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Trouble In Toyland

Trouble In Toyland

This summer, Congress passed major legislation that will be overhauling our product safety system in 2009. The new law will increase safety standards and ban toxic levels of dangerous ingredients in toys, like lead and phthalates.

The law goes into effect in 2009, but toys with dangerous levels of lead and phtalates are still on toy store shelves this holiday season. The new law will strengthen the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), but not until spring.

Until then, we need to be vigilant of this year’s holiday toys–from toy cars to toy earrings. And unfortunately, there are some manufacturers who are trying to get the new law pushed back so they can continue to sell these toxic toys past the Feb. 10 deadline.

There is useful information out there about what to watch out for when purchasing toys this holiday season, along with everyday good sense ideas, like shopping for toy brands you know from retailers you trust, reading and following the age labels on toys, and supervising play.

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12 comments

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1:21PM PST on Jan 8, 2009

I was planning on selling cloth diapers and covers. I won't be able to do that. Thrift store sill go out of business. People with avrage incomes or less won't be able to cloth their kids, give them books, toys, etc.
This is NOT a good thing. Please, read and think before getting in an uproar when people are just trying to save themselves and the economy. February 10th has been labeled National Bankruptcy Day.

12:42PM PST on Dec 27, 2008

atasha- I received an email in my inbox about this article. Please stop pushing this ridiculous reform! I am all for safe toys for our children, as I'm sure everyone else is. This law, however, will put thousands of artists, crafters, and small businesses out of business. The impact on the economy will be devastating. As bad as it is now, if the CSPIA passes, it will only be worse.

I am a crafter. I make stuffed toys from fleece and designer fabric. They are soft with no hard plastic parts. The hundreds of parents who purchase these from me deem that they are safe for their children, but the CSPC will label them as dangerous after Feb. 10th. I use no items that contain lead or other toxins, but because I cannot afford the testing, my one woman company will be labeled a danger to children. I am creating these stuffed animals so that I can be a work at home mom, and raise my family in the way I feel is the best. The CSPC is going to take away my children's opportunity to have a stay at home mom.

Small businesses are not lobbying to keep the law from going into effect. We are asking for changes to be made so that we are not driven out of business by testing. We should not have to give up our American dream because greedy corporations chose to disregard the health and safety of our children. Let's work together to make sure our children are safe, and small businesses can remain intact!

Wren Yu

6:25PM PST on Dec 24, 2008

Rebecca, the law is far-reaching and complicated, and less than six weeks before we all become felons we still don't have details on HOW exactly we will need to comply. Small manufacturers need time to budget and plan.

You're right -- what some companies have done to betray people's trust is horrible. But these laws create so much redundancy, it's going to drive prices out of control.

Even though most of my prints were done at the same time on the same paper with the same equipment and inks I have to have each tested and certified separately. Four separate tests for each print.

Even worse, I make a lot of my income every year selling original one of a kind pieces. These pieces are pen and ink drawings that include 10 or more colors. The papers and inks I use are all fully certified and 100% safe for children. I'd seriously feed my children one of my paintings.

Under the new law, every time I sell a new painting I first must pay for a separate test for each individual color in the painting. It'll cost $1000 to certify a $100 painting. Would you spend $1100.00 on an 8x10" painting for your baby's room? Or even $500?

So yeah. It's not as simple as evil toy makers wanting extra time to shove more poison into babies' mouths. The great majority of us who are asking for extensions DO WANT to comply, but compliance needs to be clearly spelled out and not insanely redundant.

6:25PM PST on Dec 24, 2008

Rebecca, the law is far-reaching and complicated, and less than six weeks before we all become felons we still don't have details on HOW exactly we will need to comply. Small manufacturers need time to budget and plan.

You're right -- what some companies have done to betray people's trust is horrible. But these laws create so much redundancy, it's going to drive prices out of control.

Even though most of my prints were done at the same time on the same paper with the same equipment and inks I have to have each tested and certified separately. Four separate tests for each print.

Even worse, I make a lot of my income every year selling original one of a kind pieces. These pieces are pen and ink drawings that include 10 or more colors. The papers and inks I use are all fully certified and 100% safe for children. I'd seriously feed my children one of my paintings.

Under the new law, every time I sell a new painting I first must pay for a separate test for each individual color in the painting. It'll cost $1000 to certify a $100 painting. Would you spend $1100.00 on an 8x10" painting for your baby's room? Or even $500?

So yeah. It's not as simple as evil toy makers wanting extra time to shove more poison into babies' mouths. The great majority of us who are asking for extensions DO WANT to comply, but compliance needs to be clearly spelled out and not insanely redundant.

6:20PM PST on Dec 24, 2008

The new law does not protect children.

The new law requires brutally expensive and destructive testing for products that are already known to be safe.

The new law will put small and midsized companies out of business. These are the companies that make safe products now.

The new law will not put huge companies out of business. These are the companies that import toxic products now.

Anyone who supports this law is supporting companies that import lead-laced toys, and destroying companies that go out of their way not to.

Anyone who supports this law is nullifying reforms that protect children.

This law puts mommies and daddies out of work. Their children -- the most vulnerable among us -- will have no food to eat, let alone toys. Do you not have a job, or do you simply not have a soul?

5:59PM PST on Dec 24, 2008

"Do the people who want to keep manufacturing toys using these toxic chemicals not have children, or do they simply not have souls?"

Those of us who are protesting don't manufacture toys with toxic chemicals in the first place!!!!! I'm a mother of 2 special needs kids myself. I make and sell crocheted items, my materials and tools are US made acrylic yarns and aluminum or plastic crochet hooks. NONE of these items contain any toxic chemicals whatsoever, as they conform to CPSC regulations that are already in place. The problem we are having is NOT with the bans on lead and phthalates themselves, it's the impossibly expensive testing the new law is forcing on us! Let's get the emphasis back where it belongs, getting rid of unsafe IMPORTS. The government needs to funnel the extra funding CPSC is asking for toward hiring more Customs inspectors at our ports, not more inspectors whose job it will be to harrass domestic manufacturers into closing their doors because they can't comply with these ridiculous new testing mandates.

10:26AM PST on Dec 24, 2008

The thing is, the Chinese factories, will send their products to "approved labs" in China for testing, where the Chinese Government will pressure them to clear items whether or not they pass the testing.

The lack of quality control, employee protection, consumer protection, and environmental protections in China are hurting the people IN CHINA, as much or more than those of us who have a choice.

There is no way my hand made one of a kind plushie can be tested, and there is NO way a wool plushie, or cotton plushie, filled with polyfil can contain either lead or phylates.

If I use that same yarn to knit a sweater for a baby it will need to be tested as a separate item... even though my yarn producer is in the US, the EU or another first world nation, and my supplies have already been safety tested.

This law will leave consumers with NO OPTION, but to purchase the cheaply made, and possibly still toxic imported items, because locally made, and items from the first world nations (already complying with safety standards) will become unavailable.

8:32AM PST on Dec 24, 2008

I make organic baby blankets, changing pads and bibs AND the CPSIA will force me out of business!! the law states all products must be tested for lead and phthalates in the case of my organic cotton bibs. These tests can cost upwards of $700 per bib. Why should organic cotton be tested for lead...because this law is regulation for regulation sake. It does not distinguish between what the items are made of, where they are made and makes them. It requires extensive, expensive and redundant testing to try to make parents feel better...but you know what, as a parent, I don't feel any safer. When Mattel toys were being tested for lead I turned to companies like Selecta for toys for my boys...now I'll have no choice to buy Mattel toys. Where is the safety in that! The toy and product manufacturers are not asking to go unregulated, but we're asking to be regulated in an efficient, effective way that allows us to maintain our industries.

I suggest that you don't assume all things are bad just because Mattel and it's Chinese manufacturers are!

6:41AM PST on Dec 24, 2008

You should be more worried that the car seat your daughter rides in has 65 known chemicals that has been proven to cause cancer in rats and now childhood cancer has raised and is the least funded by the government.
You have no idea what you are talking about in your statement, which leads me to believe you did not read the facts. Placing a guideline on over sea toy makers to adhere to a conformity would of been best for everyone inside the United States, banning those toys that did not pass our guidelines and rules, this should of been taken in to effect years ago and no toys with lead be allowed to lay on the retail shelves for consumers to purchase. But this did not happen, one of the leading manufactures for the United States products is China. Turn your child's Christmas presents over and find out where this concern is steaming from, then ask yourself why is it that congress and our own United States government is not mandating or enforcing regulations that prohibit the sale of these goods to consumers here in the United States?
YOU yourself probably did panic when the price of gas went up, then the cost of food went up. Think about this in the same way, the cost of everything would go up because the cost to implement the new CPSIA law would cause most manufactures here in the United States to have to spend millions of dollars to have products tested, this is from major companies all the way down to the small business owner that manufactures a product. Unreal,

6:14AM PST on Dec 24, 2008

Obviously you have NOT read the new "law" nor do you understand the ramifications of this knee jerk reaction to the lead problems of 2007. The cute little picture of the baby sitting down holding the "handmade toys" would be naked and without ANY toys if this law is allowed to move forward. The clothes on the infants back, it's shoes, it's diapers would ALL have to pass testing from a certified lab at a cost of thousands of dollars and be given a "clean bill of health". It encompasses EVERYTHING that is used and or touched by children under the age of 12, right down to their school books etc.....non profit agencies could no longer accept or sell toys and childrens goods to raise money or to help low income families.....this law goes way beyond anything we have ever seen.

We are ALL for keeping lead and other toxic chemicals out of the things that are imported into this country and our children and grandchildren out of harms way. But this affects every handmade toy and clothing artisan and small business in our country as well as other countries such as Canada and manufactures in Europe that do not put such things in their products.

We, that are trying to fight this law, are not fighting it regarding large toy manufacturers that import their goods from other countries, we agree that their things should be tested to protect our children, we are trying to fight the fact that they are lumping all handmade toy makers and clothing makers into the same ball of clay.

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