Please read and distribute as necessary. This information is being pulled off the CPSIAReform website and everyone should go and be informed. Although this does not directly effect me right now, it may in the near future. If you like purchasing goods for your children from WAHM’s than this affects you greatly. You will soon see alot of your favorite business being shut down. Please visit this website, contact your local congressman and sign the petitions to reform this law.
The CPSIA legislation was an important contribution in efforts to strengthen product safety laws to make sure only safe and compliant products are sold to our nation’s children. While well-intentioned, this legislation contains several provisions that impose new and burdensome requirements that increase costs at a time of economic upheaval but do not offer any improvement in the safety of children’s products, including toys, clothing, and footwear. If left unchanged, such requirements, especially considering this dire economic environment, will have a disastrous impact on many companies.
I am writing on behalf of my self & other small manufacturers of children’s apparel & textile products throughout the United States to express our concerns regarding the lead & lead in paint standards as mandated by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA).
We want to first emphasize that many of us are parents ourselves & care as much about the safety of our children as anyone. We welcome measures that will help to ensure greater child safety with regard to lead. I can assure you that these comments share the support of many others who, like me, want to continue providing necessary & safe products to American consumers. However, such measures are only effective if they target the real risks.
The August 14, 2008 legislation included a new ban on lead in children’s products (no more than 600 parts per million (ppm) by weight of any part of the product). According to the CPSIA, the new lead requirements take effect beginning February 10, 2009. However, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has determined that this new requirement will apply to goods in inventory, as well as goods made on or after that effective date. This ruling effectively makes this new lead requirement retroactive. This means that product that produced several months ago, & which is safe & legally compliant today, will not be able to be sold on February 10. This seems unfair, as it means we are being held responsible for a standard that didn’t even exist when those goods were made. Moreover, it will be extremely difficult – & in some cases impossible – to retroactively certify that individual goods already in the warehouses & on the store shelves meet the new lead standard. In short, the ruling puts at risk millions of dollars of inventory.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has so far failed to provide significant guidance or issue regulations on how the new lead rules should apply to children’s products, even those that are inherently lead free. While the CPSC recently released four proposed rulemakings addressing testing exemptions for products & materials that are lead free, these rulemakings do not go nearly far enough. As February 10 quickly approaches, guidance has thus far been provided in a piecemeal approach while the CPSC wades through a backlog of information requests & juggles multiple new rule makings with limited resources. Because of the incomplete guidance, companies are being forced to undertake duplicative testing of components or to test elements of children’s products that are either inaccessible or that are inherently lead free. While testing forms an important validation, these conflicting & burdensome requirements – especially for products & components that are inherently lead free – do not advance children’s safety. In fact, the current system, if left unfixed, undermines our public safety system by shifting focus away from risky products.
What happens to us will affect the U.S. Economy
Based on 2002 U.S. Census data, which is the most current available for the apparel manufacturing industry, the Cut & Sew Apparel Manufacturing industry, which includes most categories of small manufacturers of infant’s & children’s apparel, is comprised of more than 40,000 companies. Of these, almost 28,000, or 68%, are sole proprietors contributing a total of $900 million to our nation’s economy. Thus, while our businesses are small, they comprise well more than the majority of the apparel manufacturing businesses currently operating in this country.
By exempting this rulemaking from the requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act & the Regulatory Flexibility Act, which would require the CPSC to prepare & make available for public comment an initial regulatory flexibility analysis that describes the impact of the lead content testing rule on small apparel manufacturing businesses, Congress has circumvented the public discourse necessary to truly ascertain the CPSIA’s impact on small business. As written, the CPSIA ignores the wide variety of small business models that comprise the children’s apparel manufacturing industry & the fact that the majority are indeed small businesses.
Lead in children’s apparel & other textile products pose little risk
There is very little research to support the notion that lead in textiles presents a significant risk to children. On the contrary, Mr. Hardy Poole’s presentation to the May 13, 2008 Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) roundtable, he makes the argument that the lead content in textiles is actually very low. Mr. Poole, president of the National Textile Association, is considered a leading expert in the textile industry with than 30 years of experience including working with the CPSC on fabric flammability standards. Mr. Poole cited dyes, dyestuffs & pigments used in coloring fabrics as the primary source of lead in textiles & pointed out that the dyes produced by the major suppliers to the U.S. textile industry are already required to comply with the standards for trace metal impurities.
Without prudent regulation & clear guidance from the CPSC, the CPSIA will result in unintended & devastating consequences to manufacturers of children’s products that pose little to no risk of lead exposure to children.
The costs of unnecessary testing & its impact on our businesses:
Requiring expensive tests on inherently lead-free products to verify that they, in fact, don’t contain lead will only add financial burdens to small manufacturers & ultimately consumers – most of whom are already suffering from the current economic climate – while providing no improvement in consumer or product safety.
We recognize that some types of children’s apparel contain components that may contain lead. However, metal, painted plastic, & vinyl components in children’s apparel (painted &/or metal buttons, snaps, zippers, decals, etc.) are adequately regulated under the requirements for third party testing for lead in paint.
The CPSC has the authority to exclude components & classes of products from the lead ban. Accordingly, we urge the CPSC to issue guidance that makes clear that textiles & apparel are only subject to the lead & lead in paint requirements to the extent that a component presents a risk that it contains lead.
We are also concerned about the apparent requirement to test the component – both as a stand-alone component & also as an element of the entire garment. This redundancy greatly multiplies the cost associated with testing.
For example, the cost of digestive testing for lead is in the range of $130 to $180 per test. A garment with two metal component parts, such as a zipper & snaps, would have to test each component separately at a cost of $360. Previously, a small manufacturer might have been spread these costs out over several styles by incorporating the same zippers & snaps into several styles. If a manufacturer produces 10 styles the new regulations require testing of each component part after it is removed from a sample garment, one in each style, increasing the costs to $3,600.
These costs multiply exponentially if companies are now required to test fabrics & threads for lead, or if different dyes also trigger their own lead tests. Going back to the previous example, if each style contains six components – body fabric, lining, knit cuff, thread, snap, & zipper, as well as 5 possible dye options – the number of tests increases to more than 300, or $108,000 to for just 10 styles in addition to the actual costs of production. Any small manufacturer that survives these costs – & there aren’t many of us that can – will necessarily have to pass them on to our customers. So, consumers end up on the losing end, too.
Many of us operate on extremely small margins. We cannot sell the merchandise we currently have in stock that we made prior to the standards ever having been approved, nor can we afford the testing required for each & every component of a finished product on top of the cost for testing the finished product – the vast majority of which are inherently lead-free or only present trace levels of lead, well below unsafe or regulatory limits. Requiring us to dispose of all our inventory & imposing huge testing costs on producing new inventory to replace it will force many of us to shut down our operations for good.
We urge the CPSC to issue guidance that makes clear that textiles & apparel are only subject to the lead & lead in paint requirements to the extent that a component presents a risk that it contains lead.
I respectfully request your help ensuring that the CPSC institute rulemaking to clearly define the scope and applicability of the new lead regulations and testing requirements for apparel and footwear products. I also urge that CPSC announce and implement an orderly enforcement schedule that focuses initial phases on education of these new requirements. Finally, I believe the decision by the CPSC to apply the lead ban retroactively needs to be reconsidered as soon as possible since the practical impact of this decision, in today’s economic environment, will have an adverse effect at a time the government is spending billions to stimulate the economy.