Have you heard of the CPSIA? That’s the Consumer Product Safety Information Act. If you haven’t then let me shed some light on it for you. In an attempt to prevent products with high lead contents from reaching America’s children the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has come up with this act that basically says all products geared for children 12 and under must be tested by a third, neutral party for lead (they require 600ppm or less at the moment to go down eventually to 100ppm). I have read, mostly on other people’s blogs, that every product will need to be tested, not every product line, but every actual, individual product. That sounded ridiculous to me even considering the sources so I did some snooping around on the CPSC site and frankly, the wording is vague, purposely, I believe.
The latest update that they have listed on the CPSC website does propose that certain materials aren’t harmful because they naturally do not have or have very very small amounts of lead in them. Here’s a quote:
“The staff recommends that the following natural materials be found by the Commission not to exceed the CPSIA lead limits based on the available scientific information and the staff’s best professional judgment that such materials do not contain lead or contain lead at levels that do not exceed the CPSIA lead limits. The staff recommends that these finding only apply to a material that is untreated and unadulterated by the addition of materials or chemicals including pigments, dyes, coatings, finishes or any other substance, and has not undergone any processing that could result in lead content that exceeds the CPSIA lead limits.”
(So basically there are certain materials that they think are ok but only in their natural state, no dyes or pigments, etc.)
Here are the items they deem to be ok…
Precious gemstones: diamond, ruby, sapphire, emerald
Certain semiprecious gemstones…provided that the mineral or material is not based on lead or lead compounds (duh!) and is not associated in nature with any mineral that is based on lead or lead compounds (huh?!)
Natural or cultured pearls
Natural fibers, including cotton, silk, wool, hemp, flax, and linen
Other natural materials including coral, amber, feathers, fur, and untreated leather
The crafting world is in an uproar about this, and rightly so. There is a point where government regulation becomes heavy handed, invasive and absurd. This act has past that point. They have dismissed a whole sector of people whose livelihood depends solely on what they make at their sewing machine or in their workshop in their garage or in their “studio” that’s in the spare bedroom. For any item to fall strictly into any of those categories above is unreasonable. To ask that these handmade items be tested by a testing lab (which I know from first hand experience) is not only unreasonable but criminal. All those Etsy or MadeIt sellers that would fall under the CPSIA purview will have no choice but to close up shop or to sell strictly to people in other countries. It would mean the end of all those booths at farmer’s markets and street fairs and craft fairs and holiday boutiques where men and women have not only toiled to have a fair amount of inventory at their booth, they’re also sitting there making more. You won’t see this anymore. It’s a piece of Americana that’s about to vanish.
If you’ve read this far (well, I’m impressed because I’m usually not this wordy) I implore you to take action. It doesn’t take much effort on your part. Go to the Handmade Toy Alliance website, do some more reading if you’d like, or just do a letter to your senator. On the site they have a sample letter where you just copy and paste and fill in your information then email it to your senator. Don’t know who your senator or representative is? They’ll help you with that too. They also have some suggested solutions if you've decided to look into this further. And last but certainly not least, don’t forget to sign their petition.
If you're an American and this has struck a chord with you, please do not sit idly by. Take action.