In 2008 congress responded to the panic over Chinese toys made with lead paint by passing the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). As congress pats itself on a job well done, small business owners are preparing for disaster.

The law, loaded with strict penalties for those who choose to ignore it, goes into effect in stages. The first milestone is February 10th, when it becomes illegal to ship goods that have not been tested for lead. It was recently announced that officials have allowed a 12 month extension for toy makers to comply with the new standards. However, many retail chains such as Wal-Mart have already demanded their suppliers adhere to the new standards. So, the delay does not help many toy makers. 

This law covers not only toys but any product meant for children 12 and under. This includes a mind blowing array of products, including books.  The American Library Association’s own Associate Executive director has been quoted as saying there are basically two options for libraries, “Either they take all the children’s books off the shelves or they ban children from the library.”

The law will be but a minor itch to the big corporations such as Mattel and Fisher-Price. They can afford to adhere to the strict testing procedures. It is the small businesses that are going to suffer and it has already begun as many places have begun to close up shop because they simply cannot afford to adhere to the stringent and expensive testing guidelines.

Homeschoolers are not immune to the effects of this law. If you rely on used books and curriculum you will suddenly find that used books are no longer available. Many small businesses that sell homeschool supplies are already closing down. Hands and Hearts is a homeschool business that sells history kits. Their kits have been discontinued because there is no way they can reasonably comply with the law. The future of the rest of their business remains to be seen.

Protesting has gradually increased as the reality of what this law will do becomes clearer. Now many business owners are in limbo as they wait to see exactly how this law will affect them and if there will be any type of reprieve as congress irons out the wrinkles in this policy.

I admit that when I first heard this news I didn’t believe it. It seemed to Orwellian. I guess I’m naïve but I just didn’t expect that congress would pass something that would have such far reaching consequences. Today I was at the store. While looking at the toys I saw an entire section that had labels saying “certified non-toxic”. So, it has begun.

I’d like to know how the readers feel about this topic. Did congress do the right thing? Have you, or someone you know been personally affected by this law?

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