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The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act and the Needlearts 

It's a far cry from the situation in Europe.

Staff Report (May 4, 2009)

The following is a report sent by the CPSIA committee of The National NeedleArts Assn. to TNNA members:

To All Members:

On August 8, 2008, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) was signed into law by former President Bush. The scope of this new legislation, also called HR 4040, is daunting. Under the new regulations, most craft products could be defined as children’s products by Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). This will have a huge impact on manufacturers, importers, distributors and retailers in the craft industry. Although we all want to protect our children from unsafe products, this law is like cleaning up a mosquito-infested pond with an atomic bomb.

Under this law, as of February 10, 2009, retailers cannot sell their existing inventory of children’s products that do not meet CPSIA’s new strict testing standards! This means a potential loss of sales for you and millions of dollars of unsalable inventory in stores and distributing companies.

What does this means for you? Besides the loss of potential sales and inventory value, the enforcement and penalties for non-compliance can be $100,000 per violation – up to $15 million for multiple violations – and imprisonment up to 5 years. CPSIA is being viewed as a major challenge in our industry, since our products (yarns, threads, accessories and anything with a finish) have the potential to be used for handmade children’s wear, quilts, pillows, toys, etc.

As of February 10, 2009, CPSIA makes it illegal to manufacture, distribute, import or sell any children’s products (hand-knitting yarns, accessories, needlepoint and cross-stitch threads, beads and embellishments are included in this) containing more than 600 PPM lead in the substrate of any component part of the product (including dyes), regardless of its production date. As of August 14, 2009, the limit on lead content in substrates will decrease to no more than 300 PPM (and will further decrease to 100 PPM by the year 2011 if the CPSC deems that level technologically feasible).

Going forward, the law will require that an independent laboratory test the entire existing and new inventory of yarns, threads and accessories (each dye lot) for lead levels. As of this moment, existing facilities are running about 60 days behind. If each dye lot has to be tested, the first day the law goes into effect these labs will be years behind, making it impossible for us to comply with this law.

All of us need to immediately contact our U.S. Representatives and U.S. Senators in Washington, D.C. to let them know how this will affect our businesses. Hand-knitting yarns, stitching threads and embellishments must be excluded from the scope of this law. TNNA must join forces with other craft and hobby associations to act together and explain to lawmakers how devastating this could be to our industry.

We have formulated bullet points so that you can compose a letter stressing the pertinent facts surrounding this poorly written law and its unintended consequences that will affect the fabric of American small business in this economic climate. We have also provided links (see below) to make it easier to contact your elected officials.

Please take the time to send a letter to your local lawmakers. Because of a similar campaign through CHA and other craft industry trade associations, the CPSC agreed to extend the deadline for compliance through February, 2010. Our hope is that because of your participation, the CPSC will agree that our products fall outside the scope of this regulatory legislation.

We have only nine months to stop this from becoming law and killing our businesses. We must take action NOW!

Be sure you identify yourself as a constituent of the congressperson to whom you are writing. Use e-mail.US mail is considered dangerous in Congress because of attention-seeking people sending white powder in envelopes. The U.S. Senate receives many e-mails from many different people for different issues every day. Please personalize your letter when sending it to your Senator and Representatives – do not rely on form letters to get their attention.

Links to your U.S. Representatives and U.S. Senators: www.usa.gov/contact/elected.shtml; http://www.senate.gov; ... www.house.gov.

Bullet points to include in you correspondence:

1. Ask for their assistance in petitioning the Consumer Product Safety Commission to exempt our products from compliance with the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) HR 4040.

2. The testing agencies currently take 60 days to test a product. If each dye lot of all threads, beads, embellishments and yarns has to be tested, not enough testing facilities exist to make it possible to comply with this law.

3. If the dyes are in compliance with the requirements, there is no reason to test the finished product over and over again. The added costs would have a huge negative impact on their commercial viability.

4. Exposing small retailers to this level of liability threatens the extinction of small business.

5. This law is poorly written and too broad to comply with as it stands.

We urge you again to send a letter to your representatives as soon as possible. Our voices must be heard in this matter. We can make a difference in the outcome of this situation.


CPSIA Committee

Sharon Garmize, Sharon G Needlepoint; Jim Bryson, Bryson Distributing; and Hal Ozbelli, Universal Yarn

Product Safety in Europe

(Note: The following is written by Andrew Morgan, Director of Global Manufacturing and Technology for Coats & Clark.)

The European Union has long had in place a legislative structure designed to ensure that consumer products are safe. The umbrella legislation is the General Product Safety Directive (GPSD), of which the most recent version came into force in 2005, replacing the earlier 1994 version. This covers all consumer products (new and second hand) and puts a legal requirement on the producer and distributor to ensure that the products are safe in normal use and to inform consumers of potential hazards.

In addition to this there are product specific regulations where greater detail on safety is required. Toys are covered by a specific regulation (EN71) which includes a limit of 90ppm for migration of lead. Clothing and crafts products are covered by the GPSD which does not have a specific lead content limit, even when the products are designed for use by children. This might appear to be lax but in practice the correct interpretation of the GPSD for a general article that is intended for use by children would entail ensuring that it does meet the EN71 limits even though it is not a toy.

The legislation does not mandate any product testing requirement but puts the responsibility on the producer and distributor to make sure that products supplied are sufficiently tested to ensure compliance. The local authorities have powers to check products in the market, enter premises and seize documents, order product recalls if necessary, and prosecute offenders (potential penalties include fines and jail terms).

Overall I think that it is fair to say that there has been relatively tight control over product safety in Europe for many years and that producers and distributors are used to working with these controls, whereas the introduction of CPSIA, and the way in which the legislation has been drafted and implemented, have put a lot of pressure on suppliers to U.S. consumers in a very tight timescale.

Australia has tended to follow EU legislation and recently confirmed a 90ppm limit for lead in children's toys.

(Editor's Note: The Chinese toy situation continues, however. The European Union recently released a report that the EU's rapid alert system for non-food products, RAPEX, said 1,866 unsafe products were reported in 2008, a 16% increase on the previous year. Products from China accounted for 59% of the goods reported, up from 52% in 2007 and 49% in 2006. Toys made up almost a third of the dangerous products recalled worldwide, CNN Money reported.)



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