The dust has settled down for just a little while, but you might remember that I did my best to do my part by writing letters to my representatives protesting the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). Senator Lugar replied quite a while ago, and I haven’t heard a peep out of Senator Bayh, but at long last, I have received my reply from Representative Baron Hill. Here it is:
February 25, 2009
Dear Mrs. Finn, [I specifically signed my name as “Ms.”–harumph)
Thank you for contacting me to share your views on the implementation of H.R. 4040, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008. I appreciate you taking the time to share your concerns with me.
On August 14, 2008, H.R. 4040 (PL 110-314) was signed into law. The bill provides authorization for the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to perform more agency functions in order to better protect
consumers – especially children. This legislation creates mandatory pre-market testing of children’s products by certified laboratories. The lead content provisions are the most aggressive in the world, reducing the legal limit to 100 parts per million for all children’s products marketed to ages 12 and under. The bill also requires manufacturers to place distinguishing marks on products and packaging to aid in the efficient recall of children’s products.
Recently, we have seen an increase in data on the health dangers of phthalates in everyday consumer products and children’s toys. PL 110-34 prohibits the use of phthalates in children’s toys and childcare
articles, as children seem most vulnerable to the adverse affects of phthalates. The legislation also includes a provision that bans three-wheel all terrain vehicles (ATVs) which is based on an amendment I offered in the Full Committee to strengthen ATV safety regulations. Finally, the bill provides the CPSC with the appropriate funding to properly administer all of their new authorities.
The CPSC is currently implementing the new laws and regulations and issuing rulemakings to comply with PL 110-34. Two concerns that have been recently discussed are the effects of this law on thrift and
consignment shops and small manufacturers of handmade children’s products. In regard to consignment and thrift shops, the burden to meet lead standards rests with manufacturers. While it is unlawful to sell
tainted products, penalties are only issued if the retailer or seller knowingly sells tainted products. Exemptions by the CPSC for toys and products made with materials like wood, cotton, and wool – that don’t
leach into body – are under consideration. This would cover many small manufacturers of handmade toys.
The House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection has plans to hold hearings in the 111th Congress to monitor and oversee the implementations of the law by the CPSC. I will certainly keep your concerns in mind as my Colleagues and I review the actions taken by the CPSC.
Thank you again for contacting me about this important issue. If you have any questions or concerns regarding this or any issue, please feel free to contact me at 202.225.5315. If you would like to receive
periodic email updates about my work, please visit http://baronhill.house.gov <http://baronhill.house.gov/> to sign-up for my e-newsletter.
The things I like: Representative Hill specifically addresses my outrage that thrift stores and handmade goods created by small manufacturers (such as myself) will be targeted. I’m comforted quite a bit by this, actually, since I craft almost entirely with second-hand or natural materials.
It also sounds as if Representative Hill, at least, believes that the burden of lead testing rests with the manufacturers to such an extent that a crafter would not be required to re-test, at their own debilitating cost, things like acrylic paint, or the snaps on clothing, etc. I wonder, though, if that is truly the case.
What I don’t like: I really want to hear a politician say that first of all, we should perhaps be blaming and legislating not our own independent toymakers, but instead the massive toy companies that cheaply import the crap from China that caused most of these problems in the first place, and second, that there are practical, efficient, and effective ways that average citizens, perhaps with the government’s help, can also take part in ensuring that their own children are given only playthings that are safe and wholesome and healthy–boycotting companies with a bad track record, for instance, or buying toys made of natural materials or from small crafters, or testing their own intended purchases with simple, portable lead swab test kits (My partner and I bought these to check our rental house after our infant tested with an elevated lead level–the damn place was chock-full of lead, and I don’t remember the government helping us out when we went through hell to get out of our rental lease, nor did they help us out much when the house we then tried to buy had lead paint on the windows and the historical restoration society that was selling the house insisted it would be out of the question to replace them with something, you know, NON POISONOUS).
That may be too much to ask of a politician.