"When I bring you colored toys, my child, I understand why there is such a play of colors on clouds, on water, and why flowers are painted in tints"

December 11, 2008

If you ever buy stuff for kids under 12 (clothes, toys, anything) you should read this post from DaddyTypes about some snafus and ambiguities surrounding the CPSC's new lead testing/certification regulations that go into affect in February 2009.

Its complex, but the bottom line is that most large corporations will be able to afford to comply. Smaller outfits (as well as folks who sell handmade toys, including sellers at craft fairs and on Etsy) probably won't be able to. The issue is that all items sold for children must be tested for lead and phthalates (not just the paint, but tested for lead in the materials as well) at CPSC certified labs; a cost that may be as high as $4000 per toy. Imported toys (say, from Europe - Haba, Plan Toys, etc.) must be tested by the importer or retailer before they can be sold in the US -- even if those items have already been tested and approved for sale in Europe. These rules even apply to toys that are all wood or all cotton, so small crafters working in their garage will need to have their toys and clothes tested by an independent lab prior to sale in order to be in compliance with the law.

What's more, the law (apparently, there is some controversy about even this) says that the new testing standards apply to all items sold after Feb 10th (rather than manufactured after February 10th. This is especially important because of the softness of the holiday sales -- its very possible that retailers will have stock on their shelves on Feb 10th that was manufactured back in September or October -- and all that stock will need to be destroyed if it has not been tested or does not comply. (The law was passed in August of 2008.)

More from the Wall Street Journal, although they touch mostly on the large corporate retailers. The Mothering magazine article I linked above (as well as the DaddyTypes piece) talks more about the impact on small/mom-and-pop retailers.

Help Save Handmade Toys in the USA from the CPSIA