Monday, February 9, 2009

CPSIA of 2008 - The Lead Law

The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 goes into effect on Tuesday, February 10, 2009. This law bans all lead-containing products that were manufactured for the use of children aged 12 and under. The ban is retroactive and includes all children's products past and present.

A week ago, CPSC announced a one-year stay on the ban, but a district court revoked that stay. The law goes into effect on Tuesday as originally planned. As I understand it, the law has not been rewritten or amended in any way, shape, or form, regardless of what people have claimed in the past month, and no products have been officially removed from the ban.

What does this mean? Basically, beginning on Tuesday, it will be illegal to sell any children's item that might contain lead, and the seller must have certification that the product is within the allowable limits. The only way to get certification is to have expensive tests run on all of the component parts of the item, not just the finished product.

Here is an excerpt of one of the CSPC press releases that supposedly clarified the situation:
The new safety law does not require resellers to test children’s products in inventory for compliance with the lead limit before they are sold. However, resellers cannot sell children’s products that exceed the lead limit and therefore should avoid products that are likely to have lead content, unless they have testing or other information to indicate the products being sold have less than the new limit. Those resellers that do sell products in violation of the new limits could face civil and/or criminal penalties.
Exactly how is one to know which products are likely to contain lead that exceeds the limit?

This is from the February 6, 2009 press release:
Manufacturers, importers, distributors, and retailers should also be aware that CPSC will:

* Not impose penalties against anyone for making, importing, distributing, or selling

o a children’s product to the extent that it is made of certain natural materials, such as wood, cotton, wool, or certain metals and alloys which the Commission has recognized rarely, if ever, contain lead;

o an ordinary children’s book printed after 1985; or

o dyed or undyed textiles (not including leather, vinyl or PVC) and non-metallic thread and trim used in children’s apparel and other fabric products, such as baby blankets.
The part that gets me is that CPSC states that there will be no penalties for "making, importing, distributing, or selling" "an ordinary children’s book printed after 1985." So does that mean that all children's books printed before 1985 must have the expensive testing done, even when the books are sold to collectors? Do they really think that children eat old books? Wouldn't children have more immediate problems than the possibility of lead poisoning if they eat old books?

I have avoided mentioning much that I could have, because I have trouble remembering all that I have read about this law. Quite frankly, everything I have read about this law makes my head spin.

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