(Click here  for our complete coverage of CPSIA.)
The book publishing industry is joining the American Library Association  in questioning the wisdom and intent of applying CPSIA lead and phthalate standards to children’s books. The American Association of Publishers (AAP)  and Children’s Book Council (CBC)  are among the groups starting to lobby the Senate and House to clarify and/or revise CPSIA to exempt conventionally printed hardcover and paperback books.
Many children’s books have already moved to soy-based organic inks. There is little or no evidence of lead or phthalates being a problem in older inks or in paper, cardboard, and glues used for printing most books. While the industry agrees that specialty books that have plastic and metal parts might warrant testing according to CPSIA limits, it strongly disagrees with the necessity of such testing for conventional books books printed on paper and cardboard.
Among the major concerns about the implementation of CPSIA as applied to books are:
It will reduce the diversity of titles available overnight as small volume books may not warrant testing costs and large volume books join a potential backlog of products to be tested.
The price of some new titles could be raised by 20% because of the testing requirements.
Older titles already on the shelves aren’t practical to test book-by-book, meaning that inventory might be subject to disposal. Libraries and schools may have to discard their books and replace them, if and when funds allow.
It’s not clear which labs are accredited to do testing, further complicating the logistics of getting books tested and approved even when there is an intent to do so.
The financial impact of being unable to sell products and potentially having to destroy or dispose of inventory may put some bookstores and publishers out of business. This is particularly bad given the dire state of the US economy.
Many school textbooks were printed years before CPSIA 2008 was passed and therefore have no test data to prove they have acceptable lead and phthalate limits. How are children supposed to learn in schools without books?
With violations of the law having both civil liability and criminal penalties including fines running to $100,000 and jail time to 5 years, businesses, libraries, and schools don’t want to be taking risks. The need for immediate clarification and revision of CPSIA to address the above-mentioned implications is crucial given the impending February 10, 2009, start of enforcement of the law.