Thursday, January 15, 2009

Dangerous Books!!! Killer Kids' Clothes!!!

Today's highlights and thoughts on the CPSIA.

Libraries: Ban Kids - Don't Burn Books!

Libraries also are concerned about the Act, and American Library Association leadership has been quoted in press interviews predicting that libraries could have to destroy existing holdings or keep children away from the books. According to Library Journal, the ALA sent a letter to Congress last week asking for an exemption for libraries; later executive director Amy Sheketoff posted a note on the organization’s District Dispatch that counseled libraries not to take any action until the uncertainty is sorted out.

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I hope that libraries would sooner shut their doors, temporarily, to children under age 13 than to destroy or warehouse any part of their collections. While an immediate repeal or resolution to the problem of the CPSIA may not come in time to save the cottage industry of handmade toys and clothes, and many small publishers will not hang in there long enough to see it through, I am confident that our lawmakers will soon see how ridiculous it is to include ordinary books - even those intended specifically for children under age 13 - in the scope of the CPSIA.

I suppose handheld, electronic book readers will gain a windfall from the demise of children's books. It would be tempting, but unfair, I suppose, to say something like "Amazon Kindles the flame that ultimately burns books" - many of us would not have heard of the CPSIA were it not for Amazon's notice that they would stop carrying our titles unless our publishers provided proof of CPSIA compliance (hard to do, when the CPSC still hasn't defined acceptable testing and certification methods) by January 15.

Boy Scouts of America (BSA) and Girl Scouts of America (GSA)

I wonder if the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts were blindsided by this, too. I suspect they were, and I suspect that they are scrambling to figure out what to do.

[The CPSIA] will impact all the ordering of gear, patches and so on for NOAC 2009, for the 45,000+ attendees of the 100th Anniversary National Scout Jamboree at Camp A.P. Hill in Virginia, and every summer camp’s trading post for the 2009 season (and so on). That’s a lot of stuff.

. . .

The gear, patches and clothing currently in inventory is what will cause the most interest by BSA National because 300+ council offices have lots of stuff in inventory in their stores and summer camp trading posts.

All of it has to be certified or tested, or it must be removed from sale on Feb 10th. Or someone has to find an exemption. Right now, there are no exemptions.

This law was written primarily to deal with large multi-national firms importing containers of lead-tainted junk toys, so the fines are substantial.

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Actual Recalls by CPSC Since August, 2007


Faulty Instructions Prompt Recall of Electrical Wiring How-to-Books by The Taunton Press; shock Hazard to Consumers (


Children's Necklaces with Ballet Shoes Charms; solder on the charm of the necklace may contain high levels of lead, which if ingested by young children can cause adverse health effects.


Children's Board Book Sets Recalled By Dalmatian Press Due to Choking Hazard


eeBoo Sketchbooks; paint on wire binding contains lead


Journals from Antioch Publishing; paint on the spiral metal bindings of the journals contains lead


Priddy "Trucks" Shaker Teether Books; small pieces of the teether can break off, posing a choking hazard to young children.

Going back as far as 2002, using a search for "book," the preponderance of recalls were due to cutesy, detachable playthings or embellishments on books that might cause a choking hazard to small children. The only lead recalls were the ones shown here; one was due to a necklace sold with a book, and the others were strictly due to paint coatings on wire bindings.

Of the children's clothing that was recalled, most of it was due to choking or strangulation hazards. Drawstrings on children's clothes should be banned! But then, so should snaps and buttons. These things could actually kill a kid.

Then again, so could tripping over the pants that just fell down around their ankles. Maybe it would be better to say, "Parents, supervise your children when they are wearing clothes. Teach your kids to use drawstrings responsibly, and not to pull things off their clothes and stick them into their mouths."

God knows, we all needed a good laugh.

Julie Vallese (former spokeswoman for the CPSC) opened herself to the disdain and fury of the blogging community when she said, condescendingly, "There is a lot of misinformation being floated out by the media, by the mommy blogs, by others blogging on legislation that they're just not understanding…it needs to be clear, and it needs to be concise in terms of their requirements under the law." As if the CPSC's own clarifications were clear or concise in terms of anyone's requirements under the law.

I’ll sleep better, now. But you might want to rethink your condescending remarks about "the media, the mommy-bloggers…"

"Resellers need to have a certain level of confidence," said Vallese, "that they are meeting the law," which is exactly the point - when you're told, on the one hand, that there is no requirement to test used merchandise, but that you are going to be held liable for compliance, nonetheless - that you just have to have a "level of confidence" that your products meet the requirements (which are "not defined in the legislation") it doesn't exactly give you a "level of confidence," does it?

If resellers do choose to test their merchandise, Vallese informs us that lead swab tests aren't good enough for the CPSC. XRF technology might be used as a rough screening tool, but it's not definitive.

Thanks, Ms. Vallese, for clarifying the obfuscation, or further obfuscating the clarification, or telling us what the CPSIA means, by way of what it doesn’t.


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  1. Hey Holly. FWIW, snopes lists this scare as "False" based on the clarification that came out. I was going to send them an email with a link to your blog, but I wonder if it's be better if you directly sent them a post or two with an introduction? I know they are open to revising their conclusions...they just need to be convinced to do more research into topics.

  2. Do you have a link? I did see one Snopes article that accurately listed as false the rumor that thrift stores and other resellers would be "forced to close their doors" on Feb. 10. The TRUTH is that they will be held liable if they sell anything containing lead, but they are NOT required to test and certify used goods. Last I looked, Snopes had that right. Unfortunately, the headlines keep saying resellers are EXEMPT, implying that they are completely exempt from all requirements of the CPSIA. In fact, some may close their doors out of caution, because they can't achieve that "level of confidence" that Vallese describes in this interview. They'll take the "better safe than sorry" approach, rather than risk such stiff penalties as five years in jail, or $100,000 fines.

    Recent blog post: CPSIA: More Weasel Words Render "Clarification" Murky

  3. “Amazon Kindles the flame that ultimately burns books” Great quote I emailed the same idea to Vivian the other day hopping it could be a short term fix to keep the books on the shelf so to speak she felt that even Kindles would need to do testing
    But your post have been a great help for me to understand what is going on

    Recent blog post: January 15th

  4. I don't know how we can depend on Kindles anyway. They are expensive, and it costs the publisher to have titles available.

    Hmm ... Amazon wins all the way around, don't they?

    Recent blog post: A tour for the Junior Geography Detective Squad

  5. That really was my point. If this law stands, I REFUSE to buy an eBook reader (there are other brands; all will get a windfall from this), and I think parents and schools should refuse, as well. It's cool technology, but we should not be forced to adopt it in order to provide books to kids.

    Recent blog post: Dangerous Books!!! Killer Kids' Clothes!!!

  6. I hadn't even thought of the effect on nonprofit organizations such as the Scouts or other places that kids have to gain some self-confidence and do activities that bring them together for good old fashioned fun.

    You rhave hit several nails on the head. I for one will not purchase an ereader either. We can read on our computers but even that can be straining. I'd rather be able to close the book and put it aside when I'm ready to close my eyes to go to sleep. I'm still hung up on why it took 62 pages to state that lead levels have to be banned or meet these minimum requirements through the stepdown process in products for kids 12 and under, when lead based paints were banned 30 years ago. I'm also not sure why the government is targeting the United States when we didn't produce the original recalled, high level lead, small parts, choking hazard products in the first place. This is what baffles me.

    Keep up the good fight Holly. I'm behind you and everyone else who is fighting this law. E ;)

    Recent blog post: Travel the States book tour

  7. Thank you for spreading the word to your readers.

    Recent blog post: January 1st - December Wrap Up

  8. No, you're right. They do have the facts down correctly. I didn't read carefully enough. As long as folks are willing to risk the verbal assurance that they won't be held libel, then all is fine and dandy. :-/ Great.

  9. I'd like to commend you on your use of the word obfuscation. It's one of my favorite words and doesn't get used enough. Reading your posts makes my sensibilities tingle. I'm not good with the facts, so I can appreciate somebody like you who is. I'd love to have you on my side in a debate!

    Keep up the good fight.

    Recent blog post: Tagged! More stuff about me to make your eyes glaze over


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