Everyone remembers the flood of lead based paint recalls that shook consumer confidence last year. Many blamed a lack of federal oversight for the seemingly daily doses of parental terror caused by the series of toy callbacks.
The government responded with a new federal regulation that took effect the week of Dec. 22, according to an article in the Los Angeles Times by Alana Semuels titled “For some toy makers, rules to protect kids may be toxic.” The regulation requires manufacturers to use a third-party to test for lead and other dangerous chemicals anywhere in products made for children 12 and under.
The L.A. Times reporter interviews the owner of a small toy manufacturer that builds many of its 175 products with wood. The owner says in the article that testing each of its products with an outside company (which is required by the new law) will cost about $2,000 per product. Due to the relatively small profit margins, the cost of the tests would just about cancel out the company’s profits.
The regulations, which fall under the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, are gradually being phased into effect (Click here to learn more details about the act.) Manufacturers have to test now for lead paint, and then must test for lead or harmful chemicals anywhere on the product by Feb. 10.
From looking at a document detailing the act, it calls for the testing regulations to apply to any "consumer" product meant for children under the age of 12. It seems that this definition would include furniture designed for kids. Does your company have any products that fall under these regulations? If so, how are you dealing with the cost associated with testing?
In the article, small manufacturers argue that recalls were caused by foreign manufacturers that sold products to big box stores, and producers who use natural materials (i.e. wood) and natural finishing techniques should be spared from the expense of independent testing. Do you agree with the manufacturers, or do you think this response from the government is justified? Would you support more regulation on other products, such as furniture for adults or cabinetry?
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