Several years ago my brother-in-law in Alaska treated our son to a terrific toy moose. It was jig-saw cut and rubbed with food-grade oil and very well loved by my little boy. Sadly, unless our lawmakers manage the Herculean task of undoing their own mindlessly stupid legislation these types of handcrafted toys are a thing of the past. Along with the little girl’s aprons, hair bows, taggy-blankets, toy wooden swords and other delights I have found at holiday bazaars and the home-made soakers, children’s clothing, thrif shops… oh the list goes on forever.
The very ironically named Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 requires any item made for the use of children under 12 to be certified lead-free from an approved third party testing laboratory. The cost of this, and the fear of the $100,000 fine for failure to comply is already forcing many crafters to close their doors.
Think I am nuts? Well, if you haven’t seen this covered on your local news you can see it here: Uncle Sam vs. your favorite toys
If you have heard of this you may have also heard that resellers will not be compelled to test their inventory but can use their “judgment” to decide if the item is lead free. Great, only if they are wrong they will be fined. From the CSM article: “In its attempt to address the outcry from small businesses that sell children’s products, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has clarified that resale stores can use judgment in distinguishing between products that are high risk versus low risk for lead without certification. However, if resellers “judge” wrong, they are still subject to federal, civil, and criminal penalties. ” Note this only applies to resellers; manufacturers are still on the hook — even if that manufacturer is a mom selling booties for babies or hand made mantillas for little girls.
The CPSC has also proposed that “natural” materials such as wool, cotton, gems, silk and wood will be exempt. As long as they are not painted, stained or dyed. Even if the material is certified with the GTOS it still has to be tested for lead if it is dyed.
A few links for more information:
The official CPSIA government site.
CPSIA Central, where you can see what small and micro business owners are doing to stop this.
The Toy Industry Association’s site.
Etsy has a forum set up.
and there is a nice series of articles at Over Lawyered (no offense to my favorite Yak)