The CPSIA is a well-intentioned law that requires companies to test for quantities of lead in products intended for children under twelve years of age.
Sounds good. So what's the catch?
It might cost $4,000 to test a handmade baby rattle. From the full article in MAKE magazine:
So how does this affect New York Review Books?
we make books that are intended for children under twelve years of age, and this new act requires us to have our books tested for lead content. At the present, there are very few labs that can actually accomplish this, and we are already facing delays in getting new titles in our children's series published. It's also going to impact our costs substantially.
In the meantime, there is no significant amount of lead in children’s books—these are products made with inks (often soy-based), paper, board, and cloth.
The safety of children is important to everyone here at New York Review Books. But here is the scenario we're faced with, from a memo from the Bookbinders' Guild of New York:
All existing paper-based children’s books such as The Cat in the Hat, Goodnight Moon and Harry Potter as well as thousands of textbook titles—tens of millions of books—currently on the shelves of our nation’s classrooms, public and school libraries, bookstores and in warehouses may simply be removed and destroyed because they cannot feasibly be tested to assure compliance with these unfounded toxicity concerns. All new paper-based books—not plastic toys in the shape of books—will be needlessly subjected to expensive and time-consuming testing that will overwhelm the few laboratories accredited for testing of actual children’s toys and other children’s products potentially presenting real threats of lead toxicity.
The most surreal aspect of all of this has been the timing. From the Washington Post:
Please help us, as well as other small publishers by urging your representative to revise this act. There is not much time left, the CPSIA makes testing mandatory on Feburary 10th, 2009 -- a date which just recently has been coined National Bankruptcy Day.
Here are just a few representatives you can contact.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi
Washington, DC Office (202) 225-4965
Representative Henry Waxman
Chairman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce
Washington, DC Office (202) 225-3976
Senator Chuck Schumer
Washington, DC Office (202) 224-6542
New York City (212) 486-4430