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Green Toy Safety Backfire?

By Linda Brown-Kuhn
November 24, 2009
File under: Health, holidays, Product Safety, Toys


The mad rush for holiday toy shopping is on. This can be tricky territory for the health and eco-conscious parent. And now a new law designed to improve toy safety may end up reducing eco-friendly toy choices.

The Scoop

The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) sets mandatory safety standards for toys, clothes, and other items used by kids 12 years and younger. Toy manufacturers will have to test their toys to prove they are safe.

There clearly are issues with toy safety as evidenced by the huge toy recalls a couple of years ago after high levels of lead were discovered in a bunch of holiday toys. Since then the CPSIA, enacted in 2008, has restricted the amount of lead and other chemicals allowed in toys.

Yet problems still exist. Flash forward to a couple of weeks ago when toy testing done by the Center for Environmental Health showed that of 250 children’s products tested, seven had lead levels that exceeded federal standards. We’re talking Barbie and Disney brands among the seven.

So this tightening of the safety standard screws on toy manufacturers seems all good. But for small toymakers who often make natural toys, this required testing could knock them out of business. While costs associated with testing won’t cause a ripple in a big toy manufacturer’s budget, the fees may be more than a lot of mom and pop toymakers can absorb.

What Can You Do?

With required testing for lead content and certain phthalates due to start on February 10, 2010, time is running short for those who want to alter the law before it goes into effect. The Handmade Toy Alliance is mounting a campaign to exempt books and natural products with uncoated fabrics.

If you want to get involved you can sign their petition or use their sample letter to write to your Congress person or Senator.

While shopping for earth friendly toys right now, Greenopia’s toy reviews may help you find the perfect green car, rattle, puzzle or doll. You might want to buy a few extras to save for next year.

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