Friday, January 9, 2009

When Good Intentions Go Astray--Looking at the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) of 2008

Children's author, Elysabeth Eldering--whose State of Wilderness, Book 1 of the Junior Geography Detective Squad series we reviewed here--turned me on to information regarding the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) that President Bush signed into law in August 2008.

Publisher's Weekly has written an article about the negative impact to the children's book industry that compliance with this law will ultimately bring.

CPSIA can only be described as a law where good intentions have gone astray. Instead of targeting the true culprits--toy manufacturers whose products manufactured overseas have been recalled due to lead content and small parts unsafe for children--this ill-written law will cover "all consumer products intended for use by children 12 and under. That includes books, audiobooks and sidelines, no matter where they are manufactured, even though most books have lead levels that are well below the Act’s most stringent safety standards."

According to the Publisher's Weekly article, "The CPSIA dictates that each children’s book SKU, shipped to retailers, catalogues and e-commerce sites as of February 10 must have been tested by a third-party lab to ensure that lead levels are below 600 parts per million. (Acceptable levels drop to 300 ppm in August and 100 ppm in 2011.) Some books also must be tested for phthalates, an acid used to soften plastic. The importer or domestic manufacturer must provide a Certificate of Conformity (usually posted on the Internet), and the product must be labeled appropriately. Older products on shelf must fall within acceptable safety standards but do not need to be accompanied by a Certificate, according to recent comments by the Consumer Products Safety Commission."

This translates into a huge additional cost for publishers; and if we think the book industry has seen a lull in this tough economy, just wait until February 10, 2009 when all these products are required to be tested.

Vivian Zabel of 4RV Publishing has provided the names and address of committee and subcommittee leaders on her Brain Cells & Bubble Wrap blog. These leaders have the ability to call for hearings on the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 and advance critical legislation to resolve some of the issues.

Please consider writing letters to these four men to express your concerns about the CPSIA as it is currently written.

Don't let good intentions gone astray squelch the dreams of aspiring children's authors. Don't let an ill-written law put small publishers out of business. Write your letter today!

1 comment:

elysabeth said...

Great plea for help. Cheryl, hopefully readers will see that this law will affect more than just the book industry because this will affect textbooks, libraries, and clothiers and toy manufacturers and every day common household items. Everything, whether intended for a target audience of children or not, will need to meet these super high standards due to the fact that any home that has children ages 12 and under would have potential products that could be on the off chance hazardous to the child - even if the product wasn't intended for the child to begin with; just by being in contact by virtue of living in the same house. These lawmakers definitely did not have their thinking caps on when coming up with this law. Lead paints have been banned by another act of congress for 30 years. And books don't use paints, all ink and the pigments, even if they are lead based, are basically well below the new standards. I hope the fight is huge and does make an impact to get this law stopped before it causes too much damage (loss of income by all small and large businesses that have anything in inventory that is geared for children - this is a huge monster). And to top it all off, there are only like a dozen or less of "approved laboratories" for testing. Now you have to stress the lab workers by injecting millions of products to be tested and the whole economy folds; we will end up back in a stone age.

Okay - sorry for ranting. Hope the readers really respond to this and contact everyone they can to get the word out that this law needs to be stopped, repealed and reworked/reworded/rewritten (you know that in our chosen path as an author, they say that the revising and rewriting is where the best stories come from; so hopefully the lawmakers will see that this was rash and poorly written and will take the advice of millions of consumers and see that the impact is a lot deeper than they ever imagined.) - E :)