Take Action: Exempt Books from the CPSIA!
Exempt Books from the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act!
The ALA American Library Association writes: As you may know, Congress passed legislation titled “The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008” last August. This legislation seeks to decrease the levels of lead and phthalates in products intended for children 12 years of age or younger and will be enforced by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). This legislation was misinterpreted by the CPSC to include books.
Thankfully, U.S. Representative Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) recently introduced legislation to amend the CPSIA to exempt ordinary books from the lead limits within the bill. This legislation specifically exempts books and would ensure that children continue to have access to safe, educational and entertaining reading materials. Mr. Fortenberry cannot do this alone, and he needs our help to ensure that his colleagues understand books are indeed a safe product, but our children’s access to them is threatened because of the CPSC’s current interpretation.
In order to gain the attention this legislation deserves, please call or write your Representatives and ask them to cosponsor H.R. 1692.
Time is of the essence; we have less than 11 months before the new implementation date arrives, and it is critical that we convince as many Members as possible to sign onto this legislation. Without our advocacy, this legislation will not move forward!
Currently, books are considered an unregulated product. This means they are generally considered safe and are not subject to the same rules and regulations as toys and other objects on the U.S. market. Under the new interpretation of the CPSIA, books would be subject to the same testing standards as children’s toys and clothing.
Very few recalls have actually involved books; in fact, the recalls surrounding books have not happened because of the books themselves but rather the toys that were attached to the books that were considered potential choking hazards. In spite of this information, the standard hardcover and paperback books would be subject to the same testing standards as children’s toys under the new legislation.
As a result, publishers have tested the components of books and found that the levels of lead in children’s books were far below the future legal requirements at the full implementation of the regulations three years from now. However, the advisory opinion from the CPSC says that not only must the testing be done by one of their certified labs but that this legislation also is retroactive, and every book currently in use must be tested. This situation will become even more complicated because the CPSC has not certified any labs to administer the lead testing.
At this point, the CPSC has issued a one-year stay in implementation – meaning, the legislation will not be implemented until February 10, 2010. However, the CPSC has indicated that they will not permanently exclude books without some sort of clear Congressional action.
Talking points on H.R. 1692:
- Though the CPSC has interpreted the act to include ordinary books, Congress did not intend for them to be included.
- This legislation would exempt ordinary books only – books that are published on paper of cardboard, printed by conventional publishing methods, intended to be read, and lacking inherent play value.
- Testing has shown that finished books and their component materials contain total lead content at levels considered non-detectable
- The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has determined that there is little risk to children from lead in ordinary books.
- Libraries are grateful for this bill since it is proven that reading books is critical to child development, and libraries would like to continue to provide this service without the threat of regulation that would unnecessary and expensive testing.