We've been spending the past 15 months trying to get Congress and the CPSC to understand how the CPSIA threatens to destroy small manufacturers and handcrafters for the sake of an unobtainable set of safety standards. And, we've made progress. Natural materials, paper, and fabrics were exempted from third party testing. Component testing is now allowed. Congress is even listening to our concerns, although offering only a little hope for improvement.
And then, last month, the Associated Press discovered cadmium in a few pieces of mass market children's jewelry. Congressional Democrats reacted by drafting legislation to ban cadmium in children's jewelry, since it is already banned by the CPSIA in toys. CPSC Chair Tenenbaum, also a Democrat, said that she already had all the authority she needed to regulate cadmium under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act and was already exercising that authority. More or less, the situation seemed under control--the federal government was acting to keep this toxic heavy metal away from children.
But, this time around, state politicians wanted credit for protecting children from cadmium. Now, a slew of bills aimed at both jewelry and toys are now pending in at least eight states: Illinois, Florida, California, Connecticut, Mississippi, Minnesota, New Jersey, and New York. The worst of this maddening crowd are from CA, IL, NJ and CT--these bills would basically ban cadmium in any amount from any children's product--an impossible standard for any product. Cadmium, after all, is a naturally occurring element and is found in trace amounts in almost everything from carrots to carpet.
Not only are these requirements totally out of synch from federal requirements and bear no relation to established science or any documented risk, but they also multiply the problems that manufactures of all sizes are already facing under the CPSIA.
We repeat: CADMIUM IS ALREADY REGULATED IN TOYS by the CPSIA and is being effectively eliminated from children's jewelry by the CPSC. These laws will not improve upon current law or reduce the public's exposure to cadmium.
If we truly want to kill small American manufacturers and handcrafters, these state by state bills are surely the way to do it. We already know that we can't afford to test to federal CPSIA requirements--how can we afford to test to 50 very different state requirements?
If you live in any of these states, now is the time to write to your state representative and demand changes to these bills. Write both to your precinct's representatives and to the author of the bill. Point out that the federal government already regulates cadmium in both toys and jewelry and that even crafters are now participating in a global marketplace where state-by-state legislating only causes problems without creating solutions.
As we have learned from the CPSIA, its a LOT easier to change a bill than it is to change a law.
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