There has been quite a bit of New Year controversy surrounding regulations under the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) set to go into effect February 10, 2009. Aimed at protecting children from lead-tainted products, the CPSIA, has missed the mark; the damage could be disastrous.
Under the CPSIA, children's clothes, toys, shoes, and yes, even some WAHM-made cloth diapers, will require lead and phthalate testing by an independent party to be in compliance.
Is CPSC to Help Thrifts & Resale on the CPSIA, an article at TheSmartMama.com, further explains,
"For background, the CPSIA imposes a lead limit on children's products on February 10 2009. As written, the CPSIA defines all children's products that do not meet a 600 parts per million (ppm) lead limit as 'banned hazardous substances' under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act (FHSA). The FHSA prohibits the distribution in commerce of any banned hazardous substance. The CPSC's General Counsel has made it very clear that the CPSC believes the law requires all children's products in the market, including resale, to be obligated to meet the law."
January 8th, the Office of Information and Public Affairs further clarified how this law will affect resellers, specifically thrift and consignment stores.
"The new law requires that domestic manufacturers and importers certify that children's products made after February 10 meet all the new safety standards on the lead ban. Sellers of used children's products, such as thrift stores and consignment stores, are not required to certify that those products meet the new lead limits, phthalates standard or new toy standards."
But what of products made before February 10th?
"The new safety law does not require resellers to test children's products in inventory for compliance with the lead limit before they are sold. However, resellers cannot sell children's products that exceed the lead limit and therefore should avoid products that are likely to have lead content, unless they have testing or other information to indicate the products being sold have less than the new limit. Those resellers that do sell products in violation of the new limits could face civil and/or criminal penalties."
Isn't that just like the government? I translate this to mean they do not have the manpower (a.k.a. 'PO-lice') to make sure that all resellers comply with testing, but they want to cover their butt should any child die of lead poisoning from a product purchased from a reseller.
In other words, "Do what you want, but we will take you for everything you have if you sell a product that doesn't meet the new lead requirements and something happens."
How will this affect the cloth diaper manufacturing industry?
Well, for the small businesses - and by small business, I mean Work At Home Moms that sew diapers one by one, not large manufacturing facilities - it is the equivalent of stripping their families' supplemental income. Testing a single small item can cost as much as $400, according to Kathleen McHugh, president of the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association. Imagine what cloth diapers will cost if independent testing of fabrics, thread, snaps and elastic must be enforced. Both the manufacturer, retailer and buyer's costs will see an exponential increase.
The environmental impact laughs in the face of any supposed 'GREEN' efforts on the part of the government. When the maker of that $8.00 cloth diaper can't afford the $150 test, where will the sustainable option for cloth diapers go?
IN THE LANDFILLS along with the disposable diapers.
Oh my, what do you bet the disposable diaper manufacturers are having a great big group hug right now?
Once again we move away from problem solving (For instance, place restrictions on imports from China!) to applying a government size band-aid. Only after this bit of government idiocy, we will need far more than a band-aid - not even a tourniquet could stop the bleeding-out of our ma and pa shops, small businesses, and anyone else that creates, produces or sells anything child-related.
And if you think the 100% cotton cloth diapers will remain untouched, you're right. But that's only if you don't consider that most cloth diapers aren't 100% cotton - they are made of other 'ingredients' as well.
What about the polyester thread? How about that elastic? The snaps, zippers, buttons, Aplix, Velcro.