Wednesday, January 07, 2009

My First Letter to Congress: A Request for Changes to the Consumer Product Improvement Act (CPSIA)

My brother who spent his summer as a congressional intern informs me that there are quite a few people who write in regularly to their appointed representatives and senators. I am not one of those people. However, it recently came to my attention that there is recent legislation regarding three things near and dear to my heart (children, handmade items, and thrift/vintage shopping) that is a bit heavy-handed. Here is my inaugural letter to Congress (may I be more politically active in the future!):
Please support changes to this law to allow exemption of lead testing for:
* The sale of children's items which were handmade in the US
* The sale of secondhand children's goods

As a parent, it is important to me to have the choice to be able to support small industries and purchase unique items. It is also important for me to be able to buy used items. Children's items are expensive at retail prices, and the new testing requirements will only make this more true.

Although I was appalled at the presence of lead in toys from large-volume retailers, please allow me the discretion of what products I will trust in my home. Such large corporations who outsource manufacturing to China should have done in-house testing. Since they didn't, I would support a government mandate that these corporations be required to have third-party testing. However, I fear this new law will kill the entrepreneurial American spirit in the children's sector and create a monopoly of the market of a few well-established companies. As a parent, I have enjoyed the benefits of many innovative and useful products produced by small companies, and this law as written will seriously hinder the development of such products in the future.

Also, once this law takes effect, many companies I patronize will be forced to declare bankruptcy and go out of business. The closure of numerous small-scale manufacturers and secondhand retailers at the same time will surely be a difficult blow to an already-crippled economy.

I believe that the exemption from testing for the sectors mentioned above (secondhand retailers and small-scale US-based operations) is the best solution to remedy this situation. If this is not possible, some inferior remedies that would still be helpful would be:

* allow for products to be labeled and sold as "not tested lead-free" in lieu of expensive third-party testing
* require testing of raw materials (i.e. paints, textiles, woods) rather than end-user products

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Note: I did actually submit this letter through the proper channels rather than just posting it on my backwoods blog. If you would like further information about this law, visit and

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