Saturday, January 17, 2009

It's for the children!

I'd hate to turn this blog into a forum for legislative activism, but do think it's fair to say that buying used books, finding a second-hand bargain, and selling hand made items are all near and dear to the hearts of these Church Ladies. If you agree, please read up on the Consumer Product Safety "Improvement" Act of 2008, HR 4040. The publicized intent was to protect children from last year's discovery of lead contamination in toys coming from China. The final outcome will require ALL components of ALL products used by children (clothing, toys, books, furniture, DVDs, etc.) under age 12 to be tested. This will effectively shut down used sales of any of these items and will put second-hand stores, many home craft businesses, ebay and Etsy sellers out of business.

Consider, for example, a child's dress. Each component will require testing by an independent lab - each fabric, thread, zipper, lace, and decorative ribbon used will need to be certified separately. And each size of the identical dress will need a separate certification. It goes without saying that this would not be possible for your average Goodwill outlet. Not only will used items no longer be available for sale, but new items will be significantly pricier to absorb the cost of testing.

And books, for Pete's sake. I don't know about you, but there's nothing I enjoy more than going to a library sale and buying armfuls of beautiful, used books to enrich my children's minds through literature. But literacy is now less important than the remote possibility my 10-year-old daughter will eat her books and become sick. So books will be subject to testing because of the component parts – glue, bindings, paper, inks. Libraries can no longer hold book sales because children's books might be sold. Used bookstores would have to dump all their children's selections. has already notified its vendors that they must comply with the new law by providing lead-testing certificates. There can be no more homeschool curriculum fairs because used books change hands all the time. See how this works?
Read more here and here and please consider contacting your legislator and passing the word to others.


FrB said...

I think that Snopes has more info on this:

Anonymous said...

Resale is not affected, only new items intended for children. Your comments are unnecessarily overly dramatic.

Margaret Mary said...

Thanks for the information Fr. B, but I still wonder about the wording. The clarification from the Consumer Products Safety Commission says "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." At the same time it says that they cannot sell products that are likely to exceed the limit. How would you know what is a "likely" culprit and how liable would a second hand store be if they made a poor judgment on this?

Margaret Mary said...

I just heard the following from a friend who owns a Catholic bookstore: "Yes, they made an exception for thrift stores etc. Hopefully they'll make more exceptions - and soon. This week I have to contact all of our vendors who we get children's items from to ask for a certification that their products are safe/have been tested. Right now it's looking bleak for some small homeschool businesses - even the bigger ones are nervous. We got a call from our rep from [well-know Catholic publisher] warning us that there might be delays because a lot of their printing is done in China."