J. Michael Smith, Esq.
Michael P. Farris, Esq.
Commission Announces Major Changes to Child Product Safety Rules
HSLDA met on Wednesday with Commissioner Thomas Moore, of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, to discuss the law imposing strict limitations on lead and phthalates in children’s products. The proposed regulations had persuaded many small family businesses to shut their doors and cease production. We are pleased to report that CPSC announced numerous changes to their regulations. Home School Legal Defense Association is satisfied with the meeting and its aftermath and remains strongly convinced that no small business should close down because of the lead requirements, which take effect February 10.
Changes made by the Commission
Last Friday, the CPSC declared numerous changes in their regulations, including the following exemptions that correspond with requests made by HSLDA in our meeting with Commissioner Moore:
- An exemption for certain natural materials such as wood, cotton, wool, and certain metals and alloys that rarely contain lead;
- An exemption for ordinary children's books printed after 1985;*
- An exemption for textiles, dyed or undyed (not including leather, vinyl, or PVC) and non-metallic thread and trim used in children's apparel and other fabric products, such as baby blankets.
* HSLDA asked for an exemption for all books. Commissioner Moore argues, however, that the ink in books prior to the 1980s did contain lead.1
Prosecution under the law, the CPSC announced, will ensue only if “someone had actual knowledge that one of these children’s products contained more than 600 ppm lead or continued to make, import, distribute or sell such a product after being put on notice.”2 In fact, according to Commissioner Moore, manufacturers will not be prosecuted for violating the law during the one-year postponement of testing requirements (lasting till February 10, 2010), unless their products actually cause an injury or have the potential to hurt someone.3 Moore further assured HSLDA that small businesses, in particular, will have nothing to worry about. “Historically, we haven’t gone after these kinds of businesses,” he told HSLDA, “not cottage industries.”
HSLDA hopes that these policies, along with the Commission’s yearlong postponement of testing requirements, will provide significant relief to family businesses and providers to the homeschool community.
“If there is one message a small manufacturer should take from the Commission’s action [of delaying testing requirements] it is this,” Commissioner Moore said: “If you have been making products without receiving any safety-related complaints, you should go on selling your products.” This will remain true for at least until February 10, 2010. Even beyond this date, HSLDA is confident of the future of small businesses under this law, and is grateful to the Commission for its cooperation and its sensitivity to the needs of family businesses.
1. Thomas Moore, letter to Senators Rockefeller and Pryor, and Representatives Waxman and Rush, http://www.cpsc.gov/PR/Moore020309.pdf (February 3, 2009), p. 4
2. Consumer Product Safety Commission, “CPSC Spells Out Enforcement Policy For New Lead Limits In Children’s Products Effective February 10,” http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml09/09120.html (February 6, 2009).
3. Thomas Moore, letter to Senators Rockefeller and Pryor, and Representatives Waxman and Rush, http://www.cpsc.gov/PR/Moore020309.pdf (February 3, 2009), p. 5.