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Cory Doctorow at BB writes:

Crafters are up in arms over a seemingly disastrous unintended consequence of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), which will require lab certification that lead and phthalates are not present in toys or clothes — sounds good, but crafters warn that this means that “a toymaker… who makes wooden cars in his garage in Maine to supplement his income cannot afford the $4,000 fee per toy that testing labs are charging to assure compliance with the CPSIA.” The law takes effect on February 10th and the toymakers and small clothing designers are getting very worried indeed.

From the Handmade Toy Alliance:

In 2007, large toy manufacturers who outsource their production to China and other developing countries violated the public’s trust. They were selling toys with dangerously high lead content, toys with unsafe small part, toys with improperly secured and easily swallowed small magnets, and toys made from chemicals that made kids sick. Almost every problem toy in 2007 was made in China.

The United States Congress rightly recognized that the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) lacked the authority and staffing to prevent dangerous toys from being imported into the US. So, they passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) in August, 2008. Among other things, the CPSIA bans lead and phthalates in toys, mandates third-party testing and certification for all toys and requires toy makers to permanently label each toy with a date and batch number.

All of these changes will be fairly easy for large, multinational toy manufacturers to comply with. Large manufacturers who make thousands of units of each toy have very little incremental cost to pay for testing and update their molds to include batch labels.

For small American, Canadian, and European toymakers, however, the costs of mandatory testing will likely drive them out of business.

Also read more at the Fashion Incubator.

Becky Stern

Becky Stern is head of wearable electronics at Adafruit Industries. Her personal site: sternlab.org


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Comments

  1. Josh B. says:

    If this new law will affect your every day crafter, it will definitely affect boutique fashion designers. I can think of a number of fashion designers who run established businesses in my locality who would also most likely be forced to shut their doors if this law goes into effect.
    And what about non clothing items like blankets? How far does this law extend? If it encompasses as much as it seems, then wouldn’t a massive portion of the sellers on Etsy become peddlers of illegal wares?

  2. Autumn says:

    Will there be some loophole so that places like Goodwill can stay in business? If so, then can we get around it by using reclaimed materials exclusively?

  3. tivogirl says:

    Just call it “fine art”, not a “hand carved wooden toy truck”.

  4. Sara says:

    This is also affecting cloth diaper sewers, who currently have a strong WAHM community. The rules state that the finished product must be tested, not individual components by *their* manufacturer.

  5. Anna Boone says:

    Even hand made items often use purchased components. For the handmade toy-maker this might mean paint, varnish, purchased screws, pins, springs, etc. The manufacturers of these items must have documentation on the content of the product. They are called MSDS sheets. These are legal documents that must disclose any hazardous content. In manufacturing, the buyer collects documentation of every item used to make the final product. This documentation can be used to certify the product. So if you make homemade cars, you could call your wood supplier and get their material statement, call the paint supplier, metal supplier, etc until you have a statement for every component. I am not familiar with this new legislation, but I say at least try to let the makers of the components do the work for you.

  6. jessica says:

    This is very upsetting. Further upsetting that it passed almost unanimously in Congress. This isn’t just children’s clothing, it’s *all* clothing.

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