Lavender Blue, Dilly Dilly, Lavender Green. CPSIA is silly. Know What I Mean?

The CPSIA’s banning of the books hits the mainstream in a fairly decent AP article on MSNBC’s, although they miss the point that it’s the law that is at fault, and blame the CPSC’s ‘interpretation’ instead. They point out that the Center for Disease Control says on a scale of 1-10, risks to children’s health from books rates a .05, and they quote an ALA lawyer saying libraries do not sell books so the law shouldn’t apply to them- they never point out that the law applies to everything intended for the use of children 12 and under.

You could help get the word out by clicking through to read the link, commenting on the story at their site, passing it on to your friends to read so the story stays up there in ratings.

The Printing Industries of America issued this ‘update’ on the CPSIA and how it concerns the printing industry. Most of it we’ve read before in one form or another, but it’s always good to see our ‘laymen’s understanding of the law and the stay backed up by legal eagles:

  • The stay does not postpone or relieve printers from the CPSIA’s advertising and labeling requirements. Please refer to Printing Industries of America’s FAQ for more information.
  • The stay does not apply to testing and certification for coils or other components of children’s books that may be subject to the lead-in-paint and other surface coatings requirements.
  • The stay does not guarantee that state agencies will not enforce the CPSIA’s testing and certification requirements…

However, they, too, have been beguiled by Congress:

On Capitol Hill, the Government Affairs team is advocating that Congress also urge the CPSC to fully consider industry data in issuing exemptions to the CPSIA. Absent of such permanent administrative relief as outlined under the CPSIA, legislative solutions may be considered. To date, Congressional majority leaders have stated they are not open to holding hearings nor opening the CPSIA for reconsideration, instead urging industry to pursue the exemption channels provided for in the CPSIA passed last year.

I would so dearly love for somebody to explain what and where those ‘exemption channels’ are in the law. Incidentally, other products mentioned here or in the linked FAQ that you might not have thought about- flashcards, children’s magazines, and more.

Here’s an entire catalog of items that will be adversely affected.

The CPSC doesn’t want necessarily want to ban the books, ball-point pens, zippers, mini-bikes, home-made items, and many other products this law affects (at least, Nord doesn’t. Not too sure about Moore), but their hands are tied by the rigid wording of the law. They cannot make exemptions based on common sense or risk assessment. It doesn’t matter that no child has EVER gotten elevated blood levels from a book or his mini-bike- Congress and the special interest groups that pushed the law through (PIRG, Public Citizen, NRDC, etc) saw to it that the law was too tightly worded to give the CPSC any wiggle room.

The CPSC cannot legally exempt any product unless the business seeking that exemption can show “on the basis of the best-available, objective, peer-reviewed, scientific evidence” that a “specific product or material” would not lead to ANY absorption of lead in the human body or to any adverse impact on health and safety.- that’s quite a huge and sweeping requirement- and it calls for the makers of hand-made items to invest more money than they make in research for the purpose of proving a negative- something most people understand is fairly impossible to do.

It would have been a far, far better thing if, instead of this over-reaching law, Congress had required that best-available, objective, peer-reviewed, scientific evidence that a specific product or material would lead to lead absorption by human beings or any adverse impact on health or safety before subjecting that material and product to these draconian regulations.

And those of us who have been following this dreadful law, know that Congressman Waxman has personally instructed the CPSC NOT to exempt books with ANY metal parts– and most books have staples, which are metal. And when the Commission tried to follow the example of most European companies on the ban (and Congress and the special interest groups that pushed the law claim European laws on lead and phthalates as a shining example)- Congress rebuked them, Public Citizen and NRDC sued them, and the CPSC (and all of us) lost. You see, in Europe, the phthalates ban was NOT retroactively applied to products in inventory. But here, Congress required that it was- which is why the CPSC has no option but to apply the law to books in libraries and at used bookstores. Neither do the European countries treat products belonging to 12 year olds as though they run the same risk of being chewed as products for 2 year olds.

Although the AP reported in that earlier story that the CPSC was urging libraries to somehow separate children and pre-1985 books, this article quotes a CPSC spokesperson saying that was a mistake:

A CPSC spokesman told The Associated Press in a recent interview that until more testing is done, the nation’s more than 116,000 public and school libraries should take steps to ensure that children are kept away from books printed before 1985.

After the spokesman’s comments appeared Tuesday in an AP story, CPSC chief Joe Martyak said the spokesman “misspoke.”

“We’re not urging libraries to take them off the shelves,” Martyak said. “It’s true the CPSC is investigating whether the ink contains unsafe levels of lead in children’s books printed before 1985.”

Walter Olson at Overlawyered, always a must read, has more on those two contradictory accounts as well as on the groups who signed on in support of the CPSIA- might they now be rethinking? They should be.

Jim Harper at Washinton Watch is asking for more information on why people object to the CPSIA as written- please click through, vote, and leave a comment, perhaps with a link to a page you think explains the problems with the bill if you don’t wish to write extemporaneously.

Rick Woldenberg has updates on the plans to try to bring these and other problems with the bill to Congress’ attention at the rally on the first of April. He also has a fun caption contest at this post.

Esther at The Book Loft has another book
that we could lose thanks to Congress’s poorly thought out law- a Leo Leonni picture book.

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester and Rep. Denny Rehberg are each proposing legislation to undo a ban on sales of mini-bikes and parts for them. Their exemption would also apply to second hand stores.

The Sassy Monkey considers the fact that no children have ever been known to get lead poisoning from a book, and realizes

There has been a mass government conspiracy. They’ve obviously been conducting a massive cover up. You see, they didn’t want us to know about all the lead poisoning so they’ve been oblivating our memories and hiding all the children. Dumbledore was totally in on it.

The Precautionary Principle- whereby things are regulated out of the market unless they can prove a negative- seems to be the basis on which PIRG, Public Citizen and others to push through the CPSIA. But have they applied it everwhere they should?

We can only ask supporters of the precautionary principle to follow it through to its logical conclusion, that is not to have it applied unless it can be proved that no risk is involved. It is up to them to prove that this principle is harmless.

(bonnet tip to Overlawyered)

My dear friend Mama Squirrel recommends hairy conniption fits for all and a paper bag for me. Not a bad prescription. She also found another excellent book tie-in- The Gammage Cup. Perhaps that’s the problem, Congress and the special interest groups were eating their children’s books instead of reading classics like A Wrinkle in Time, The Gammage Cup, and The Giver.
And she wrote about yet another endangered picture book.

David Niall Wilson is righteously indignant:

This is a witch hunt based on incredible assumptions, over-the-top regulation, and stolen freedom. And it isn’t just our freedom at stake here, it’s 209 years of American Children’s Literature, and everything that came before. As an author who was published for the first time about twenty years ago, I find it interesting to hear from this committee that books aren’t worth anything after about twenty years. Really? So…I’m still alive, writing, and my early work should be destroyed because it’s beyond it’s value point?

This kind of idiocy has to be fought. I won’t be getting rid of any of the beautifully illustrated old books I own, nor will my children. How about this, Washington? You want to waste money on this, why not institute a federal training program. We’ll teach any parents not already on board with it that they need to instruct their children not to eat books. No licking the illustrations. Ink is not to drink, no matter what the Yink in the Dr. Seuss book (which by the way they are telling you you have to throw out) has to say about it.

It occurs to me that this this law also places the government in the role of censor, as it’s not enough for the manufacturer, author, publisher, seller, to slap a 13 and over label on the product- the government must agree that they think the product is for 13 and older rather than 12 and younger.

Valerie writes about the ways the CPSIA increases risk and harms rather than reduces them, things Congress and the special interest lobbyists never seem to have considered:

As far as I can tell, no one fighting for CPSIA explored the potential risks, but the risks are real and significant, making the making the moral duty of Congress very clear.

CPSIA invites economic devastation into children’s homes and communities. POVERTY

CPSIA limits children’s access to inexpensive and free books. ILLITERACY

CPSIA decreases the supply of coats, boots, mittens and other protective winter gear. COLD STRESS

CPSIA invites the use of new, untested and minimally tested chemicals in children’s products. ILLNESS

click through for more.

Heh- you have to read the comments to this post
to learn that Congressman Hill takes credit for using the CPSIA to ban something that has been banned since 1988. Is he lying? Confused? The victim of a typo? Who knows?

Uh oh. Is Michelle Obama guilty of a CPSIA violation?

Carol Baicer-McCee has a very informative post on how the CPSIA is hindering literacy efforts for groups who give away books- are stapled bindings forbidden without testing or not? This was particularly interesting:

If these literacy groups have to forgo both older donated books (which some distribute and others resell as fundraisers) and either or test or discard their inventories of the affordable stapled books, their programs will be severely affected and many fewer children will get books in their hands this year. It’s unclear what will happen to the prices or availability of these books once testing and certification of non-exempt products goes into effect in February, 2010 – but it can hardly be good.

And now to why this really, really matters, in terms of children at risk for lead poisoning. Right now, there are no effective medical treatments for kids with elevated blood levels. For kids with dangerously high levels, doctors do chelation therapy which removes heavy metals, but it’s risky and not effective at the low levels more commonly seen. Bellinger, one of the major researchers on lead poisoning, has noted that there is not a consistent dose-effect relationship between lead and neurological functioning (information I suspect was likely missing from the Congressional hearing on this issue). See this abstract of a journal article on the research here. Based on his review of the body of literature and his own research, Bellinger hypothesizes that an enriched environment can prevent or ameliorate the effects of lead exposure, which is especially significant in light of the absence of an effective medical treatment.

Don’t forget to take a peek at the hundreds of illustrations from pre-1985 books now up at Flickr– it’s growing daily.

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