New child product safety law turns millions of US homecrafters into
by Adriana Stuijt.
runs a micro-business from her home, warns that a new US law requiring costly
testing for lead in children's products is going to turn millions of
home-crafters into criminals – and old stock will have to be dumped.
Kiki Fluhr, who runs
the Numbers Handmade homecraft business from her home,
warns that the new Consumer Product
Safety Improvement Act, which becomes effective from February 10 next year,
will turn micro-businesses like hers into illegal manufacturers of "hazardous
substances' overnight. Also see:
all become criminals
This law includes hand-knitted, quilted and
hand-sewn clothes, wooden toys and the myriad of other products for children
which traditionally have been sold by arts-and-crafts shops countrywide for
decades. These are usually produced by cash-strapped people at home.
says that even granny's home-made quilts sold in the local arts-and-crafts shop
won't be exempt from this new law. Also disastrous is the fact that thousands of
tons of these often exquisitely-handcrafted products in the pre-existing stock
of shops also will have to be dumped as contraband which under this law will be
deemed to contain 'banned, hazardous substances' after February 10 —
because the Act is retroactive. Each product will have be tested at
huge cost and produce a certificate of compliance before it can be sold.
Handcrafters say they can't afford this huge price-tag of $4,000 for each test.
National Bankruptcy Act
Thousands of American microshops like Kiki's
will be forced to go out of business because of this Act. She calls it the
National Bankruptcy Act which is turning every home-crafter into a felon
overnight: every manufacturer, reseller and retailer will need to prove
compliance or risk being charged with a felony. A conviction carries tens of
thousands of dollars in fines and potentially even jail time.
Fluhr says that she has spent the last six months growing her business,
'working incredibly hard to create a great product. '
up after last year's massive recalls, when dozens of dangerous, lead-tainted Chinese toys
and children's products were recalled.
"In August 2008, in response
to that disaster, the passed this
She says while it's laudable that the new law bans lead and
phthalates (a chemical used in some vinyl products) from all children’s toys,
apparel, decor, and accessories, it's a disaster for micro-businesses like hers.
She works with organic materials — and traditional handcrafters like her are
very conscious of the safety of their products. However they can't afford to
have each product tested at the cost of $4,000 per item to get their
certificates of compliance. So they will not only be forced out of business, but
their pre-existing stock will be outlawed.
Manufacturers — all these
microbusinesses included — will have to obtain a certificate of compliance:
anyone who makes clothing, toys etc regardless of volume, needs to have each and
every component tested by a CPSC-accredited laboratory at huge cost for each
"This includes not just toys, but clothing, jewelry,
blankets, sheets, books, bibs, strollers, carriers, and anything else that a
child younger than 12 might come in contact with," she said.
tests have to be done at a CSPC accredited lab, and cost as much as $4,000 with
an average of around $500. So for me, I offer three different types of dresses.
Each dress contains two different fabrics, as well as buttons, and thread (each
of which needs to be tested), so that’s potentially $2,000 to test one dress.
But I have three styles, so that’s $6,000.
And when I get a new
bolt of fabric, I need to start all over again. I can only make 15 dresses from
one bolt, so there is no way I could make the testing financially feasible".
She agrees wholeheartedly that the children must be protected from
harmfull chemicals. "However this law, as it is currently written, will affect
handmade toy and apparel makers – the very people many of us turn to for safe
toys, clothing and decor for our children."
"At present, there are no
exemptions for small businesses and “micro” manufacturers like myself and most
Even lead-free and phthalates-free products
must still be tested…
The law as it stands now, makes no
exception for quantities made, where the garments/products are made or anything
else. Nor is there an exception for unadorned fabric components, unfinished wood
components, materials which, by their nature, are free of lead and phthalates.
Guilty until proven innocent…
Also, the law takes
a “guilty until proven innocent” approach, which would treat a handmade,
unfinished wooden toy that doesn’t meet the certification deadline as a “banned
hazardous substance” which would be illegal to distribute in this country, she
This legislation is also retroactive for any pre-existing
inventory as of Feb. 10, 2009. This means that everything on the shelves in
those big (or small) stores will also be “banned, hazardous substances” –
"Larger corporations that can afford testing will incur
thousands, maybe millions of dollars in fees, and this expense will be handed
down to the consumer, probably making the prices for children’s products go
through the roof."
No more selling old things on
"This also means that after that date, even selling
your kids old things on eBay or Craigslist will be illegal. Charities will not
be able to accept donations without a certificate of compliance either.
"February 10, 2009 is being dubbed “National Bankruptcy Day” by many
people in the apparel and .
If this legislation is not amended,
it will affect everyone from port workers to parents looking for legal products.
"Billions of dollars worth of children’s products will have to be
destroyed because they can’t be legally sold, and this will cause major
environmental problems," she said.
Fluhr says that she's all for higher
safety standards and keeping the kids safe — however this law is overreacting.
"It will put thousands of manufacturers of children’s products out of business
-hurting our economy and causing even more loan defaults. Though this
legislation was well-intentioned, it cannot be allowed to stand."
"This law affects every stay at home mom trying to help put food on
the table and every grandmother knitting blankets for the local craft fair. It
makes the thousands of us who have found a niche in the burgeoning handmade
market have to make a tough decision – continue to produce items illegally and
possible incur a $100,000 fine, or close up shop and maybe not be able to pay
the mortgage this month…."