Saturday, October 31, 2009

A very busy day for the HTA and the CPSIA

After a full year of efforts trying to save their small businesses from the mandates of the CPSIA, the Handmade Toy Alliance met two important milestones on October 30.

First, assisted by Senator Merkley (OR), the HTA met via video conference with CPSC commissioners Inez Tenenbaum and Robert Adler, an aide to Senator Dodd (CT), and a team of about a dozen CPSC staffers to discuss policy actions to protect small batch children's product manufacturers.

Second, the New York Times reported for the first time on the CPSIA's impact on small businesses. A little handmade wooden airplane even found itself on the front page. The report focused on the HTA's efforts to convince congress to amend the CPSIA.

“It was a very busy day,” said HTA secretary Jill Chuckas, owner of Crafty Baby (CT). “In the morning we got the chance to tell the CPSC what we need. And then in the evening I found myself quoted in the New York Times.”

During the morning CPSC meeting, Commissioner Adler expressed a desire to protect small manufacturers as much as possible within the constrains of the CPSIA. Speaking about the difficulty small business have affording the testing required by the law, he said “You're the folks who keep us awake at night.” He also reiterated that “The CPSC did not write this law.”

The meeting centered on nine requests the HTA submitted to the CPSC, the most important of which would stay enforcement of testing requirements for another year so that the CPSC can finalize rule-making on a host of important issues. “Our goal is not to create loopholes in the law for unsafe products,” said Dan Marshall of Peapods Natural Toys (MN) “We just want to save our small businesses.”

In the Times article, titled “Burden of Safety Law Imperils Small Toymakers”, Nancy Cowles of the consumer group Kids in Danger was quoted as opposing the HTA's efforts to reform the CPSIA, claiming that big industry players “are not above using the small crafters to reopen the legislation and get the changes they want.”

“This is the absurd logic that we've been hearing for a long time,” said HTA board member Rob Wilson of Challenge & Fun (MA). “We are not agents for big companies. We have been highly critical of Mattel and other multinationals for their role in shaping the CPSIA in their favor. What Cowles is basically saying is that handcrafters and small batch manufacturers are closing their businesses as a favor to Mattel.”

“If Kids in Danger and other consumer groups would just respond to our repeated requests for dialog, I'm sure we could reach an understanding that serves both our interests,” said Marshall. “If they could have listened to our morning meeting with the CPSC, they would understand our desire to fix this law without compromising safety. Unfortunately, they seem more interested in protecting the status quo.”

The HTA's next steps are to include more meetings with the CPSC, which will hopefully lead to policy actions and the clarification of a number of issues. The HTA is also offering to help the CPSC reach out to small batch manufacturers.

“Even though we feel very encouraged by the CPSC's willingness to work with us, we need to keep in mind that their hands are tied on many issues,” said Wilson. “We need Congress to pass a technical amendment to the CPSIA, and we need Senator Pryor to begin that process with an open hearing in his Senate commerce committee."

In other coverage of the day's events, Walter Olson reacted to the NYTimes article in his Overlawyered blog, writing:

Okay, so the Times was — well, not a day late and a dollar short, but more like 300 days late and many billions of dollars in overlooked costs short. Still, let’s be grateful: the paper’s news side has now implicitly rebuked the editorial side’s fantastic, ideologically blinkered dismissal of “needless fears that the law could injure smaller enterprises”. And the Times’s belated acknowledgment of the story can serve as permission for other sectors of the media dependent on Times coverage — including some magazines and network news departments — to acknowledge at last the legitimacy of the story and begin according serious attention to the continuing CPSIA calamity.
We feel compelled to agree--by our count, the NYTimes was scooped at least 426 times on this story. But, better late than never. Now, let's fix the CPSIA!

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Handmade Toy Alliance Requests CPSC Policy Actions under CPSIA

With February 10, 2010 fast approaching, the Handmade Toy Alliance has made a formal request to the CPSC for regulatory relief from the CPSIA through policy actions. We feel that these actions are absolutely necessary to save small batch childrens product manufacturing in the US.

Our fundamental belief is that the CPSIA focuses resources on processes rather than safety and needlessly hampers the Commission's ability to make product safety determinations based on risk. While we believe that only Congress can correct these issues, we have identified a number of areas where CPSC rulemaking based on common sense and risk analysis will prevent the needless destruction of hundreds of responsible small businesses.

The role of a federal agency is not just to enforce laws, but to give guidance to Congress. Our first request is for the CPSC to formally communicate to Congress that a technical amendment is needed to the CPSIA in order to correct its unintended consequences. Chief among these corrections would be to grant the CPSC discretion to apply risk analysis to the application of third party testing requirements and lead content limits.

We are also requesting a further one year stay of testing and certification requirements. We understand that the Commission will soon be issuing guidance on component testing rules under Section 102 of the CPSIA. However, these rules will arrive less than three months before the end of the current stay on February 10, 2010. This timeframe will provide little relief for manufacturers seeking to take advantage of component testing rules, who will need time to work with their component suppliers to assure upstream compliance.

Although the small batch community has already begun documenting CPSIA-compliant component suppliers (see, without CPSC-issued regulations in place we have had little power to force suppliers to test and certify.

Third, we want the CPSC to consider the needs of small businesses when they issue rules regarding retesting requirements under Section 102(d)(2)(B) of the CPSIA. We understand that large toy manufacturers, represented by the Toy Industry Association (TIA), have been arguing for a tiered schedule for retesting. Their proposal would define three tiers of manufacturers based on whether their factories have obtained ISO-9001 ratings. Under this scheme, “Tier 1” factories would be allowed to test less frequently and under more favorable conditions while “Tier 3” would have to test more often under less favorable conditions.

While we can appreciate TIA's intention to reward higher volume factories that have demonstrated quality and safety control, their scheme is unfair and unworkable at the scale of small batch manufacturers. ISO-9001 certification can cost tens of thousands of dollars and is not applicable to home workshops and small domestic manufacturers.

We are therefore requesting that TIA's standards not be applied to our small businesses. Instead, we request a retesting schedule based on the number of items produced, not on any chronological time line. Retesting should be required every 10,000 units for small manufacturers, not every 15 months.

Fourth, many small toymakers are facing huge compliance costs because of required ASTM testing, which the CPSIA requires for all toys. We are asking the CPSC to issue an enforcement policy which would remove the threat of prosecution for small batch toymakers who are unable to afford ASTM testing. The products made by these manufacturers should still be required to meet ASTM requirements and the manufacturer shall be required to act in good faith

This would allow a company to deal with products based on volume. Small businesses will most likely be able to afford to test higher volume items, but they should still have an incentive to bring in niche, low volume items that meet ASTM but are not third party tested. This policy would be entirely justified based on risk analysis, since toys distributed in smaller quantities pose a smaller potential public health risk than mass market toys.

Although the Commission has issued exemptions from lead content and phthalate testing for many toys which are made from natural or other exempted materials, ASTM testing remains an insurmountable burden for many small toymakers. Even though ASTM testing is usually somewhat straightforward and simple to do, many testing labs have instituted minimum per-item testing fees of $300-$350, which largely negates any savings from natural material exemptions. Many of our members simply cannot afford to pay these fees and will be forced to cease operations without this relief. This issue not only affects handmade items, but also adaptive toys for children with disabilities, classroom supplies, and other low-volume specialty toy products

Fifth, we are asking the CPSC to issue a statement of enforcement policy that it will not prosecute makers of one-of-a-kind products for failure to test. Dozens of our member businesses earn their living by making custom products ranging from ceremonial Native American costumes to fabric dolls to hair bows. Testing these one-of-a-kind products is both physically and financially impossible.

And, we are asking the Commission to improve its education and outreach to small businesses by publishing a simplified explanation of testing requirements and ASTM toy standards, and by answering all of the questions posted on the site, where the small batch community has been attempting to share knowledge and interpret the requirements of the CPSIA.

We have also requested the CPSC to appoint an ombudsperson to help communicate with the small batch manufacturing community. Such an ombudsperson would serve to expedite answers to questions, give input to CPSC staff about policy decisions on behalf of small batch manufacturers, and work with organizations such as Etsy and the Handmade Toy Alliance to communicate with small batch manufacturers.

We also feel that CPSC-approved third-party testing labs require more transparency and oversight. We are requesting that the Commission require that all CPSC-certified labs, as a condition of their certification, abandon their per-item minimum fees and post itemized per-test costs so that small manufacturers can easily compare testing services. Our members have found the process of obtaining quotes from testing labs to be extremely arduous and time consuming. And, third party testing firms have been less than forthright about their fees, often quoting for tests which the CPSC does not require. These independent operators need more oversight from the CPSC to ensure that they are treating small businesses fairly.

Finally, we would like the CPSC to implement an education strategy for consumers. Media attention in the wake of mass market toy recalls has improperly skewed the public's understanding the primary sources of lead poisoning, which remain lead in house paint, dirt near highly-traveled roads, and workplace exposure. Lead awareness campaigns from the 1970s and 80s have now been forgotten by today's parents even though the same problems persist. The CPSC should take steps to re-educate the public about the highest-risk sources of lead exposure.

We feel that these actions, if adopted by the CPSC, would save hundreds of small American businesses whose companies had nothing to do with the recalls of 2007. Hopefully, the CPSC will respond favorably to our requests. Someday, perhaps, we will also have the chance to tell Congress directly about the effects the CPSIA is having on our businesses.

photo: Plush Dollhouse by Abbydid.

Press Release: The Handmade Toy Alliance Urges the Senate to hold Hearings on the CPSIA

Stamford, CT – October 29, 2009– The Handmade Toy Alliance (HTA), along with thirty nine other trade associations, is calling on Senator Mark Pryor of Arkansas to hold an open hearing in the Senate Commerce Committee on the unintended consequences of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA).

The HTA endorsed a letter dated October 28, 2009 from the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) to Senator Pryor urging him and his committee to review implementation of the CPSIA. Although a hearing was held in the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection last month, only one witness, Inez Tenenbaum, Chair of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) was called to testify—manufacturers and retailers who are facing extinction because of this sweeping law were excluded.

“This is just another reminder to our members of Congress that the issues plaguing small businesses and the hand crafted community from the CPSIA have not gone away,” Jill Chuckas, Secretary of the HTA and owner of Crafty Baby (CT) stated. “A hearing that fully discusses these issues needs to be held very soon.”

Dan Marshall, HTA Vice-President and co-owner of Peapods Natural Toys (MN), went on to state “At this point, there is not enough time for the CPSC to issue enough rulings to help small batch manufacturers address their compliance issues prior to the lifting of the stay on February 10, 2010. Congress needs to begin an active hearing process that engages manufacturers large and small in a meaningful way and finally correct this law.”

View the full text of NAM's letter here.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Author of CPSIA Seeks to Protect Children from Weather Balloons

We saw this on the wire and wanted to share, since many news outlets overlooked it yesterday:

WASHINGTON, D.C. October 15, 2009
Rep. Henry Waxman Calls for Regulation of Weather Balloons to Protect Children

Citing today's episode in Fort Collins, Colorado, in which 6-year-old Falcon Heene was briefly thought to have perished in a homemade balloon, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) is calling for tighter regulation of weather balloons.

"As chair of the House commerce committee, I have been a tireless advocate for children's safety," Waxman said at a late afternoon press conference. "Poor Falcon narrowly escaped certain death today due to his exposure to an untested weather balloon in his own backyard. My committee will see to it that no child will suffer this fate again."

Waxman said he is concerned that the American public generally considers weather balloons to be tested and certified by the federal government. "The American public already believes such regulation is currently in place. Today's incident proves that the public has been mislead and their trust has been violated."

Noting that the media frenzy surrounding Falcon's adventure was eerily similar to the frenzy during the 2007 toy recall crisis, Waxman said "this is exactly like Thomas the Tank Engine all over again. The same sense of shock, the same types of probing questions from the media--even the number of children maimed and killed was statistically similar! Only this time, it's not poison toys, it's weather balloons."

Waxman's newly introduced bill, the Help Our Tots Avoid Injury from aiRships Act, or HOT AIR, will require all weather balloons to be tested in a third party lab approved by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to ensure that they do not contain any children. The CPSC will also be empowered to conduct searches at the ports and in citizen's garages to ensure that no weather balloon contains an excessive amount of child.

Consumer groups are cheering Waxman's proposal. "We hope this gets fast-tracked through Congress ahead of health care or climate change legislation," said a spokesperson from U.S. PIRG. "This issue is too big to ignore. We'll surely be able to increase our canvassing receipts with this one--everyone wants to protect children."

Waxman stressed that his bill contains no loopholes that might cause further harm to children. "Just as the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 allows no amount of lead in any children's product under any circumstances, HOT AIR will not allow even a negligible amount of child in any weather balloon," Waxman said.

Baltel, the largest weather balloon manufacture, and Bal-Mart, the world's largest retailer of weather balloons, have already endorsed Waxman's bill. "It's obvious to us that the public demands accountability," a Bal-Mart representative said. "This bill will help us restore trust and squash those upstart handmade balloon operations that have been eroding our profits."

"We also appreciate Waxman's willingness to allow us to conduct our own testing--that will save us a lot of money," said a spokesperson for Baltel.

Meanwhile, as young Falcon Heene was tucked into bed this evening, Waxman sent his best wishes via a Hallmark e-card with the message "Sleep well, Falcon. By this time next week your parent's balloons will be illegal and you won't have to hide in a box ever again." Surely, young Falcon will sleep better knowing that Henry Waxman is on his side.

Hand-felted Waxman puppet by mullishmuse, available on Etsy.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Wisconsin Police Stop Giving Teddy Bears to Children Because of CPSIA

Police in Wisconsin, concerned about their potential liability under the CPSIA, have switched to giving out books instead of teddy bears to children in distress.

The retroactivity of the CPSIA has had a chilling effect on everyone involved in used children's goods. The CPSC might likely argue that they would never go after police officers handing out teddy bears, but like most people, Wisconsin police are eager to follow the law, no matter how ridiculous it is.

Still, we can't help but think these kids would appreciate a teddy bear a little more than a book.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The CPSIA Testing Requirements Flowchart

It is now one year and two months since the CPSIA was passed and we can honestly say that confusion is still the norm for those of us living under its mandates.

Among manufacturers, consumer groups, and even the politicians who wrote the CPSIA, we hear misinformation, misunderstanding, and misrepresentation of what the CPSIA actually requires. It's easy to get confused, of course, since the CPSIA is a very complicated law which subjects different types of products to very different rules.

Although the CPSC has issued guidance for small businesses seeking to comply with the CPSIA (much of which is internally contradictory and leaves many questions unanswered) they have not issued a simple, easy to understand document that describes which products must be tested and which tests must be performed.

So, we thought we'd help out.

We are happy to introduce the Handmade Toy Alliance CPSIA Testing Flowchart. It is intended for manufacturers making products now, not resellers. This reflects our best understanding of what tests the CPSIA requires manufacturers to perform. We're happy to take any suggestions for how this document could be improved--so let us know what you think.

Please feel free to share this document or post it on your site. We would also like to offer this document to the CPSC--we would love to see it used in an official capacity to help educate small business owners, many of whom have been driven to tears while trying to understand the CPSIA.

Download the CPSIA Testing Requirements Flowchart here.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Consumer Confusion Over CPSIA Comes From CPSC Guidance, Not the Media

On October 3, CPSC Chair Inez Tenenbaum wrote an editorial in The Product Safety Forum about CPSC oversight of the resale market. "News outlets," she wrote, "have generated stories aimed at scaring hard-working, well-intentioned families about a new federal law that my agency, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, has been working hard to use to build safer communities."

Today, Handmade Toy Alliance board member Rob Wilson published a response in the same publication. Wilson wrote:
It's not the media causing confusion and panic in the marketplace, as Ms. Tenenbaum asserts in her article. In fact, the fears were caused by the CPSC itself, originating in its recently published guidebook, CPSC Handbook for Resale Stores and Product Resellers...If Chairman Tenenbaum wants coats, toys, books and children's products to remain in thrift stores this Christmas season, she needs to stop being a mouthpiece for the authors of the legislation who claim the law is absolutely perfect. If she wants families to be able to sell their kids' old clothes and toys on the weekends and remain law abiding citizens, she must start being an advocate for a common sense approach to implementing CPSIA.
Read Wilson's full article here.

The problems with the CPSIA will not be solved in the media. What we need is accelerated common-sense rule making by the CPSC and someone in congress with the courage and strength of character to correct this flawed law.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

CPSIA Component-Based Testing: a Day Late and a Dollar Short

On January 30, 2009, the CPSC stopped accepting comments on third-party testing of component parts under Section 102 of the CPSIA with a promise that guidance would be issued soon.

Nine months later, we are still waiting for them to issue rules that would allow component testing. With only 4 months left until third party testing becomes mandatory for all children's products, this delay is becoming less and less acceptable.

The Handmade Toy Alliance sent comments on component testing to the CPSC on December 30, 2008. We told the CPSC, "The use of component testing would allow many of us to remain in business, while adhering to the current regulations outlined in the CPSIA." Ten months later, we have still not received a reply.

Why is component testing important? Consider the lowly zipper. Without component testing, every pillow, pair of pants, dress, or kid's purse that uses a given style of zipper would have to test every zipper tooth, stop, and pull on every finished SKU. That's right--the same zipper under current CPSC guidance must be tested over and over by different manufacturers, once for every finished product type in which it is used.

With component testing, the zipper manufacturer can test and certify that the zipper meets lead content limits so that everyone who makes something with that zipper won't have to pay to test it again. The savings to small businesses are exponential.

Also, component testing would force CPSIA compliance upstream in the product supply chain, which would improve the safety of finished products for all consumer goods, not just CPSIA-regulated children's products. Manufacturers of paint, varnish, snaps, zippers, polyurethane laminate, hinges, screws, and velcro will all have an economic incentive to test and certify their materials.

Even consumer groups and Congressional leaders who fight against a technical amendment of the CPSIA have argued that component-based testing would solve many of the CPSIA's "implementation issues". Indeed, on January 16, 2009, CPSIA authors Henry Waxman, Bobby Rush, John D. Rockefeller and Mark Pryor wrote to the CPSC:
We encourage the Commission to move more quickly in consideration of [component testing]...The Commission must provide clearer guidance on this issue, and it must do so with greater speed than it has exhibited thus far. We do not believe that reaching a decision by August 2009 represents a sufficiently timely resolution of this issue.
And yet, here we are in October 2009 with no ruling on component testing in sight.

At this point, even if component testing were allowed as of tomorrow morning, it will be too late for many small businesses. The 2/10/10 deadline for third party testing is fast approaching and manufacturers are already buying materials now that they will still be using to make products after that deadline. Even though small-batch manufacturers have been working together to create a directory of CPSIA-Compliant materials, without CPSC-issued regulations we have little power to force suppliers to test and certify. Why would a zipper company spend money to test its zippers if the law doesn't justify it?

So, how can a useful component-based testing regulation be put in place in less than four months?

It can't.

The CPSC has stated that they do not plan to extend the one year stay of enforcement on testing requirements beyond 2/10/10. But, because of their lack of action on component-based testing, the only fair and workable solution will be to grant a further extension of the stay.

Common sense delayed is common sense denied.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Tenenbaum sets CPSIA enforcement priorities for garage sales. Why not handmade, too?

In an editorial this week in the policy periodical Product Safety, CPSC chair Inez Tenenbaum sought to assuage fears that her agency would be "fining people who host yard sales or garage sales." Rather, the CPSC will be working to educate resellers from eBay sellers to Goodwill Industries "to create a safer marketplace and a greater awareness of real hazards in the home and in the community."

Tenenbaum's assurances follow a month or more of critical press reports warning that, under the CPSC's Resale Roundup program, a misbegotten toy at a garage sale could land you in jail. Sure it seems far-fetched, but the letter of the CPSIA law does not exclude garage sales from CPSC enforcement action, unless perhaps one wanted to hire a constitutional lawyer to argue that the CPSC's authority does not extend to intrastate commerce. And, there is the example of the Indiana grandmother who got arrested for buying two bottles of cold medicine in the same week...

But, worry not, garage and yard sellers of America. Tenenbaum says the CPSC won't be coming for you, although she does "encourage consumers to educate themselves about recalls and hazardous products by visiting hosting a yard sale, creating an online auction, or taking some old products from the garage or attic to the local thrift store."

Of course, this exclusion wasn't published in the Federal Register, but in an editorial piece in an obscure inside the beltway policy paper. So, it has no real authority to back it up. And, the document might have been better received if Ms. Tenenbaum had taken the time to spell out some specifics. For example, if yard sales won't be targeted, what about craft fairs? Church sales? Flea markets? Swap meets? What about products like crystals and rhinestones that haven't been recalled but are no longer legal under the CPSIA?

Nonetheless, we feel that Tenenbaum's thinking here is extremely useful. She's not saying that garage sales don't need to comply with the CPSIA--just that the CPSC is setting an enforcement strategy which does not target them. And why should they, when they can get more bang for their buck by working with the largest resellers like eBay, the Salvation Army, and Goodwill to assure compliance? It's simple risk analysis.

Chair Tenenbaum should set the same type of enforcement strategy with handmade goods, which are directly analogous to garage sales. The CPSC should set a reasonable definition for handmade, such as businesses with no more than 2 employees, businesses that make less than x number of products per year, and one-of-a-kind items. Yes, these products must conform to CPSIA standards for lead and phthalate content, but the CPSC would not take enforcement action against these businesses for not conducting third party tests. Publish these guidelines in the Federal Register and work with groups like the Etsy and the Handmade Toy Alliance to communicate expectations to crafters. We've already offered to help.

This is not an exemption we're asking for. We are merely asking Chair Tenenbaum to not enforce testing requirements on micro-businesses. That won't solve problems for all of our member businesses, but it would be a common sense step in the right direction.

Note: HTA board member Rob Wilson has posted a somewhat more critical reaction to Chair Tenenbaum's editorial on CPSIA-Central. As always, his analysis is dead-on and worth the read.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Understanding the True Costs of CPSIA Testing Requirements

Photo of hand-painted acorns by Mamaroots via the Flikr album of endangered toys.

We've recently been challenged about our claims regarding the true costs of testing and whether our cost range of $300-$4,000 is correct. So, let's explore this topic a little closer.

First, some consumer groups seem to believe that clothes, wood products, and books have been exempted from testing requirements. In fact, this is not correct. Fabric, untreated woods and post-1985 books have been rendered exempt by the CPSC [pdf]. However, most clothing has some other notion on it, such as a button, snap, zipper, Velcro, etc., that would make the end product subject to the third party testing regulation. Wood that has paint or a finish on it or has exposed components such as screws or hinges must also undergo testing. Books printed prior to 1985 must be tested for lead. And, all toys must be tested for ASTM F963 (physical and mechanical tests) compliance. Although the CPSC's exemptions are helpful, we are hardly out of the woods. Most of our members will still be required to third party test for their products that are lead free.

And, although there have been non-toxic dyes and paints on the market for some time, they are not pre-empted from testing by the CPSC. Indeed, the testing requirements on paints and dyes are more stringent. Once paint, varnish, or any other surface treatment such as a silkscreen is applied to wood or fabric, the end product must be tested. One would hope that the CPSC would allow the common sense approach of component based certification, which would allow us to rely on testing of material components instead of finished products, but the CPSC has not yet approved this.

We have also heard consumer groups claim that the average cost per toy test is as low as $75. We agree this would be a more manageable fee, but reality again proves more severe. There may be a misunderstanding as to the type of testing that we are quoting. We are referring to third party testing in a CPSC certified laboratory. This is digestive testing, which destroys the sample, not XRF scanning of the product which keeps the sample intact (a method that we advocate). It should be noted that once the stay of enforcement ends on 2/10/10, digestive batch testing by a certified lab will be the ONLY approved testing method.

The oft-cited figure of $75 per test is actually the approximate cost of a digestive lead test on a single element of a product. Each zipper, button, screw, color of paint, or piece of trim is considered a separate element and each must be tested for lead. Each size or color of a toy is also considered a different product and must also undergo the same test even if the materials are the same. So, the cost of CPSIA-certified lead testing increases quickly depending upon the design of the product and how many tests it requires. Also, toys must be tested for phthalates and ASTM conformity, which can be even costlier to perform. And, under section 102(d)(2)(B) of the CPSIA, testing must be repeated, possibly as frequently as every year. We stand behind our estimates of $300 - $4,000 per item for CPSIA-compliant testing.

We strongly believe that this cost burden is untenable for small manufacturers. We recognize that toy safety is important and testing is a good tool to assure that consumers have access to safe toys, but we advocate a testing requirement that allows for XRF testing, component based certification and a reasonable ASTM test without driving the most conscientious, innovative and unique manufactures out of business. We are not against testing, just against redundant and burdensome testing.

XRF testing for lead would be much more affordable. In fact, a great majority of our members have utilized this technology in order to continue selling their product during the stay. The CPSC uses this methodology regularly as a screening technique and deemed it a “reasonable testing protocol”.

We also advocate for component based certification. This way, all of the raw materials that we utilize in our product lines would be tested prior to coming into our studios, thereby enhancing compliance up the supply stream. Manufacturers could then use these certifications to prove compliance under the law. Unfortunately, this is not written into the CPSIA. Nor has the CPSC ruled that these methodologies are compliant with the CPSIA.

Our goal at the Handmade Toy Alliance has always been to find a way to verify the safety of children's products without driving small manufacturers out of business. We still do not believe that most consumer groups want our businesses to fail, and we again call on them to join us in an honest discussion that begins with a realistic understanding of the issues posed by the CPSIA.