Thursday, December 11, 2008


Time for my annual post about testing lead in toys. In two months, a new law takes effect in the US that requires manufacturers and importers to test toys (at significant expense) for lead and phthalates. As implemented by the CPSC, there are no exceptions for toys imported from European countries with much stricter safety laws than ours. There appear to be no exceptions for toys made entirely of safe materials such as cloth or wood, or using materials such as paints that are already tested by manufacturers. No exceptions for handmade toys sold at craft fairs. But we will still allow toys that are made, tested, and certified in China, which can’t be trusted to keep melamine out of our food chain.

There is an exception for toys that aren’t primarily for children, so the teaching aids I produce don’t have to be taken off the market. But I want to be able to buy the handmade wooden rattle, or the all-organic-fabrics stuffed animal, or the unpainted wooden train like the one I grew up with. I want to be able to buy German and English toys without traveling to Europe myself and sneaking them into the country as if they’re unpasteurized cheese. I want to be able to shop at the funky independent toy stores that sell American handmade and European toys. I’ll be glad if the CPSC can improve the safety of children’s products, but I’d like to see their focus start on where the problems have been: paints and plastics.

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