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Empty shelf due to CPSIA

Empty shelf due to CPSIA

February 10th was the day new lead standards rolled into place.  You may have seen there was a one year stay on testing of products.  Careful reading of the document points out two things.  This only applies to manfucaturers and importers, not distributors and retails.  The wording also makes it clear you’re still damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

From the linked document above:

Manufacturers and importers – large and small – of children’s products will not need to test or certify to these new requirements, but will need to meet the lead and phthalates limits, mandatory toy standards and other requirements.”

Remember, ignorance is no excuse, so if you cannot prove they are safe, you may still be in trouble.  Also, the stay applies ONLY to the Consumer Product Safety Administration.  They won’t enforce it… but that doesn’t mean that state attorney generals with an ax to grind or that lawyers looking to sue won’t use this law against you.


To confuse the issue, the CPSA then issued another document “clarifying” how CPSIA affects books.

Quote:

CPSC will: Not impose penalties against anyone for making, importing, distributing, or selling

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

*ordinary children’s book printed after 1985″

Again, this is a case of what is NOT said is more important than what is said.  Again, this only says CPSC will not pursue you for selling “ordinary children’s books printed after 1985″… but other groups may still do so.  Also, it implies they WILL pursue you for selling a book from 1985 or earlier.

What about collectible children’s books?  Ones that are primarily sold to adult collectors are sort of okay according to their FAQ.  They clarify in other documents thatsuch collectibles must ONLY be sold to adults and all of yoru advertisign, signage, marketing, etc that these are intended for use ONLY by adults.  So most reading copies of items will not qualify. You better have a darn good justification for why a book is collectible before listing it as such.

To further confuse the issue there’s a sort of exemption for sale of used items.

Sellers of used children’s products, such as thrift stores and consignment stores, are not required to certify that those products meet the new lead limits, phthalates standard or new toy standards.

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.”

Again, it says you don’t have to have the document in hand, but still have to comply with the law, even though you can’t prove whether you are or are not complying.  Again, the CPSC indicates it won’t pursue you… but that doesn’t stop other groups from doing so.

And lets get back to that definition of an “ordinary book” which the CPSA defines as:

The term “ordinary book” in this context means one that is published on cardboard or paper printed by conventional methods and intended to be read. It excludes children’s books that have plastic, metal or electronic parts.”

That no metal part is important.  Staple bound books regardless of age are not exempted.


So what is a bookseller (or library for that matter) to do?  There three basic options:

1. Ignore it entirely and hope nobody is so stupid as to sue or charge you under this law

2. Remove all books from 1985 or earlier and all books that don’t count as “ordinary books” from sale

3. Remove all kids books.

None of these are partcularly great options.  Most seem top be opted for some sort of “wait and see” attitude with puttingbooks into storage and furiously writing and calling their Senators and Congressmen.  I went for option #2 with my shop and pulled about six boxes of books, totally over 300 volumes that retails for around $2500.  Pictures:

Shelves emptied for CPSIA

Shelves emptied for CPSIA

4 boxes of books removed due to CPSIA

4 boxes of books removed due to CPSIA

Yes Alexander, it is Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.  Aleaxnder was removed because its a 1984 readign copy with a DEADLY staple binding.

Like a copy of that 1984 sign?  You can download it here.

And do remember to write, call, and e-mail you Congressman and Senators about CPSIA (HR 4040)



Nora O'Neill

Nora O'Neill

Nora O'Neill

Latest posts by Nora O'Neill (see all)

6 Comments

  1. Great post Nora. I am from Canada, so I can still sell my children books to customers in Canada and overseas. And I could probably still ship books printed after 1985, without staples, to the USA, but I have decided not too. I decided it is easier for me, as a small on-line bookstore, to just stop shipping children books to the USA. I removed my children books from all the sites I list on, except my own, and I have put in the description of my children books that they are not available for shipping to the USA. I still have to go through all my old school readers and texts and decide what I am going to do with them. I really hope that our Canadian government does not pass such a law here and if they do, they do not include Children Books.

  2. Government regulation is getting out of control. They allow tainted peanut butter to be sold years after they knew there was a problem at the plant yet something as minor as how dangerous a book could possibly be requires swift action.

  3. Here is a little something to brighten your day –

    Dr. Seuss Meets the CPSIA

  4. A law went into effect on Feb. 10th, 2009 which is banning the sale of childrens books printed prior to 1985 unless they are tested and pass the lead limit. Thrift stores are pulling these wonderful books off the shelf and throwing them away. This law also affects crafters, vintage toysellers and sellers of children’s clothing because of possible lead content.

    I contacted the Consumer Protection Safety office in Washinton DC and was told in essence, we don’t know if the books are really dangerous, we don’t test them, test them yourself if you want to sell them (prohibitive cost) and basically we are in charge so too bad if you don’t like it. I am serious. This is what the essence of my conversation was with them.

    Wow, was I shocked.

    This means that the book selling part of the law, if not repealed, will ban thrift stores, library sales, yard sales and online merchants from buying or selling these items. We will lose part of our history and our childhood memories that these wonderful books bring to us.

    In this time of ecomomic downturn, the government should be trying to help small business succeed not making it harder.

    This is directly from the Cpsc website:

    WASHINGTON, D.C. – In February 2009, new requirements of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) take effect. Manufacturers, importers and retailers are expected to comply with the new Congressionally-mandated laws. Beginning February 10, 2009, children’s products cannot be sold if they contain more than 600 parts per million (ppm) total lead. Certain children’s products manufactured on or after February 10, 2009 cannot be sold if they contain more than 0.1% of certain specific phthalates or if they fail to meet new mandatory standards for toys.

    Under the new law, children’s products with more than 600 ppm total lead cannot lawfully be sold in the United States on or after February 10, 2009, even if they were manufactured before that date. The total lead limit drops to 300 ppm on August 14, 2009.

    The new law requires that domestic manufacturers and importers certify that children’s products made after February 10 meet all the new safety standards and the lead ban. Sellers of used children’s products, such as thrift stores and consignment stores, are not required to certify that those products meet the new lead limits, phthalates standard or new toy standards.

    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.

    This makes no sense. If you are a reseller you’re not required to test for lead before a product is they’re sold. But…resellers cannot sell these products that exceed the lead limit. Hmmmmm If they’re not tested how the heck do you know.

    I urge all of you who love these books as much as I do to contact your senators and representatives and tell them how you feel about this law. CSPIA 4040. Urge them to amend the law regarding second hand/resellers of these products.

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