On February 10, 2009, many of your favorite brands and items may be off the shelves at your locals stores. The new Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) is a law that requires third-party lead and phthalate (used in some plastics) testing. This means that every business from the large companies to the work-at-home Mom’s must send their products to a laboratory that has been certified by the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) to be tested for these materials. And the testing is INCREDIBLY EXPENSIVE! Here’s why….the law says that you must test each component of a product. Lead tests range from $20 to $100 and phthalate tests range from $200 to $400 depending on the laboratory. This does not including the cost of shipping your samples and the cost of the samples themselves. What Congress did not consider is that there are ways to ensure safety without requiring third-party testing!!!
Since I am the owner of Giverny, Inc. / Mini Me Geology I’m going to give you my take on this ludicrous law from the perspective of how it will affect me and our customers. The GivernyOnline.com site carries mostly items for home decor and jewelry that are aimed at adults. These items do not fall under CPSIA as it only requires testing for items for children 12 and under. The children’s items that we do carry are from our Mini Me Geology line which are also carried on that website. So, I will focus on Mini Me Geology.
We currently offer four large rock and mineral kits, rock and minerals kits for schools, a rock kit fabric storage bag, a create-a-kit for people who want to design their own kits, individual rock and mineral samples and we are getting ready to launch a new line of smaller kits. Our two most popular items are the My Rockin’ Collection Minerals kit and our Create-a-Kit. The mineral kit contains: a polypropylene plastic box with dividers, stickers in the bottom, green foam, an acrylic hand magnifier, a white porcelain streak plate, a black porcelain streak plate, 15 mineral samples, 16 printed identification cards held together with a plastic screwpost, and two labels on the outside of the box. In total, that is 25 components (assuming that the cards equal one component, and the dividers are considered part of the box since they are made by the same manufacturer). The cost to test this one product could range from $5,500 to $12,500! And, that is assuming that my inks don’t have to be separately tested.
I am NOT AGAINST ensuring product safety for our kids. But this type of testing will put many good businesses out of business in just a few weeks. I have two kids myself and want safe toys. But I have also worked in the environmental consulting industry for over 15 years and I know that this type of testing is stupid.
There is a possibility that natural materials such as gemstones / minerals may be exempt as long as they are not lead-based or don’t naturally occur with lead-based minerals. Okay, first of all, I do sell a mineral called galena which is lead-based. We state it clearly on the website. It is not in our minerals kit though since we do market to elementary aged kids. However, we also sell to adults, collectors and colleges. Banning substances with lead is not the answer. Responsible warnings are. How am I to offer galena to adults but not to children on our site?
As for the banning of minerals that naturally occur with lead-based minerals, that is just ridiculous as well. Just because a mineral grows near galena it does not mean that it is loaded with lead! The lead is in the crystal structure of the mineral (not a coating on top). If lead were a trace element in a nearby mineral it would be only that…a trace. If it weren’t, it would change the mineral to something else that is known to be lead-bearing.
You may be wondering if I’m just ranting or if I have a solution. Well, I do have several solutions.
Solution 1: All companies should be allowed to obtain manufacturers information on the actual materials used in making the items that they use in the products rather than requiring a laboratory test. For example, our plastic box manufacturer says that they make the boxes from polypropylene which is a non-toxic plastic. If that manufacturer is willing to provide a letter to that effect as well as all MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets) and material information that they have this data should be adequate for CPSC. For natural materials such as minerals, rocks and cotton a statement from the supplier as to the location and setting of the growing field or mine should be sufficient to ensure that adverse environmental setting are not present.
Solution 2: If Congress is dead-set on third party testing, manufacturers should be allowed to do a “total product” test. A mineral kit, like ours, could be chopped apart and digested (this is when a solvent or other substance is used to extract the sample into a liquid for testing) together so that the material analyzed is representative of the entire product. This could reduce the cost per product to one lead test and one phthalate test. If the results are high, then you can test individual components.
Thank you for reading my long post. PLEASE call your congressmen and senators and tell then that changes must be made to this law before February 10th or your favorite products may not be available or if they are, they will be much more expensive.
Owner, Giverny, Inc. / Mini Me Geology