EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 2203 - January 18, 2010     2 of 4

CPSIA Report to Congress Discusses Impact of Law on Booksellers, Crafters

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The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a report to Congress last week on the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). The act bans phthalate and lead in products intended for children under the age of 12 and has come under heavy criticism for being burdensome to crafters, consignment and thrift stores, and small businesses.

Section 101 of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) established numerical limits for lead content of children's products. The Commission's report assessed enforcement efforts of section 101 and difficulties encountered, and said issues involving lead content limits could be placed into three categories:

  • the scope of the products covered and requests for exclusion;
  • the retroactive application of the law to products already in distribution for the use and enjoyment of children;
  • the cost of testing and certifying products for lead content.

The Commission said it has been mindful of the small business and crafter community in its implementation of the Act, and said it had taken steps to reduce unnecessary testing and certification costs without undercutting the safety benefits of third-party testing.

It also pointed to special issue for libraries and bookstores after testing older books and finding that books printed in the 1970s and earlier exceed the lead limits. In February 2009, the Commission had announced it would not seek penalties for sale or distribution of children's books printed after 1985 unless the seller or distributor had actual knowledge that the book's lead content exceeded 600 ppm.

The CPSIA requires at least one future reduction of the lead content limit, from 300 ppm to 100 ppm in August 2011. According to the report,

The upcoming challenge for the agency in FY 2010 and 2011 will be the determination of when and whether it is technologically feasible for the lead content in a particular product to be lowered to 100 ppm. The lead content in all children's products must be lowered to 100 ppm unless a petitioner requests relief. The CPSC staff anticipates numerous requests and difficulties in handling those petitions by the deadline in August 2011. While some of the Commissioners have expressed their reluctance at resorting to stays of enforcement, stays may be needed to handle the transition from 300 ppm to 100 ppm in an orderly manner.

The full report is available in PDF format on the US Consumer Product Safety Commission website.

About the author:

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to

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