About a month ago I wrote about the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) and what it would mean for consumers in terms of new warning labels on websites and catalogs like SteveSpanglerScience.com . Along with these informative warning labels about choking hazards, balloons and small pieces, the CPSIA requires mandatory safety testing on all products designed for children ages 12 and under. So… what does that mean for consumers, businesses and even the economy?… it may mean a significant decline in the amount of children’s product manufacturers and product on the market.

For Steve Spangler Science, the safety of our products has always been our primary concern, and we are working diligently to meet these new safety requirements. But, steep testing costs and the scope of the safety requirements are leaving lots of companies with little choice but to close their doors when the law goes into effect on February 10, 2009. NationalBankruptcyDay.com is a site dedicated solely to getting the word out about the far-reaching detriments of this well-intended bill. A recent survey published on their site estimates that only 61% of American toy sellers will not survive the fall-out of the CPSIA, and because current inventory can not be sold after February 10, unless it has been tested, the site also projects that approximately 70 million dollars worth of toy inventory will be disposed of in February.

The law intends to eradicate chemicals like lead and phthalates from all children’s products in response to the international lead scare of a few years ago. Again, well-intended but the CPSIA seems to be missing it’s mark. Children’s toy manufacturers are facing testing fees of upwards of $500-$1000 for every SKU in their inventory. This applies to everyone producing or selling children’s products, including crafters, artisans and even thrift stores. Unfortunately, small businesses and individual crafters simply can’t afford this type of testing and will probably end up closing their doors on February 10th. Etsy.com is a popular web-based crafting marketplace, where vendors come together from all over the world to sell their unique handmade goods. 1,000s of these products are geared at children, and most Etsy vendors fear they have no option but to stop selling their goods because of the CPSIA ruling because they can’t afford to have every item tested.

Thrift stores predict an equally difficult time with the legislation and faced a shocking disappointment when a amendment to the law — which would exempt them from testing product as long as they were sure it was safe — was stalled when President Barack Obama froze all pending legislation. The shock and disappointment doesn’t end with thrift stores. The internet is buzzing with CPSIA news and forums and a quick search on Twitter produces hundreds of results. Even the Wall Street Journal and Forbes magazine are weighing in on the topic… and neither voice a favorable opinion of what the government is calling “unforeseen consequences” of the safety bill. Environmental groups have made their stand clear also, as consumers who would normally donate their used goods to thrift stores will now have no choice but to dispose of them in quickly growing landfills.

So, where do you stand on the issue of CPSIA? I think that keeping our children safe and taking every possible precaution is of the utmost importance, but at what cost to our economy and to hard working entrepreneurs are we maintaining these safety standards?

8 replies
  1. Kathleen
    Kathleen says:

    . NationalBankruptcyDay.com is a site dedicated solely to getting the word out about the far-reaching detriments of this well-intended bill. A recent survey published on their site estimates that only 61% of American toy sellers will survive the fall-out of the CPSIA,

    Our data mentioned in that entry shows that 61% will NOT survive the fall out, not that 61% will. Since then, this figure has been revised but not yet released. The new figure is 70% will not survive.

    Also, the study was deliberately industry neutral and not limited to toys. Since toys are only 20% of the children’s products market, there’s no way to break it down according to the affect on toy makers you mention.

  2. venhi
    venhi says:

    Interesting post Steve..I wonder how else we can use this “back to basics” time America is in to revive science education. There are still too few kids choosing it as a college major..

  3. Pat
    Pat says:

    Thanks so much for this thought provoking article. I never thought about the unintended consequences of this before. Like everyone else, people jump on the band wagon when we hear we want things to be safer for our children but forget to look at the big picture. I will be thinking more about this now.

  4. James@Pink DS Lite
    [email protected] DS Lite says:

    There is a fine line between safety and lunacy. Here in the UK retailers have become so paranoid about potential Health and Safety litigation that one major supermarket now includes a warning on label milk cartons- ‘Contains milk’…Welcome to the asylum!


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  1. […] But it is a significant burden on smaller domestic manufacturers. See these articles, for example: CPSIA Could Wage Severe Effects on Consumers, Retailers and the Economy CPSIA Impact on Small Business, Thrift Stores, and the Environment CPSIA Update […]

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