Friday, January 30, 2009

Sky is not yet falling on children's books

Perhaps you are aware of the controversy surrounding the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) as it relates to the manufacture of children’s books. The law, due to go into effect February 10, would have required that every book (or anything else, but the panic in publishing circles was about books) be accompanied by a certificate showing that the particular title had been tested for lead levels and phthalate levels.

Nobody was arguing there should not be limits on lead and phthalates in products intended for children under twelve; the industry concern was over the delay and cost involved in obtaining certification from a third-party laboratory for every new book produced, considering that lead-based pigments have not been used in book printing for a long time and it is easy enough for a book manufacturer to avoid plastic coatings containing phthalates.

Today the Consumer Product Safety Commission announced the certification and testing requirements are being suspended for a year, pending review of the regulations implementing the act. That gives the publishing industry a much-needed reprieve from this onerous requirement and allows time to work with the CPSC staff to craft more reasonable rules.

One possibility is to have the companies that specialize in manufacturing children’s books (a limited number of plants, mostly in Asia) inspected and certified annually, with the certificate number printed on the copyright page of any book they manufacture.

Meanwhile, the chemical limits remain in place, and children are protected. All that is lifted is the requirement for independent testing and certification on a product-by-product basis.

Thanks to eagle-eyed Beagle Bay Books president, J.C. Simonds, for the link and the tip.

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