Book burning on Feb. 10th 2009 due to CPSIA


I have not been able to verify the information in this blog post but this information is moving around via email to librarians so I thought I would pass it on. Without specific cites to the law I would be very wary to take at face value some of the points made.


The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA H.R. 4040) has a good goal: protect kids from dangerous imports tainted with lead. Bravo! Unfortunately it goes about doing so in such a way that it’ll drive up costs across the board, drive many manufacturers and retailers out of business, and not really make kids any safer.

So what does CPSIA do? It mandates lead testing for ALL items intended for children under 13 or PERCEIVED as being for those under age 13. So items commonly regarded as “kids stuff” even if it is intended for adults, such as many comics, collectible books, high end popups, etc, still falls under the statute even though they’re aimed at adult collectors.

Full blog post here.


Try this first as it comes from the relevant agency: I'm getting into gear making inquiries. I just got off the phone from the Consumer Product Safety Commission's press office voicemail. I'm waiting for a call back. ________________________ Stephen Michael Kellat, Host, LISTen PGP KeyID: 899C131F

I should have some docs in hand today or sometime next week on this. For now it is late in the day in DC and it is a Friday, so anything is possible.
Stephen Michael Kellat, Host, LISTen
PGP KeyID: 899C131F

If the Act were read and understood it would be obvious that this blog post is complete nonsense.

1) The Act does not apply to different editions, or different books produced by a publisher. A lot or batch can contain different books produced from the same presses or plant and contain the same batch or lot number. Just as a variety of dress sizes can have the same lot or batch number and would be treated as a single batch for testing purposes under the act.

2) There would be no books to burn on 2/10/09 as the act does not apply to articles produced before that date so any books existing on that date in inventory would be exempt.

What a bunch of clowns. That is why I stopped telling people I am a librarian because they act like Chicken Little.

The letter that says only new products are required to be tested also says that “children’s products with more than 600 ppm total lead cannot lawfully be sold in the United States on or after February 10, 2009, even if they were manufactured before that date.”

Does it exempt libraries because we do not sell things? Maybe.

The more I read, the more confused I become.

The library is not selling the books but more importantly the books do not have 600ppm of lead. If there is not 600ppm of lead then there is no problem.

Who determines whether the books or covers have less than the permissible level of lead? Who pays for the testing? The library? The publishers? The wholesalers? I don't dispute that books likely do not have much lead, but the law appears to demand proof -- the books are guilty until proven innocent. And who pays the fees for establishing innocence, both now and for books yet purchased?

The law only demands proof for items manufactured after Feb of this year. No proof is needed for old items.

If you have items over 600ppm you can get in trouble but two points
1) Libraries don't have any books over 600ppm
2) The product safety commission is never going to come check

They have two inspectors. Are they going to start with libraries or with Lead Mart? People need to chill and look at what the law was designed to do. No one from the product safety commission is going to step into a library. And if they step in nothing is going to happen because libraries do not have 600ppm books and because they do not manufacture books they don't have to have the compliance certificates.

I posted on this topic today and included several relevant links, including a clarification on existing inventories by the CPSC:

Hope this helps!

If you actually read the law as it is written,you might understand that this law applies to EVERYTHING a child under 12 might use. It is retroactive. It does NOT grandfather anything in.

This is a letter released by Random House regarding this issue.

January 7, 2009

Application Of Lead-Testing Requirements To Books Threatens
Removal Of Children's Books From Classrooms, Schools & Libraries

The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), enacted in August of last year, imposes stringent requirements for lead-content testing of toys and other children's products. Beginning February 10, any children's product found to contain more than the new limits on lead content as a result of such testing will be treated as a banned
hazardous substance under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act.

Although paper-based books are not "regulated products" within the
jurisdiction of the Consumer Product Safety Commission and have no
history of presenting toxic risks to children due to lead content, the
Commission's Office of General Counsel, responding two weeks ago to a request for an advisory opinion by the Association of American
Publishers and allied industries on the limited application of CPSIA
testing requirements to such books, has opined that "a book intended
or designed primarily for children would need to meet" the new lead
content limits and thus must be tested to determine whether they are
safe for children's use.

The advisory opinion reached this conclusion despite the Association
of American Publishers' efforts to distinguish actual, paper-based
books from plastic children's toys in the shape or form of books that
are intended to be played with or serve as teething devices for young
children, and despite a broad showing of actual test results
demonstrating that the ink, paper, paperboard, adhesive and binding
components of actual paper-based books do not present a risk of lead
toxicity to children.

If the CPSIA is applied to paper-based books, as indicated in the
advisory opinion of the CPSC General Counsel, children's book
publishers, manufacturers and distributors will be confronted with
several nightmarish scenarios. All existing paper-based children's
books such as The Cat in the Hat, Goodnight Moon and Harry Potter as well as thousands of textbook titles—tens of millions of
books—currently on the shelves of our nation's classrooms, public and
school libraries, bookstores and in warehouses may simply be removed and destroyed because they cannot feasibly be tested to assure compliance with these unfounded toxicity concerns. All new
paper-based books—not plastic toys in the shape of books—will be
needlessly subjected to expensive and time-consuming testing that will overwhelm the few laboratories accredited for testing of actual
children's toys and other children's products potentially presenting
real threats of lead toxicity. These scenarios will have severe
adverse effects on our children's education.


Call the representatives listed below and explain to them that this is
an urgent issue with potentially dire consequences, and request that
paper-based children's books be given an immediate exemption from this law.

Ordinary paper-based children's books have no history of posing a lead threat to children.
Despite this, there is no way to assure book retailers that current
titles are actually in compliance. This is already triggering a
crushing and wholly unnecessary rejection of children's books by
stores and distributors.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission has the power to exempt
categories from the scope of the CPSIA, and should exempt ordinary
paper-based children's books.

Wow, what a diatribe. To bad none of it is true. Trust me, in a year there will still be childrens books.

I worry that the hysterical people like this will throw away good books because they feel they have to comply with the law. Sad they don't understand that the law does not require this.

>It is retroactive. It does NOT grandfather anything in.

Back this up. Cite me the section that makes it retroactive. What I see is language that says that things made after Feb. 10 are effected.

You rant about people reading the law and then present a letter from Random House.

Nice authoratative source


Please show me where in the text of HR 4040 it states that books are not required to be tested. I've read the entire thing, numerous times, and even read it again, looking specifically for justification to your argument. I was not able to find it. So, I, and many others whom you like to describe as hysterical would appreciate it if you show us exactly where this information is.

You say:

If you actually read the law as it is written,you might understand that this law applies to EVERYTHING a child under 12 might use. It is retroactive. It does NOT grandfather anything in.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission says:

The new law requires that domestic manufacturers and importers certify that children’s products made after February 10 meet all the new safety standards and the lead ban. Sellers of used children’s products, such as thrift stores and consignment stores, are not required to certify that those products meet the new lead limits, phthalates standard or new toy standards.

"Under the new law, children’s products with more than 600 ppm total lead cannot lawfully be sold in the United States on or after February 10, 2009, even if they were manufactured before that date. The total lead limit drops to 300 ppm on August 14, 2009."

This is from the consumer product safety commission website - it seems to appy to old materials too.
What I am unsure of is whether libraries are considered to "sell" since we only loan materials.

Apparently the decision to apply the requirement to existing inventory was made back in Sept.

Under the new law, children’s products with more than 600 ppm total lead cannot lawfully be sold in the United States on or after February 10, 2009

There is no lead in books so there is no issue. If someone is manufacturing books with lead the law requires them to stop. So what?

Depending upon the design of covers, specialty ones can have amounts in excess of the threshold. I'm still waiting to hear back on my CPSC data request. I can get an artist lined up to explain why and how lead would be used in making book and magazine covers, though.
Stephen Michael Kellat, Host, LISTen
PGP KeyID: 899C131F

From the CPSC FAQ file.
Q: Does the new requirement for total lead on children's products apply to children's books, cassettes and CD's, printed game boards, posters and other printed goods used for children's education?
A: In general, yes. [There is detail about substrates that may contain lead paint under the plastic surface, etc.]

Yes book covers could have lead if the dyes and inks have lead in them. So manufacturers of books should not make books with 600ppm after Feb.10. And if you are a store you should not sell books with lead above 600ppm after Feb 10.

Since almost no books are going to have lead over 600ppm this means almost nothing.

What about products that are for adults but children might get hold of?

Like bullets, fountains in public gardens, gates, collections of old lead soldiers in museums?

In regards to general use items there is a FAQ at the CPSIA website and it backs the non-chicken little view.

Someone wrote into the CPSC and asked what about ballpoint pens? The brass in the head of the pens supposedly has lead in it. CPSA answer was that pens are for general use and would not be effected by the CPSIA.

So the Ahhhhhhhhh, Ahhhhhhhhhh, all pens are made illegal by the CPSIA was shot down by the CPSC. (The agency that enforces the CPSIA)

The Civil War is now illegal because of the lead used in bullets with which children may come in contact.

However modern battlefields, especially those in which depleted uranium rounds are used are prefectly fine.

Sky is falling clowns.

This bears repeating, since apparently some didn't understand it the first time:
"Under the new law, children’s products with more than 600 ppm total lead cannot lawfully be sold in the United States on or after February 10, 2009, even if they were manufactured before that date. The total lead limit drops to 300 ppm on August 14, 2009."

As to the person stating there is no lead in books-how do you know? Have you lead tested books? Have you talked to anybody who has tested books for lead? Apparently in some books there is the possibility that there may be too much lead on the covers, and the law applies to ALL children's items, not just those manufactured after Feb. 10 2009 (read above quote again if this is not clear).

ANY children's item that has over the legal limit of lead will be considered a "banned hazardous substance", subject to the Federal Hazardous Substances Act (FHSA), which prohibits introducing such items into the stream of commerce. While I don't know if these rules apply to libraries, they certainly DO apply to anybody who SELLS a children's book.

If it is a new item in a retail store it must have a certificate of compliance (if one is not provided by the manufacturer/publisher, you MUST test the item and receive a certificate from the lab/test administrator or else destroy it). If it is a used item being resold it DOES NOT need a certificate, but if it DOES have too much lead (say a CPSC field agent shows up and tests it with his handheld XRF analyzer), the seller will face civil and/or criminal penalties.

The CPSC is charged with enforcing the law and adopting regulations to do so. The CPSC is not the authoratative source for the law. You might want to read it in the Federal Register, as that is indeed an authoratative source for the law.

By the way the CPSC has exactly two inspectors for this type of compliance inspection.

Libraries are not affected as they do not sell books.

The only reason the law is retroactive is that you can't allow manufacturers that have created lead chew toys for children to sell them and have a loop hole that they were manufactured before this year.

The whole purpose of the law is to make sure that the stream of new products coming on the market do not have too much lead in them.

How much does one of those XRF analyzers cost? I think I am going to buy one and open my own lead inspection service.

First place I am going to go is the Mercedes dealership. "Sorry this Mercedes has too much lead. I am going to need to confiscate it."

Many first edition books were originally printed for children. Many vintage, used booksellers only sell some of these books (like some of the kids books) for like $20.00
How are they to make a living if it'll cost 10 times that for them to lead test each book?

I am now certain that common sense and native intelligence is in short supply in the USA.
Instead we have Government flexing their muscles banning stuff on the flimsiest of excuses....
Oh well, it was a good run while it lasted!!!!

Maybe what needs to be done first is for books to be screened for lead using an XRF (X-ray fluorescence). Then if books are shown to contain lead that is at or above the same standard as paint (1.0 micrograms/square centimeter), then they should be tested in a laboratory for the CPSC level. Using the XRF as screening tool is fairly inexpensive, a large number of books could be tested fairly quickly and it is non-destructive. As well, if the test is negative, then it can be treated as not containing lead.

This notion that there has been no problems or that there is no lead can only be summed up by stating that is because it has not been tested. To sit there and do anything but look for viable options and be unwilling to get lead contaminants out of the hands of children is pathetic. How many of you thought it was a travesty that lead was in or on any of the toys that have been imported from China over the past few years? If there is lead in the inks that were used in printing, that lead can be available to children. It does not take a whole lot to become lead poisoned and it does not required the children to eat the pages.

Do I think the CPSC's planis flawless? Absolutely not. Is there some merit in the rules? Absolutely yes.

Even if there is no lead in the books, the burning of books poses it's own set of health hazards. If there is lead in them, it exacerbates the lead poisoning issue.

I think you will enjoy reading this!

Dr. Seuss Meets the CPSIA –