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CPSIA: "Congress is completely clueless about what is coming"



One of the better blog posts on the subject of the extraordinary burdens of CPSIA was Eric Husman's last month. A few excerpts:

...there are some details. You can't just not use lead or phthalates. You can't just point out that you are using undyed organic hemp and wooden toggles. No, you must prove that you are lead- and phthalate-free. How? Well, at $600-2400 per item, you ship it off to a certified testing lab. Plus, it's destructive testing, so kiss 1-12 samples of whatever it is goodbye. Also, you need to make sure that it is a representative lot, so no more repurposing of used clothes. Also, you need to provide this General Compliance Certificate (GCC) to anyone downstream who wants it. At any time. And be sure you can trace it by lot. Also, you may have to put up a bond in case they want to recall your product so that they know you can cover the cost of the recall.

Now, there's something you may not know about apparel manufacture (and you still won't know at the end of this paragraph because I'm simplifying the heck out of it). You start by developing about 20 styles and see what gets bought. Once buyers buy on the strength of the sample, you order the material and start sewing. The CPSIA testing has to be done on the final product (unit testing), not the inputs (component testing). So even though you are using the same organic cotton cloth and 5 different dyes and 3 different buttons, you can't get by with doing 8 tests (the cloth in 5 colors plus tests on each button). Nope, you have to do testing on 20 different styles x 5 different colors = 100 tests. Of which only 5 styles will ultimately go to market. That's a minimum of $60,000 just for the testing, and you haven't even started to sell yet.

By the way, size does not matter in the eyes of this law. Hanes T-shirts? Yes, they have to test. Grandpa's handmade toys that he sells on eBay? Yep, in fact eBay and Etsy are already noting that legal compliance is a requirement of their user terms of use. Also, manufacturing location does not matter - whether you make in or contract to China, Los Angeles, or Lancaster County, you have to test. ...One further thing: On February 10, if you don't have the GCC, you are selling illegally. ...

Other topics covered: the push by some advocates for phthalate testing on inventories produced before the law's effective date, the surprisingly large size of the manufacturing sector involved, and (inevitably) the leading role of "Saint Nader's" PIRG as well as the Natural Resources Defense Council.

"Incidentally," the piece concludes, "you might want to stock up on interesting children's clothing." A lot of it will be gone this time next year. (Part of CPSIA Blogging Day, more than 300 blogs participating).

P.S. Also on testing, Little Ida has a map of the rather sparse locations of available lead lab testing: many big states have no such facilities at all, which is going to make it an even bigger hassle for small producers to secure the requisite testing.

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy
rmangual@manhattan-institute.org

Katherine Lazarski
Manhattan Institute
klazarski@manhattan-institute.org

 

Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.