Tuesday, 6 January 2009


CPSIA worries...

Being in the States for the last month or so, and unactive in blogs and forums, I didn't hear about the impending legislation that will be in effect from 10 February. I'm desperately trying to find out as much as I can about how it will affect my business, but there is so much conflicting information and opinions being posted all over the place.

In response the the recent lead-paint debacle in children's toys from China, the US government passed legislation to safeguard products intended for (or likely used by) children under the age of twelve. The CPSIA demands that from 10 February, all apparel, toys etc have to have every component independantly lab tested for lead. So far, so sensible... Surely I can't argue against protecting children from lead poisoning, right!?

Problem is though, the testing is prohibitively expensive. And you can't rely on certificates provided by suppliers, anything for children has to be end-tested by the maker, at their expense. My current understanding is that if I was to sell a reversible coat to the American market, I would have to have each fabric tested, buttons, interfacing, interlining... for each colourway or material that I had in a style. For every style I had in a range.

Etsy sellers are in an uproar, if enforced ($100,000 fine per non-tested item) it will drive many, many WAHMs out of business. Or at least the fear of it will. Many are already despairingly launching huge sales just now and then closing up shop at the Feb deadline. If you want more information about how people are feeling in Etsy, here are a couple of useful threads:

There has even been a website (actually I've found many websites created specifically in response to this law) called National Bankruptcy Day. Find out on there how to challenge this law by signing a petition, writing to the CSPC, or to your legislator (if you are in the US). Or join a Facebook group. You can even tell Obama.

The position of international crafters selling into the American market is even more unclear, and the news has made it into a post on Folksy. There is a lot of ambiguity about who is responsible for the certificate in these cases, the maker (me) or the importer (an American re-saler or technically, even the consumer, e.g. the parents!). I'm not sure how I would go about getting the testing in the UK. And would it be valid / recognised? Everyone seems to be adopting a wait and see approach...

All of it makes my head hurt! I'm really not sure what to do with my stock and Etsy shop... Better get cracking on my getting my patterns out for sale!


  1. I'm glad you posted this. I hadn't heard about it yet.

  2. this is all soo soo scary (as a seller) and very sad. The wool I knit with is almost never lead-based...but most of my buyers are American.

  3. Yep, scary and sad stuff. And kept remarkably quiet until very recently. There seems to be a movement afoot, so it'll be interesting to see what happens next...