Mandatory toy testing is problematic
Posted Feb. 20, 20009
Pig With Sombrero

Children’s toys and clothing should be tested for safety. Selling toys made with products that contain harmful levels of things like lead is not good and products should be tested to ensure that children are safe. But how that testing is done has become an issue as of early February.

After all of the toy recalls in 2007, Congress passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 and it went into effect Feb. 10.

The confusing Act requires companies that manufacture certain products for children must put their goods through testing for lead. The goods tested are now required to test lower than 600 parts per million for lead. There is also a requirement that the goods contain a permanent label that indicates where, when and who made the product.

This may be feasible for the larger manufacturers, but for smaller companies that produce a small number of products, the testing required and the labeling that is required is not as easy.

Members of the Handmade Toy Alliance, an alliance of toy stores, toymakers and children’s product manufacturers in the United States, are worried.

Jill Chuckas, owner and designer of Crafty Baby, produces children’s products that are made in small quantities and if she is required to have all of her products tested, she said she will go out of business.

Though the supplies Chuckas said she uses to make her products are in compliance with the law, she will have to pay to prove it.

Right now she does not have to pay for all of the testing because of a stay of enforcement, but only if her state’s Attorney General decides not to enforce the Act.

On August 14, another part of the act goes into effect she said she faces losing her business. Chuckas will have to pay for third party lead testing, which is even more expensive than the testing required now. The new requirement for the amount of lead will be 300 parts per million.

Chuckas said that one of her products, the clutch ball, a cloth ball that babies play with and teethe on, would cost more to test than she would make in profit.

She makes her clutch balls in batches of 10 and for each batch, one would have to be tested. And when the testing is done, that product will be destroyed.

Chuckas estimates that the testing, will cost close to $1,500, which will be more than the profit she will make from selling a batch of her clutch balls.

Each clutch ball sells for less than $20.

Not only is the testing expensive, but difficult to have done.

Chuckas said there are only about 15 accredited labs that can conduct the testing in the United States. Chuckas is just one example of the people negatively affected by this new act.

Instead of requiring small businesses that manufacture and often times hand craft specialty toys in the United States to go through such ridiculous testing, the supplies they buy to make their toys and other goods should be tested and approved before they buy them. And small manufacturers like Carafty Baby should not be lumped in with companies like Mattel.

Why should manufacturers like Chuckas be required to follow the same rigorous testing requirements as large companies who use products that have already been proven to contain things like lead in the past? They should not.

It does not make sense. If small companies in the United States who make specialty items for children are required to meet certain standards, there needs to be more cost effective ways for them to prove they are meeting those standards.

The manufacturers are not the only ones who will suffer. Dan Marshall and his wife are owners of Peapods Natural Toys & Baby Care in Minnesota.They sell toys made by small businesses and they too are concerned.

If nobody can make such specialty items, there will be nothing left to sell.

This new act may sound good and it may help prevent toys with lead from reaching children, but it should apply to the larger companies and there should be something separate that applies to the smaller businesses.

It will destroy many entrepreneurs’ ways of life.

There will also be fewer options for parents who do not want to buy toys strictly mass-produced and just imported from another country like China.

This new act is just a confusing and bad idea.

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