Many of you may not have heard about the new Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) regulations, due to go into effect on February 10, 2009. The new ruling, known as the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) passed in August 2008 and was originally intended for more stringent testing of children's items imported from foreign manufacturers, including testing for lead and dangerous phthalates in children's items. However, this will affect anybody who sells items for children under the age of 12 in the U.S. and will require them to seek stringent testing of their items. It includes toys, jewelry, clothing, school supplies, and anything else you can think of that may be used by children.
Although the laws were created to increase regulation of imported items, those of us in the handmade line of work will be directly affected by this as the way the act was passed did not address the impact this ruling would have on the safer items made in the U.S. The certification testing that this regulation requires involves a cost of $300+ per batch. A batch is considered to be a group of a single product that all where made using the same material lot - therefore if you make handknit baby blankets, they would need to all be made from the exact same yarn and dye lot to be considered a batch. The manufacturer of the yarn is not responsible for testing, only the maker of the end product. Given that those making handmade items for babies and children are generally making something that's one of a kind, or at least in limited amounts, this would essentially put stores making handmade items for children out of business given the financial repercussions of compliance. Non-compliance can lead to hefty fines and possible jail time.
If you'd like to read up more about the regulations going into effect, here are a few helpful links.
FAQs on the CPSC website
Handmade Toy Alliance
GK Law Article
Fashion Incubator Article
Whether you are the maker of handmade children's items, or someone who enjoys buying children's items that are handmade here in the U.S. with care, this will affect you. Those of us who handmade things for children and babies ask that you look into this law and contact your congressman, the CPSC, local media outlets, or take a few minutes to sign the online petitions regarding this ruling.