cause.

4)    The second round of voting has started at Change.org.  Register if you haven’t already and make this issue one of the top 3 items presented to President-elect Obama.

5)    Keep blogging about CPSIA and utilizing sites like facebook, twitter, and you tube.  The internet is a buzz with CPSIA.  Just google it.

6)    Join the mail-in protest, sending soon to be “hazardous goods” to CPSIA founder Rep. Rush.

7)    Take this survey to help ascertain the economic impact of CPSIA for retail and manufacturing businesses.  I beg to differ regarding the CPSC’s statement that “this action will not have any significant economic impact on small entities as under the Regulatory Flexibility Act.” (from a 12/23/08 CPSC memorandum entitled “lead procedures”.

And if you haven’t already . . .
8)    Sign this petition for the Children’s Apparel Industry and this one from the Handmade Toy Alliance.

9)    Visit the CPSIA “war room” and CPSIA Central to discuss get up to date news on the topic.

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