A Consumer Product Safety Commission regulation intended to safeguard children against dangerous toxins is hurting business at small toy stores and thrift shops across the country. The regulation requires that retailers test and label children's products to prove they are not hazardous.
According to a statement released by the CPSC, "A children's product is one designed or intended primarily for children 12 years of age or younger. Toys, clothes, furniture, books, jewelry, blankets, games, CDs/DVDs, strollers, and footwear may all be considered children's products."
The new regulation, effective as of Feb. 10, outlaws those children's items that contain more than 600 parts-per-million of lead. The CPSC drafted the regulations in response to uproar over Chinese-made toys products that contained lead in 2007.
While their bigger corporate competitors have less difficulty adhering to the standards, smaller stores – especially resellers or thrift shops – are finding it costly to comply. But while testing for lead can be expensive, the fines for violating the standards are hefty too.
"I am all for reducing lead content and making sure the items that reach our children are safe," says Jennifer Guenther, co-owner of Enkore Kids in Boonsboro, Maryland. "But basically they're saying 'toss the stuff unless you can afford to test it."
Her store sells used children's clothes and toys, so paying for the testing of inexpensive inventory with high turnover rates would break her business. Under the new regulations, any clothing with decorative rhinestones, zippers, or buttons would have to be tested or pulled off the shelves.
"We can't afford to test it, and we are not in a position to close our business," she says. Guenther is among others petitioning for an amendment to loosen restrictions.