Sunday, January 18, 2009

Endangered Toys: Relevant Consumer Protection

New regulations take effect in February that will significantly effect all children's products sold in the U.S. Responding to consumer concern and pressure, Congress passed legislation last year that would regulate the amount of lead and pthalates allowable in children's products. Sounds good, right? Unfortunately the regulations have some provisions that have the unintended consequences of putting small toy producers, and resellers in jeopardy, if not out of business all together. The testing required to establish the safety of the products is extensive and costly, and may not be tenable for small businesses. Additionally those who are found to be in violation, or reselling products that present a hazard, will be faced with stiff fines. 

Outcry from the parties affected are mounting asking for revisions to the legislation, or else they say they will face going out of business. The precise effects remain unclear. Unrevised, certainly the regulations will most probably drive many small and craft businesses out of the market, who are unable to bear the cost of necessary testing (although the CPSC says it will exempt natural materials products). The effects on the resale industry are a little less clear.  The Consumer Product Safety Commission's own press release states that:

"The new safety law does not require resellers to test children’s products in inventory for compliance with the lead limit before they are sold. However, resellers cannot sell children’s products that exceed the lead limit and therefore should avoid products that are likely to have lead content, unless they have testing or other information to indicate the products being sold have less than the new limit. Those resellers that do sell products in violation of the new limits could face civil and/or criminal penalties."

Resellers fear the possibility of unknowingly selling such products because they say they lack the resources to authoritatively confirm a product, such as one of kind, or older products. It is already illegal to sell recalled products as of last August, so it is unclear how the additional restrictions will alter the procedures that such resellers should already be employing to comply with the recall provisions. But many will say it will most probably restrict the selection, and send many more products to the trash heap, perhaps unnecessarily.

And what about all those collectors that have been hanging onto toys from eons ago in their original packaging? Do these become toxic contraband? Are we looking at a toy black market? I'll meet you in the back alleyway to exchange those vintage Hot Wheels.

Photo credit Eliseo Oliveras 


growingupartists said...

Waiting patiently for your Obama Inaugeral coverage. You raise the bar girl, with all those excellent links. Now get us some video, newscaster!

Kirsten Edmondson Branch aka "Aphra" said...

Thanks for the feedback...I'm on it!

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