Updated on 08.26.14

Hand-Me-Downs: Consumer Protectionism Gone Too Far?

Trent Hamm

After writing this, I’m pretty sure that this article will stir up some potentially intense comments. I encourage disagreement with my take on this situation – just keep it polite towards me and especially other commenters.

For those of you who haven’t heard the news yet, on February 10, 2009, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act comes into effect. One of the major changes that this program will bring into play is a mandate that everything sold for children 12 and younger will have to be tested for lead and phthalates, and anything that isn’t tested (or that fails) will be considered hazardous and cannot be sold. Read more about the CPSIA at the L.A. Times and some interesting blog commentary from the fashion industry.

For new products, this isn’t an issue at all and is in fact a good thing. Many products are already being screened with such tests, and those that are not will be required to begin such testing shortly or will be pulled from the market. In terms of safety for my children, I’m quite happy with the effects of this law on new products.

Where things get interesting is with used products. Consider your local resale and thrift shop. Currently, all of their secondhand children’s clothes will have to be tested for lead and phthalates. Given that many such stores aren’t high-income operations – many are nonprofits – these shops simply cannot afford to do the testing on the children’s clothes on their shelves.

So what happens? Most thrift shops are currently not accepting any children’s clothing at all. Sometime in the next month or so, all thrift shops will have to clear all of their children’s clothing from the shelves … and send them to the landfill. (It’s worth noting that the Consumer Product Safety Commission is considering a reprieve for products made from natural materials, which would exempt some clothes, but not nearly all clothes.)

What are the effects of this?

Used children’s clothing stores, like Kid to Kid, are basically going to be forced out of business.

With no way to easily distinguish between “safe” and “unsafe” clothes without testing every item that comes in for lead and phthalates (which is fairly expensive), these stores can’t stay in business. Either their business model will have to change or they’re done.

Children’s clothing at secondhand shops will vanish.

They simply won’t carry such products because of the liability risk, so they won’t carry such clothes for at least a few years.

Landfills are going to fill up.

The inventories at these stores will no longer be able to be sold (though they may be able to be given away). Thus, these stores are going to have to either toss their inventory or simply give it away to charities.

The big question here is are these effects worth the benefit of eliminating children’s clothes that have some chance of being tainted with lead or phthalates? This is a question that could be debated for years.

Obviously, from the singular perspective of children’s health, it’s far better to have all of their items lead and phthalate free. Even if the chance for exposure from an individual item is slight, having that chance reduced is better for the health of children. It’s worth noting that most articles of clothing that children wear are made largely out of cotton or other natural materials and are not treated with anything. Areas of concern for lead and phthalates would be clothes that were treated to be flame-retardant, clothes made out of artificial fibers, and potentially clothes that have plastic printing on them.

On the flip side of that coin is the fact that this will increase the cost of children’s clothing. Without any changes to the law, used clothing stores will no longer sell low-cost slightly used children’s clothes, a resource that many frugal and low-income families take advantage of.

Are there any useful potential compromises? One simple thing that could be done is to simply exclude used products from this law. This would require Congressional action, but would allow Goodwill (and other such secondhand stores) to continue selling low-cost children’s clothes – the availability of which is very important to families with low incomes. Similarly, the law could be amended to apply only to items made after February 10. In both cases, though, Congress would have to act on the matter, so if you feel this is important, contact your congressperson and ask that they amend the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act in a satisfactory fashion.

What should a frugal parent do?

Consider the question: Are you personally concerned with this issue and your children’s clothing?

To be quite frank, it’s a reasonable decision to decide that you aren’t really concerned with this, considering your children are likely already exposed to substantially more lead and phthalates from other products besides their clothes – it may be much like worrying about a molehill when there’s a mountain nearby.

If you are concerned about this issue, you should halt your purchasing of both new and used children’s clothes until after February 10, then purchase only new clothing.

If you are not concerned about this issue, now is the time to stock up on such clothes. Hit used clothing stores hard in the next month, as many such stores will begin seriously cutting their prices on used children’s clothing as the cutoff date approaches.

If you have clothes that you’re no longer going to use, you may want to consider handing them down directly, as you’ll likely no longer be able to donate them. Look for people who could use the clothes and offer to just give them everything you can’t use – or sell them at a low bulk price.

Two questions for discussion:

Are issues like this even worth worrying about at all?

It’s a reasonable perspective to look at situations like this and simply shrug them off – there are so many safety issues out there that obsessing over a small chance of lead or phthalates in children’s clothing or toys isn’t worth your while unless you’ve been alerted to a very clear and onerous situation. At the other end of the spectrum comes a parenting philosophy where one buys only all-natural toys and such to avoid such chemicals in the home. I fall somewhere in the middle – I like to be aware of such things and I’m sure to keep an eye out for product recalls on children’s toys in our house, but this news story is not about to make me start chucking out my kid’s clothes.

Is a law like this fair?

Again, I see both sides on this one. My personal feeling is that used items should be exempted from the law for at least a year – and that items sold post-testing should have a symbol on them somewhere for easy identification. I tend to think that the law does make a lot of sense for new products, but it’s very aggressive on the used items.

I’m really interested in your thoughts on this issue (and similar consumer issues).

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  1. Jessica says:

    Wow. Thank you Trent for highlighting this issue (of which I had no previous knowledge). I think that new tested clothes should be marked as such, so that in a few years this will no longer be an issue for secondhand stores. As for now, I agree that second-hand should be exempt for a time.

    What about swap websites? Does this law only apply when money is exchanged for clothes, as apposed to ‘gifts’ or swapping?

  2. Joe Wood says:

    Very interesting post. Given recent issues (e.g. dangerous products from China), isn’t it better to side with child safety than thriftiness?

  3. jdp says:

    I’ll echo Jessica. Thank you! Had no idea.

    I’m like you, I tend to fall in the middle. Have to be frugal but try to be wise (esp given personal family concerns about just what is it that sets off autoimmune diseases and trying to remove chemicals in our lives).

    I guess its just another example of things I frequently rant about – gov’t intervention – instead of educating people and giving them information and choices (so they can make whatever choice here would be best for them) they regulate things to impossibility.

    They only make cigarette companies label with warnings and have educational campaigns but lets stick it to everyone else.

    And knowing how sad the policing of food and toys is I’m wondering how effective this will be.

  4. Barb D says:

    This is a huge issue for the handmade/craft community as well. Read more at: http://www.etsy.com/storque/craftivism/handmade-childrens-items-unintended-consequences-consumer-pr-3056/

  5. Another area that this law impacts is handmade toy makers, who will largely be run out of business regardless of the materials they use to make the toys:


  6. Brett McKay says:

    Does this apply to garage sales? My wife and I are expecting a baby this spring and we were planning on buying a lot of our clothes from garage sales and tag sales.

  7. Thanks for pointing this out, I had not heard about it and will have to tell my wife, as she does quite a bit of shopping at stores like Kid to Kid for our children.
    Personally, I would not worry too much about small chance of lead or phthalates-most of our kids clothes are cotton anyway.
    I do think that Goodwill and other sellers of used clothing should be exempt- it could really hurt low-income families that cannot afford full retail price for new clothing.

  8. michelle says:

    This issue is definitely a double edged sword. I believe newly manufactured items should be held to a higher standard than in the past and then labeled with new safety info, But get real, this will lead to black market sellers of used kids clothing. I, for one can not afford to buy high quality natural fiber clothes for my kids if I have to buy them new. Most of my kids clothing comes from thrift stores and it is one of our best money saving tactics. This is indeed a direct attack on our personal choice as parents.

  9. Suzanne says:

    I agree that the safety of our children is paramount. However, I believe we are starting to cross over into over protection. The safety of children’s products has come lightyears ahead of where it used to be only 100 years ago. This step provides very little safety benefit and provides too much economic consequence.

  10. Erin G says:

    wow, I had no idea about this, and it’s a real bummer since used children’s clothes are almost always the way to go. kids hardly ever wear clothes out before outgrowing them, so buying used means you’re still getting things that have been used only “gently.” also it reduces the number of clothes that need to be made… at all. which is a good thing.

    do you think this law will affect sellers at yard sales, church consignment sales, ebay, and the like? do you think the market for used kids clothing will come back in a few years, as the tested/approved items become secondhand and up for resale?

    I read an article last week about how the market for used cloth diapers on ebay has almost totally dried up since they no longer allow internet resales. thought you might be interested: http://almostfrugal.com/2008/12/26/the-problems-with-reselling-cloth-diapers/

  11. Kristen says:

    It’s not just secondhand clothing sellers that will be affected – what about all the handcrafters who make children’s items? Toys, dolls, clothes…this will put many of them out of business as well.

  12. April says:

    Comment #2–Excellent point. God forbid we take a chance on lead in clothing, but cigarettes, which are directly linked to cancer, need only a warning label.

    I think the government oversteps in SO many situations, and this is another. I have no problem with new clothing meetings these requirements and being labeled as such, but I see the mountain/molehill point Trent made. If a kid is exposed to harsh cleaning chemicals, secondhand smoke, and his parents feed him food raised with hormones and pesticides, does the possibility of lead in clothing really matter? Label the new clothing so consumers can make an informed choice. I emphasize CHOICE.

  13. doris says:

    Thanks for letting us know about this. I had no idea. I buy all of my daughter’s clothes at consignment shops because I find good quality AND a lot of variety – something I just can’t find at any other single store. I have wondered why this was not in effect for NEW children’s items. However, I do think that used clothes need not be included. Larger companies can more easily afford to add a system to check these things. I see the people in these stores working hard to just get the new merchandise on the racks…this will definitely slow them down and the cost will be passed on bringing the prices up to match new retail. How could these small family businesses possibly stay afloat?

  14. Jules says:

    I find it really ironic that people are screaming about phthalates and lead in kids’ stuff, and don’t think twice about smoking in front of them. I mean, the chemicals in secondhand smoke are, without a doubt, harmful, whereas the damage from phthalates has only been demonstrated in rats. What’s the sense in forbidding the sale of things that haven’t been tested for phthalates, while still allowing the sale of, say, Skittles (which is probably equally laden with chemicals).

    I also find it ironic that, whereas we pass legislation that purports to “protect the children” from chemicals that might be harmful, the social services in place to protect kids from abuse are drastically underfunded and in some cases (Philadelphia comes to mind) woefully inadequate.

    I would support labeling untested items as such. Just as people take risks with non-organic produce (ZOMG, the lead in the spinach!), they should be free to take risks with kids’ clothing. I do not feel the same way about secondhand toys, though–toys should always be tested. The logic: food and clothing are necessities, and if it comes down to something that *might* be unsafe or not having it at all, the lesser evil is usually taking the risk with the *possibly* unsafe thing. But nobody *needs* toys (just ask any kid who’s got a big enough box).

  15. steve says:

    My opinion is that new clothing should meet these standards and used clothing should be exempted. New clothes should be required to have a label on them specifying that they passed the test, so that future second hand buyers will know. Used clothing businesses where money changes hands (web-based or brick-and-mortar -should simply be required to post a health advisory about the issue.

    While it is a great idea to make everything totally safe, I think in practice we need some gradualism. If new clothes are lead and pthalate free, within some period of years, all of them will be as the current stock is depleted and goes in landfills. I think that is a reasonable solution to the problem or reducing kids’ exposure to these compounds.

    Far more difficult to solve in such a short timespan would be the exposure of children to existing carpeting, furniture ulphostery, and the dust from those fabrics, which is something that also should be looked at and perhaps solved.

    I may make my opinion known to lawmakers and the CPSC, if I have time–I have a lot of more pressing stuff on my plate right now.

  16. Dan Bencsik says:

    I think a workable business model for the shops would be to allow customers into the store for a fee or charge a per bag fee rather than for the clothes themselves. I think this could reasonably work.

    I to am a fan of hand me down kids clothing, it would be a real shame to see this happen. I would imagine increased traffic to the free sites like free cycle and craigs list to increase the trading of kids apparel.

  17. Does anyone know if this applies to places that GIVE AWAY used clothing? Our church outreach center collects and distributes clothing, but never charges a cent for it.

  18. gsb says:

    Great post Trent, like most I had absolutely no knowledge of this. I can understand the safety concerns, but compared to so many other things out there how dangerous is this really? Have there been studies that would prove to us that this is necessary? It only puts those in difficult financial situations in an even worse spot. I agree with the labelling of new products so parents are allowed to make their own choices.

  19. Donna says:

    Totally agree with Jules. Label things and let the buyer decide.

    I know so many small time crafters and artists who will be affected negatively by this new legislation. I myself am formerly one of them. I used to make childrens clothing and baby items (like blankets, burp cloths and things of that nature.) I’m glad I closed my business last year, I swear this country is determined to kill of the little people. Laws like this prevent small businesses from starting and existing ones from flourishing.

  20. steve says:

    For all of those who say “our clothing is cotton”–well not really. “Cotton” is treated in many different ways to give it desirable characteristics when used for textile. It is my understanding that much cotton yarn is treated with various chemical and even plastic compounds to achieve this. I am not an expert, but I would not be certain that just because “it’s cotton” that an item is free of these compounds. Just think of your high-end cotton shirt, with the super-fine finish. I believe some of that is done with yarn pre-treatment. It’s worth looking into if you are interested in the topic.

    In our society, chemicals are all around us and we use them in our lives. Some of them may be deleterious and it would be wise to limit those as much as we can–but there are costs associated with doing so.

  21. harm says:

    A good idea taken to an extreme (with a benefit
    for the legal ‘profession’, of course) :P

  22. Lisa says:

    I raised my kids on yard sale and consignment shop clothes and toys. What will people do that can’t afford brand new? Personally, I would keep swapping clothes with friends to help out.

  23. Lauren says:

    I don’t get what all the concern is about. Yes its a noble idea to try to protect kids from chemicals in their clothing, but as pp pointed out, we are exposed to those kinds of chemicals in so many other forms.
    As far as some posters suggestion about attaching a label to new clothing certifying that it was already tested for future resale situations, what if someone cuts the label off? I know that when I buy new clothes I cut all the tags and labels off, who wants those things annoying you all the time? Just a thought

  24. StacySix says:

    One of the worst aspects of this legislation is that it essentially punishes all the small businesses and cottage industry producers who have been acting responsibly for years. The companies that have exposed our kids to leads and other toxins are big enough to get their stuff tested. Small businesses who have chosen to use natural materials, organic fabrics, untreated woods and so on, can’t afford the testing.

    I knew about the impact to business crafters (being one of them) but I had no idea this was going to impact the used clothing market. This is insanity! At a time when the economy is so poor already, thousands of small businesses are going to be lost. It’s going to be that much more expensive to raise our kids. Just insane.

  25. nickel says:

    Thanks for pointing this out — I hadn’t heard of it. It seems to me that existing clothes should be grandfathered in, such that this would only apply to new clothing sales.

  26. Wendy says:

    Another problem with this legislation is that handmade toys are also under the gun. If you enjoy your wood and organic fiber toys made in the US and Europe, check out this website and write to your legislators:

    All of these mom and pop toy companies are subject to the same costly tests, even though they were never a part of the recent or past chemical scares. If these small companies fail, we will only be able to buy noisy, plastic, unimaginative toys from the huge companies like Playschool and Mattel.

  27. Cheryl says:

    This legislation is very complex & confusing for a lot of reasons and how it will affect clothing is still very vague. I’m glad products will have more safety going forward, but retro-active product policing is wrong, as is obliterating the handmade and one-of-a-kind. As though the US economy & environment isn’t fragile enough, this is going to have some major negative impacts.

    If this ruling applies to used, is the next step to start mandating that we aren’t allowed to keep any non-certified products in our own homes without penalty? Door-to-door inspections of homes with children? Requirements to throw out anything purchased before 2/10/09? It’s so ludicrous.

    Any idea how this will affect donations to organizations that just give items away? Second-hand stores are selling items and therefore affected just like the rest of retailers, but what about freecycle, churches, pregnancy centers, etc. that give away donated items? I think those may be the loophole, at least I hope…

  28. Amy says:

    Like another commenter, I’m also very concerned about those who sell individually handmade items for children, on sites such as Etsy. One seller there told me it would cost several thousand dollars (and, I imagine, many months if not years) to submit her handmade felt finger puppets for testing, which of course is out of the question.

    Also, does this apply to children’s books?

    What an idiotic measure during the current economic situation!

  29. Laura says:

    FYI, this also applies to handmade children’s items…ones which have never had issues with lead or other health issues (think of the nice old lady up the street that makes doll clothes in her spare time…her products are included in this law, the grandpa who sits on his front porch and whittles train whistles to sell at the church bazaar…also included). Many artisans on Etsy will close up shop, myself included…craft fairs and other handmade good exchanges will fall to the wayside. This law is casting a giant net and scooping up way more than is necessary, advisable or safe. It is providing gigantic corporations with monopoly power. It is the giant corporations who can afford the testing mandated by this law…or the payoff to say the goods have passed. (sorry, I live in Illinois, I assume everything can be bought and sold).

    For the reasons in this article, as well as the unreasonably broad sweep of this law, it needs to be shelved and re-written to provide some REAL protection against companies using unsafe labor practices, cut-rate manufacturing and supplies and deception to skirt around safety mechanisms already in place.

    The safety of the products given to our children is NO DOUBT a huge concern (which is why I spend most of my toy budget on local handmade toys…or I will until February). However, this law is not the answer and creates more issues than it solves.

  30. jm says:

    “Second, is a law like this fair?”

    Fairness has nothing to do with it. Most laws outside of the ones dealing with serious crime, I suspect, are not ‘fair’. Laws exist to take things from someone and put them in the hands of someone else. Democracy is two wolves and a sheep deciding what to have for dinner. Representative democracy is the same thing but the sheep are able to convince the wolves to eat the rabbits instead.

    Now usually laws like these happen because this is what society has decided to do, through its elected representatives, but in almost all cases there is a loser and a winner.

    Law in a civilized society is not generally a zero sum game (and it probably shouldn’t be) and therefore is not generally ‘fair’.

    The issue of fairness aside, what is idiotic about this measure, is why don’t they simply sew a label on the clothes (next to the washing instructions) saying it may contain bad stuff, use at your own risk, and let the PARENTS decide whether its an acceptable risk or not?

  31. Johnny says:

    Disgusting… This reeks of corporate meddling. Pretty good way to FORCE you to buy new items…
    Of course, our congress is too shortsighted, incompetent, corrupt and too downright stupid to see this for what it is: an attack on the free market.

    So sick of legislation like this. Where is the outrage?

  32. Emily says:

    For people that are truly concerned about this, it doesn’t hurt to e-mail or call your Senator and/or Representative. You can sit and stew about how outrageous something is but the only way to try to get something changed is to speak up. At least there may be the option down the line for some provisions to be made for used clothing dealers and small business owners.

  33. D-ra says:

    as others have pointed out this has HUGE ramifications for the handmade industry. So sad, because I was just starting to really embrace local craft fairs and etsy sellers. There’s more info at handmadetoyalliance dot org

  34. Rob says:

    It’s hard to post a comment about this without getting a full handle on how widespread the problem is. So I googled it, of course. :-p


    All right, everyone that’s posting “outraged” – how many kids have you seen wearing the clothing on the website? For those of you raving and ranting about how people should be given the CHOICE, I suppose it’s okay for low-income families with no access to the link above to wear the clothing because they don’t have the CHOICE to see what is and isn’t recalled?

  35. Michelle says:

    I can see the point of this for toys. I was really worried last year and this year about lead in the toys I bought for my children, and took active steps to try and purchase toys that I was relatively certain to be lead free. It would have been much easier if there had been something like this for toys, and I support this for NEW clothing as well. I think the government does have a role to play in protecting it’s citizens, which is what this law is intended to do. The free-market folks tend to argue that people won’t buy things that aren’t safe. Well, for somethings that’s true, but not in the area of necessities. Safer products are, in general, more expensive than less safe options, meaning that, in a truly free market, only those who can afford the safe option are protected. Everyone has a right to protect their children from lead poisoning, whether they can afford to or not.

    HOWEVER, that being said, I don’t think this should be applied retroactively. New clothes become used clothes, and as the CPSIA approved clothes make their way down the chain, those who can only afford to purchase used clothes will be protected. While I think this is good legislation, I think that not applying it retroactively would be a good compromise on the road to fully protecting children.

    If this does take effect, I ,for one, would love to see a blog on how to save money buying new clothes for kids.

  36. Valerie says:

    The law, as written now, applies to ALL products that ANY child under twelve may use at any time. Got that? Everything. Whether it has the slightest chance of having any lead in it or not, and whether or not there is any evidence of any child ever having been harmed by lead in that kind of product.

    There are 14 labs in the country to perform the tests. The tests must not be performed on the product itself, but on each component.

    Got money? You’re going to need it!

  37. Pam says:

    This law is putting many cottage industry (stay at home Mom’s) OUT OF WORK. Even though the products we make are safe (based on the safety data sheets we get from the manufacturers of our supplies) we have to prove they are safe after we sew them together! This cost is HIGH and basically puts us out of work. It is UNFAIR. I for one shop at the Goodwill. With 4 children we simply can not afford deparment stores and we are what you consider a “middle class family”! Goodwill donations are our main source of clothing!!! Back to the stay at home Moms ~ thousands will be out of work unless this law is amended. It is not that we want to “fly under the radar” so to speak, but a FAIR and AFFORDABLE way to show our products are safe would be needed! Right now, we fall under regulations just like a major company (Gymbore*) for example. We simply can not afford that when we make so few of a product. I make/sell hair bows. I use only polyester or nylon ribbons. the MSDS sheets from my suppliers show NO LEAD in these items. However, to test a 9.00hair bow …the cheapest quote was 300.00! Please support us who make handmade items! We need our work, it puts food on the table in many homes!

  38. I hadn’t heard of this one. Doesn’t government have bigger issues to deal with? I understand the desire to keep our children safe from lead and whatnot in their clothing, but is this even a reasonable undertaking?

    IMHO, I am quite sure this legislation came directly out of lobbyists for children’s clothing manufacturers to ensure that they can continue to make a profit when the trend is toward reusing/recycling.

    This is one of those things where the government could make us aware of any known risks and then let us, as consumers, determine what the appropriate course of action is for ourselves and our children. This kind of nanny legislation really irks me.

  39. mt says:

    I think this is going to hit frugal families harder than very low income ones. In my experience, almost every meal program or food pantry that I’ve been at has had at least some donated clothing. I wonder if local community groups are going to start ‘clothing pantries’ for children’s clothing.

    I agree with others: this law should not be applied retroactively, should have been grandfathered in, and I have heard nothing about it before.

    I wonder if there’s any possibility of it being challenged, at least in part, in the courts.

  40. mz says:

    I agree 110%. As a mother of three, who loves to dress her children, I frequent second – hand and thrift stores. I also donate and sell to second hand stores. Children’s items are so easy and cost effective to recycle… my money I make goes right back into the economy (and many times then some). The law should NOT be retroactive for lead… it will lead to so many things wasted. Give the industry a few years to catch up. I think testing is a good thing, but not at the cost of so much waste and so many businesses…especially with the jobless rate and the economy as it is.

  41. Jean says:

    While we worry about lead and phthalates in clothing (which is not meant to be ingested, BTW), we are forced to inject our children with 60+ vaccinations by the time they turn 18. These drugs have aluminum, mercury, phthalates, antifreeze, and countless other chemicals that cause everything from illness and autism to death. And they are mandated by our government.

  42. Jenny says:

    This law was put into place because of big toy manufacturers like Mattel and Fisher Price who brought in tainted toys from China. And, who really, is this going to benefit? The big toy companies (and clothing companies, which had less to do with it, so I can’t really blame them as much as the toy companies). It will hurt the natural toy industry as well as the etsy type mom and pop type sellers – where people turned when they wanted to make sure that things were safe for their kids! Way to go Congress! I’ve written my Senators and Congressional Rep. I urge all of you to do the same.

  43. Military Momma says:

    I agree it is a good idea just not a finished thought that seems to have been approved. I highly encourage everyone to right to your Congressperson immediately. You can do it online at the website below or get the address to mail them a letter.


  44. vicki says:

    Thanks for your article. As a manufacturer of children’s apparel, the law has a huge effect on my business. But I am also concerned on the cost for parents who will now be faced with sky rocket prices on ALL children’s products.

    By the way, the law is written to include distribution of any kind, yard sales, giving away, etc. The land fills will be piled high with clothing, that is just plain wasteful in my opinion.

  45. Myrinda says:

    As a retailer, my information is that I will NOT be able to even GIVE AWAY untested products after a certain date. Even GIVING THEM AWAY to charity or as a party gift could get me a big fat fine!
    So go over to Target or where ever today…take a look around at the size of the clothing and toy sections, not to mention the books, DVD’s/CD’s, computer games, shoes, sports equipment…YOU NAME IT! If it’s for kids under 12, it’s going to have to be tested or it’s going in the landfill?!?! Does this sound like a good idea considering our current economic and environmental concerns? I think not.

    Thank you for bringing this information to another group of citizens who might not have heard about it or even thought it doesn’t affect them. This issue AFFECTS EVERYONE!!!!

  46. Cynthia says:

    Thanks so much for posting this Trent. We operate two consignment stores as well as operate a thrift store to benefit small, local nonprofits.

    We in the resale industry are VERY concious of safety and industry professionals have always checked CPSC recall lists and advisories before accepting products either on consignment or received thru donations. Many of us are parents ourselves.

    This law, as written, and interpreted by the CPSC makes it illegal for ANYONE to sell any item for children under the age of 12 unless it is tested. It applies retroactively to anything made prior to February 10th.

    FOR PARENTS: you can not legally, according to this law sell your used items, the gifts you just bought your kid’s for Christmas, at a yard or garage sale unless they are tested. You, legally, can’t sell them on eBay or Craigslist. Thrifts and nonprofits, legally, can’t sell them. You also, because of the wording can’t simply give them away either.

    For our business, because the ruling that this is retroactive for ALL products, INCLUDING BOOKS and stuff your kid’s schools buy (a box of paper clips used in a science experiment will need to be tested but the exact same box from Office Depot will not), didn’t come until mid-November we have all been blindsided by this. The original law didn’t make it clear and, it didn’t make sense to us that it would apply retroactively. Big mistake. We are also placed in the position of telling parents that that sorry, the gift your in-laws gave you for your child that you already have one of that they bought February 9th? We can’t sell it for you because overnight it is illegal.

    What is particularly horrible, is to be willing to comply with the law and be given no timely information and useful, understandable, black and white on paper guidance about exactly how to go about complying. If we DO pay to have someone test stuff(no guidance on who that could be before some August date) – is that sufficient to comply with the law? There was a hearing schedule before Congress in December many were hoping would allow us a voice to express our concerns across a broad range of affected industries – and it was cancelled.

    BTW the labels will not be required to be affixed until late fall of 2009 – what do we do about stuff that DOES comply, HAS been tested but bears no label? How are we to tell?

    I understand that if you don’t THINK you are directly affected by this you certainly have other things to worry about and do. But perhaps, if you find a little extra time you might click to National Bankruptcy Day or the Handmade Toy Alliance Site, and if you agree, with a couple of clicks you can send a letter to your local legislators.

    Our landfills are going to quickly become one big ‘ole mess!

    Thanks so much for reading about this issue.

  47. Penny says:

    @ Brett re: shopping for baby stuff. BUY IT NOW. There is specific language in the bill re: used cribs, even. They cannot, in any manner, be “placed in the commerce stream” without proper certification that it is lead free.

    Etsy and ebay have been warned that they must make sure (????????HOW???????) that after 2/10/09 that things have the proper certification or the auctions/sales will be pulled AND that the AGs in each state will be notified so the person can be prosecuted. A lawyer for the CPSA has written that violaters can be “arrested on their doorstep.” (I’ll have to dig a little deeper to find that quote….I was chasing links like crazy this morning..)

    On the “sicko” side of it, ebay and etsy have also been warned that there will be those that will buy something that isn’t certified and then turn around and sue the companies for not making sure the item could legally be sold.

    As for children’s books, art supplies, science kits, etc, yes, the law APPLIES. Please check out this link: http://nationalbankruptcyday.com/
    and read about the cost of having a science kit tested.

    From science kits made by a small company to crochet booties that a WAHM creates to help put food on the table, yet another economic tsunami awaits.

    I participate in retail craft shows where the majority of vendors have items for children. My next show is in March. I wonder how many of them will be there, ignorant of this law or will have pulled out already.

  48. Katy McKenna says:

    My kids are all grown (29, 26, 24), so I was also unaware of this issue. However, an irony I must mention is that when mine were toddlers, sleepwear and certain other clothing for children began to be manufactured as “flame-retardant.” And it was WAY more expensive than the type of clothing you would dress your child in if you didn’t care whether they fried. ;)

    We could not afford such luxuries, but MAN were “slacker” parents like us made to feel like heels for not caring enough to clad our children in the proper PJs!!!

    It’s always something, and usually more than one thing. Heck, in the old, unenlightened days, we actually were trained to place our babies on their stomachs to sleep! Amazingly, most survived……

  49. Jeremy says:

    Just another example of a knee-jerk reaction to fairly isolated problems. And of course as other posters pointed out, the ones who stand to benefit from this are the same jerks who created the problem.

    It wouldn’t surprise me if they are the ones that lobbied for the retroactive rule to get rid of all competition for a couple of years. Second hand clothes are in huge demand now, and it has to be cutting into profits, especially in the current economy. Now the toy and clothing companies have to pay for this testing, raising their prices even more in comparison to used. They probably spent millions on lobbying to get it retroactive.

    We don’t buy much new and this law will hurt. And we are in a circle of friend having children within a few years of each other, so we do a lot of clothes swapping. If what Chynthia says is correct, we technically couldn’t even do that.

    I don’t usually get to peeved at the government, because I expect gross incompetence from them, but I am busy today contacting my elected reps and letting them know my displeasure with the retroactive part of this.

    If lots of folks do the same, maybe they will change that part of the law.

  50. Penny says:

    Piggybacking on Cynthia…

    The labels on clothing must also be PERMANENT..you can’t get something tested and attach a label that can be taken off.

    Ok, so now I’m thinking…what about the books in the libraries? bookstores… (Former elementary school librarian here…) School libraries, public libraries. Will they have to have yellow crime scene tape put around the children’s sections?


  51. Candy says:

    “For new products, this isn’t an issue at all and is in fact a good thing…”

    I have to disagree with you on that. Tell that to the 1000’s of small businesses (work at home moms and the like)that sew clothes and make wood or soft toys for kids that are perfectly safe that are not going to be able to afford to have everything they make tested. So they too will lose their businesses and income.

    I do agree something needed to be done to keep our kids safe, but the way the law was written is definately overkill and needs to be revised somehow.

  52. mes says:

    Yikes…I was aware of the law, but not that it applied to clothing. My kids are both clothed about 90% from Craigslist, garage sales, consignment stores. I can afford to buy new clothes for them, but I choose to take a more frugal path. What about those people who can’t afford to pay retail prices? Like other previous posters, I’m much more concerned about other sources of toxins.

  53. Thank you for writing a clear blog. However, you have a mistake in the law. The law does establish a lead content limit for all children’s products – those products intended for children under the age of 12 – as of 2/10/09. The CPSC has issued a ruling that this portion of the law applies to all children’s products regardless of when manufactured. Those manufactured after 2/10/09 will have to have general conformity certificates from the manufacturer or importer. But, those manufactured before 2/10/09 must still meet the lead content limit if distributed in commerce – which means all existing inventory must be tested too.

    However, the phthalate ban only applies to children’s toys & child care articles. Child care articles are those products intended for children under the age of 3 that facilitate sleeping and eating (sheets, sleepwear, bibs, etc.). BUT this part of the bill is NOT retroactive.

    So, the good news is that resale shops don’t have to test for phthalates. The bad news is that they still have to test for lead.

    I offer XRF testing services for lead content. I’ve been testing for manufacturers, distributors, retailers and even some resale over the last couple of weeks at a furious pace to keep up with demand. And I can tell you that while most fabrics don’t have lead, I have found relatively high lead in some items – brass belt buckles (at 17,000 ppm); zipper pulls (one at 32,000 ppm lead); decorative buttons; opalescent or pearl or shell like buttons; appliques and some red textiles. Also, a lot of vinyl products (since lead is used to stabilize vinyl). I tested one children’s purse that came back at 23,000 ppm lead.

    You might not be concerned about lead or phthalates in children’s products. Phthalates we get exposed to from so many sources – vinyl products and all scented products (beauty products & household cleaners). Perhaps the presence in children’s toys and child care articles isn’t so big of a deal compared to all the other sources. Lead, on the other hand, is so detrimental, with each exposure adding to the previous exposure, that perhaps we don’t want to add to the burden. On the flip side, I buy most of my children’s clothing at thrift stores. Luckily, I’ve got the option to test them.

    And that is the point to me. The mandated testing for items that are completely unlikely to have lead or phthalates is what is silly about the law. Let’s focus on the real potential sources. We don’t need to test cotton sheets for phthalates. The sheets might have formaldehyde (from the processing), but virtually impossible to have phthalates, unless coated with plastic to make waterproof.


  54. Jennifer says:

    The law, as currently written and interpretted will affect:
    1. Libraries – can they keep lending books to children that haven’t been tested?
    2. Daycares – how can they have untested items around unsuspecting children? I also believe they are specifically required to ensure they have no recalled items in use. This law effectively recalls everything that is not proven by testing is safe.
    3. Donations – how can you donated a potentially “hazardous” substance to another unsuspecting person even if they are low income?
    4. Thrift Stores & the Charities they support – they won’t be able to accept untested items.
    5. Resale & Consignment stores – they also won’t be able to accept and resell untested items.
    6. Small Retailers – don’t have the cloute to demand that manufactures accept returns for credit of their older items that haven’t been tested.
    7. All Manufacturers – they’ll have to expend huge sums of money to test all their items and accept back from the BIG Box retailers like Walmart their old stock that isn’t proven tested as safe.
    8. Schools – won’t be able to buy many items as their suppliers go out of business. Costs will go up exponentially.
    9. All consumers – not just consumers of children’s items – will pay huge increases in costs as most manufacturers make more than just children’s items, so they’ll seek to recoup losses by increasing the prices of all their remaining products.
    10. Home-made and hand-made manufacturers will be banned as they can’t afford testing.
    11. Landfills will be immediately overfilled with the dumped products – but will throwing it away even be legal since they are considered “hazardous”?

    It seems this law is so badly flawed that our only hope may be the supreme court throwing it out as unconstitutional. Please continue to spread the word to all – customers, store owners, lawyers, congressmen, governors, the president. This will criple our economy.

  55. Shannon says:

    According to the faq over at the official CPSIA website, at least the lead requirements aren’t retroactive.

    “The lead content limits for children’s products do not go into effect until February 10, 2009. As stated above, children’s products manufactured after February 10, 2009 (600 ppm), will need a general conformity certification based on a test of the product or a reasonable testing program for products and children’s products manufactured after August 14, 2009 (300 ppm), will have to be certified based on third-party testing of the product by accredited third party laboratories.”

  56. Kerri says:

    Thank you Trent for this posting. It’s refresing to see so many people commenting on this issue, and also to see that people do think the CSPIA is a bit overboard.

    I am the owner of a children’s consignment store. We also sell new products. I have absolutely no problem with carrying new items that have passed testing and are so labeled. But, I feel very bad for the over 5,000 consignors at my store who must now be told that they cannot sell their things anymore. Many of these people depended on the money they earned from the sale of those things to buy more clothing, shoes, and books for their children.

    I would certainly like to see the lead portion of the CSPIA be NOT retroactive, but to apply to items manufactured AFTER February 10th. But–this does not help the small toymakers in America, or the people who make beautiful handmade clothes for children. I feel there must be an exemption for the makers of these hand-crafted items also.

  57. Shannon says:

    Sorry hit the submit button too fast. It also claims in the faq that the other requirement is also only in effect for manufactured products starting on that date.

    “On February 10, 2009, DEHP, DBP, and BBP are permanently banned, and DINP, DIDP, and DnOP are banned on an interim basis, for children’s toys or child care articles as defined in section 108 of the CPSIA. The ban on the six specified phthalates in section 108 of the CPSIA only applies to products that are manufactured on or after February 10, 2009. For more information see the Office of General Counsel Advisory Opinion (http://www.cpsc.gov/library/foia/advisory/320.pdf).”

  58. Jay Barnson says:

    Wow. I had no clue. This is one of the worst of the nanny-state regulations I have heard to date. It’s absolutely ludicrous if it is as you explain it, trent. As a parent of two kids who get half their wardrobe secondhand, I’m very concerned.

    Is it too late to protest this or prevent it from going into effect? Or do we just have to wait until it goes before the courts?

  59. J C Sprowls says:


    Sew-in labels are permanent. What the consumer does with the garment after it leaves the factory is not the manufacturer’s responsibility.

    If you are inferring that all manufacturers should pony up significant sums of money to implement the ‘tagless’ labels like Hanes, you should be aware that phthalates (the other item being managed by the CPSIA legislation) are a prime component. Silk screening the brand and CCO information is also subject to the phthalates ban, as well.

    So… if you have other suggestions, we’re all ears.

  60. Barbara says:

    This new law is disgusting. I don’t even have children but I will be writing my congressman to voice my opposition. We were planning on trying for children within the next couple of years but that’s partly because I thought I would be able to rely on buying second-hand items for my kids.

    I do recognize that not being able to sell second-hand won’t last forever–eventually, tested products will make it back into the retail cycle as kids grow up after this law takes affect. But in the meantime?

    And I’m especially disappointed about toys. I’m not talking toys that have come out in the last few years–I’m talking about the toys that I grew up playing with in the 80’s like my little pony and G.I. Joe figures. Toys and games that actually made children use their imaginations, not dumbed down electronic versions of what you buy today.

  61. Tracy J says:

    YIKES! This is the first I have heard of this, does it apply north of the border in Canada?

  62. Kiki Fluhr says:

    Thank you so much for calling attention to this really important issue! I am a micro-manufacturer of handmade children’s clothing (just me, myself and I) and there is no way I will be able to comply with testing standards. Testing for one of my dresses will average $1500, and needs to be repeated for every different batch or color combination. Thousands of stores like mine will be closing our doors – and with it will go the oppurtunity for choice in purchasing.

  63. Marcy says:

    I have a childrens consignment shop, I will be out of business on Feb 10th if this is not ammended. I agree with Jules post. Toys are not a nessesity, clothing is.

  64. This law is yet another example of government overreach and the “do something” disease. Just because some toys from China had some lead the government rushes out to apply a hugely draconian law that affects everyone supposedly the same.

    Except that small businesses and handcrafted one person businesses can’t afford to have each of their items tested and therefore will go out of business. Do you realize how much it costs for testing EVERY item? It’s insane. $4,000 PER TOY!!! No independent crafter or artisan can afford that.

    Oh, but the “big” boys can do it and will do it and they will reap all the benefits.

    It’s not just thrift stores that this will affect. There are people out there who design and create items for children and sell these items to support their families.

    I am absolutely outraged by this inane legislation. The nanny state goes too far once again. I only hope that they will revise the law – because I do not think that they thought through the repercussions of it.

    I encourage folks to visit the “Help Save Handmade Toys in the US” http://sites.google.com/site/handmadetoyalliance/ to get a greater picture as to the impact this law has. And if you feel so inclined, write your legislators. I’ve already sent e-mails. I don’t sell or make kid’s items but I do make handmade items and it’s only a matter of time before Mommy Government tries to regulate me out of business too. :(

  65. Katy says:

    Second hand shops will not need to throw away or even give away their inventory of children’s clothing. They are more likely to sell the clothing by the pound to exporters who send it overseas.

    For example:

  66. Jade says:

    I wonder if someone in the clothing industry wasn’t lobbying for this… Well, maybe not lobbying for the testing, but they saw that the testing was gonna happen anyway so they lobbied to have this apply to used product sales as well, thus killing the used kids’ clothing market and forcing everyone to buy new clothes for their kids and not resell them or even give them away.

    Kinda like textbook publishers putting out “new” editions with new pictures, a CD supplement 99% of professors won’t use, just to increase the price of books and to make it more difficult for students to sell used books to each other.

    Good luck enforcing this at garage sales… Here in CA, you’re supposed to collect sales tax if you have a garage sale, or if you buy something at a garage sale and don’t pay sales tax then you’re supposed to declare it on your tax return. Fortunately for all the tax evading garage sale folk, the State Board of Equalization does not have enough people to police all the garage sales going on every Saturday. Like anyone working for the state would work on a Saturday anyway… But I digress. If the government can’t even keep up with sales tax evasion at garage sales, I wonder how they’re gonna keep up with the sales of untested kids clothing. Good luck!

  67. Kelly says:

    Very timely post Trent, we were just talking about this law over the holiday with our family! I will definitely make time to contact my legislators to tell them my opinion!

  68. katana barnett says:

    I know this comment will probably get lost, but if you’re interested in this matter from the lean manufacturer’s side (a designer-entrepreneur who aims to produce with the least waste) this would be the place to go: http://www.fashion-incubator.com/

    It shows that there’s issues with the law from the ethical manufacturer’s side too.

    I think, Trent, you did a good job showing the issues from a different perspective than Kathleen’s (the fashion incubator site author)

  69. lawyer says:

    #13, you made some good points there but kind of threw it all away with your catty remarks about the legal “profession”. If not for those so-called “professionals” none of the laws which protect you and your kids would exist, there would be no prosecutors to put pedophiles in jail, and innocent people would go to jail for crimes they didn’t commit, among many other negative effects on society.

    In any event, it is policy-makers and government officials that make these laws, not lawyers. Sure, the lawyers draft it, but they are told what to write.

  70. jreed says:

    Just about every hardware store large and small carries lead testing kits…little swabs that turn red if lead is present. Great for yard sale purchased pottery and furniture so I think it might work for clothes.

  71. Marge says:

    I think this law should be for new clothes only starting on that date and should not be on clothes that are used.

  72. Beth says:

    I’m not a chemist, a biologist, or any kind of scientist at all – but I’m a mother of two, and outside of toys I haven’t much considered the content of lead in my children’s (or my own!) books and clothing. (I have been more cautious since the lead/toy scandal with used toys.)

    It is one thing to have large corporations, who likely have the funding, do their own product testing; in fact, smart consumers already purchase products from companies who are self-regulating. But to ask resale shops, homeowners throwing a yard sale, or used booksellers to do the same testing is ludicrous. Why on earth would it make sense to toss perfectly good, albeit used, products in a landfill when so many of us on this planet are so deeply in need? I look at craigslist, ebay and Goodwill as ways to both reduce my spending AND my contributions to other environmental issues associated with producing new items and landfilling older ones.

    Many thanks, Trent, for bringing this issue to my awareness. I will be contacting my legislators as well.

  73. TPol says:

    Whenever I read something like this, I cannot help but wonder how I had survived the 70’s as a kid. We used to drink tap water, play with toys that were painted with God only knows what, rode in cars with no car seats, seat-belts, air-bags or headrests, sipped from each other’s cups and played with all sorts of coloring material. But, I have no kids so, who am I to judge these?

  74. Tara says:

    I am so shocked! How could the legislators forget about families with barely enough income to keep their kids clothed in second-hand clothes? Do they think it’s safer for these children to be improperly clothed for the weather, than to have possible lead and phthalates touching their skin? Exposure *does* cause health problems, the amount of these chemicals in clothes only *may*.

    I really, really hope Canada (my home) doesn’t have or plan on having such a law.

  75. This is very scary for small business owners. I have an Etsy shop and I’m going to have to close down the American sales (I live in France, so I will be able to sell to the rest of the world). But it will also have a high impact on Etsy, the site, as well as all the other companies that deal with companies that sell secondhand clothes. I agree with a previous commenter- the ripple effect is going to be enormous.

  76. Amy says:

    So, when are the cops going to come by yard sales and stop people from selling used toys and clothes?

  77. Teresa says:

    My first thought was that the government should let consumers make their own decisions on the issue of used clothing. But then I had a lot of little questions in the back of my mind: Maybe it’s okay to put myself at risk, but do I have the right to put my child at risk? How much of a risk are we talking about? If I choose to buy used clothing and they are contaminated with lead, does this only affect my child, or does it affect the children he or she is in contact with as well? Like cigarette smoking is the choice you make in the clothing your child wears affecting others? I guess I would need more info on all of that. But that said, I am not one to become overly concerned or freaked out about things, so I think they should continue to allow the sale of used clothing and allow consumers to make their own decisions. Would I knowingly buy clothing that I knew to be harmful to my kids? No. However, as a mother of four, I know how financially difficult it can be to buy four pairs of shoes, let alone four entire wardrobes! When my children were little I relied heavily on garage sales, resale shops and hand me downs from friends and neighbors. I don’t know what I would have done without them. This is a tough one!

  78. Mary says:

    I had my 4 year old lead tested at his annual checkup, then when I took my 7 y.o. in my Pediatrician asked me why. I explained concern about the recent toy hoopla. He told me if my kids don’t put it in their mouth it is “almost” imposible to be lead poisoned. For what it’s worth. Overkill is what our government is good at.

  79. tambo says:

    It’s not just clothes. What about craft fairs? Dolls and quilts and wooden toys… A home-based toy maker can’t afford the thousands of dollars to have their toys tested so they’re out of luck. How many kids in this country sleep with quilts made by someone and bought at a craft fair or quilt show?

    I think the law should be re-worked to only focus on corporations, not second-hand resellers and creators that are small businesses. Yeah, over-seas manufacturers made and sold crappy, poisonous toys and things, but that doesn’t mean the retired ladies crocheting afghans and sweaters need to lose their pin money, let alone folks trying to send off their kids’ out grown clothes and toys via garage sales and consignment.

  80. Amber says:

    wow. This is crazy. What about a child like I was, who at age 12 was 5 foot 6 and had to wear adult clothing. What does that mean since the child is still 12, but can’t fit into children’s clothing?

  81. Sounds like a totally stupid, short-sighted, heavy-handed, common-man-screwing law designed to benefit big business all in the name of saving the babies and apple pie. In other words, exactly what we should all expect from the representatives corporations have bought and paid for on the open market.

    I imagine though, that a law this obviously flawed will be amended just slightly before it takes effect. If not, and perhaps even if it does, we should expect to see toys and other children’s items marketed with labels declaring that they are not for use by children or some other equally transparent dodge of this absurd legislation.

  82. oneofnine says:

    I am completely horrified at this law; I had not even heard of it. I clothe my 3-month old and my 3 yr. old with 99.9% used clothing. I absolute cannot afford to buy new clothes when my kids grow out of everything within a couple months!

    At first I thought, “Fine, I guess we can still find used clothes on craigslist,” but some of the other posts have made it painfully clear that we won’t even be able to do that. Ok, now I’m scared! My sister has a baby four months older than my daughter and gives me all her hand-me-downs. Is that ILLEGAL? I honestly can’t even describe how this sort of governmental control freaks me out. Head for the mountains, everyone!

    Several others have commented about the abundance of chemicals in toxins in everything else we wear or consume. Dryer sheets actually cook the synthetic chemicals into our clothes, for crying out loud! Lysol Disenfecting Spray is one of the most dangerous things you can spray around your kids– but I don’t see Congress rushing around to put these huge companies out of business.

    Secondhand smoke, foods raised with hormones and pesticides, VOCs in paint, carpet, treated wood…if the government is going to regulate one industry, they are going to have to do it with ALL these industries…or better yet, BAN these stupid chemicals until they have been tested for human toxicity!!!

    I am forwarding this to ALL my friends and family so we can contact our local legistature and create the uproar desperately needed to knock some sense into Congress. It’s time for everybody to speak out, and speak out LOUDLY!

  83. Meg says:

    As a Canadian, I’m curious to see how this will impact Canadians. Will Canadians be required to follow this policy when selling to American buyers? This may be a help to Canadian home-based business owners while crippling Americans with the same business. That’s not right, but cash-strapped families will do what they need to.

    What about sites like Ebay? It’ll be a lot of work to police such an international site.

    I think it will be a mess while they implement this law and determine how it works in practice.

  84. Karen says:

    I can’t help but think that this is the Government’s way of trying to rescue several sectors of our economy without a true bailout. It seems that it may make more fiscal sense to sacrifice the little guy for the sake of big corporations. Check out the CDC website to see some interesting facts on lead poisoning: http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/surv/stats.htm You’ll note that the number of children with confirmed elevated levels of lead in their blood has dropped sharply since 1997. If there isn’t a dramatic increase in lead poisoning why exactly is this new law taking effect and so quickly? Stealth bailout perhaps? But maybe I’m just a conspiracy theorist.

  85. Maureen says:

    IMO these standards should be adopted gradually. Apply them to new goods first. It would only make sense to consider existing products a hazard if the problem was rampant. Have they tested to see how many clothes/toys/books etc. currently in use contain these chemicals?

  86. Anne KD says:

    Echoing several others commenting- I’m a crafter, there’s no way I can afford to test stuff that I make. If some guy makes a pine wood car he will have to test it. If someone like me makes a necklace for a young girl, I’ll have to test it. The law is going to kill small businesses. All the little toy shops out there that sell educational toys that you won’t find in ToysRUs- they’ll be done, gone. Crafters on Etsy, Ebay, Craigslist, all the local craft shows- these things are sideline businesses which will disappear. We need to get the law changed asap.

  87. LC says:

    I wonder if there can be tax breaks or refunds for small businesses who purchase some kind of lead testing equipment?
    I don’t know. I love to buy second hand things, I bought them for my children, but someone has to monitor their safety too. What is the answer?

  88. Sonya says:

    I totally agree this is an overstepping. Introducing new guidelines may be a wonderful idea- but scrapping all older clothing regardless of it’s potential to be safe or risky. And not to make light of contaminants, but there are so many much more significant sources of lead & more that the hand me down, already washed a few hundred times clothing in the closet is definitely not my biggest fear!

  89. Little She says:

    By forcing people to buy more new stuff this will help the economy. Good stuff.

  90. Sonya says:

    And tax breaks for testing equipment is a nice start- but still kills the individual crafters- No way could I test anything I made- hopefully stating I used “such & so brand safe yarn & fabric” or “eco friendly poison free timber” would suffice…
    What about those ‘bring you toys to the local mall & have them lead tested’ events? There’s been no buzz about this, therefore no local joints hosting lead testing of your clothes days- which frankly makes me think most of our stuff would pass.

    Again- just a rotten poorly thought out plan to “save us” from ourselves.

  91. Dave says:

    I can only imagine who is supporting such a policy, let me guess to name a few are probably, Osh Kosh,Gerber,Carter,Greendog, garanimals and probably every other kids clothing brand on the market. Im sure they hate hand me down clothing. This is going to boost their sales and im sure they are going to support it 100%. It sucks

  92. Karen says:

    I am a frequent patron of thrift shops, swap meets and garage sales and appreciate the information provided. We sure do live in a plastic lead filled environment. Regarding clothes, I almost always wash our new clothes before wearing, and always wash 2nd-hand – hopefully this gets rid of surface chemicals and dirt. I am more worried about the chemicals that we directly ingest from sprays, cleaners, additives to food and car exhaust. I guess we have to weigh all our concerns and eliminate the worst and most imminently dangerous ones first. Good luck, everyone.

  93. Nikki W says:

    Trent, it would be really helpful if you could do a followup post with suggestions for folks on how to take action (such as writing / emailing congress people, etc)on this.

    I grew up clothed almost entirely in items handed-down from relatives, or things my mother and grandmother made for us. What about items made by relatives? Is that next?

    What does that mean for the grandmothers of today?
    I do know this is going to impact the whole craft group (I sew)… For example, the women who make the Babywearers are heavily impacted.

    So nearly everyone I know will be in non-compliance in a few short weeks…. This would be a good place to help us politically!

  94. Trent,

    Thanks so much for writing this – I had absolutely no idea about this new law.

    This is seriously going to affect so many people that completely rely on used clothing – there’s so many people that simply can not afford to buy new.

    And I really really hope that if stores have to get rid of their inventory that it won’t go into a landfill! That would be so tragic when the clothing could just be given to charities.

  95. tjwriter says:

    I really wish lawmakers would think about the end results of what they are doing before they make these types of laws. And in this type of economy, too. How many ways can they screw people.

    A forum I belong to had a discussion on this including a link to another site with a letter to send to your lawmakers. http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=123812

    I hope they will reconsider the what they are doing.

  96. Zoe Lewis says:

    Thanks for letting me know about this. As a single mom of three kids, I buy hardly anything new except for food, so it would make things really hard for me. I do think that I would do the same for philosophical reasons even if I had more income, however.

    The resale industry is a huge segment of the economy, and getting rid of it would have drastic effects! To me, it seems akin to those who would kick out all the illegal immigrants without considering their contribution to the economy.

  97. jennifer says:

    Thanks for writing about this very important topic. I am actually a small scale producer of organic baby clothes – made in the usa. If you have time please write your lawmakers. It makes a difference. This law came from a great place but as a small manufacturer I will tell you if they don’t amend the law it will put most small businesses out of business (stores, manufacturers, contractors, tradeshows, marketing, etc). This is a fact, no one is overblowing the cost of testing. One example of how wrong and burdensome the CPSIA is: currently they require businesses who might use the same lots of fabric to test it over and over by sku – eventhough you can prove that fabric has no lead. On top of that most fabrics have no lead and especially organic fabrics follow a much stricter path and the lead allowance is almost non-existent. This does nothing to improve child safety. Small manufacturers have different processes then large manufacturers and the law should be written to reflect that. Lawmakers should focus on the risk a product actually has and create laws around that. Where you buy used or new clothing this will affect everyone in our communities if not ammended because of the large economic ripple effect when businesses close.

  98. Randi says:

    Please email your senator/congressman and let them know how you feel. They can turn this over or revoke it if they hear from enough people.

  99. LC says:

    I was thinking. If the law is changed so that used clothing is excluded, it seems to favor those who are frugal and even poor. Then, look at it this way. It may favor the wealthy, in that they will have the means to purchase items that have been tested, while those on a limited income will be purchasing untested items for their children. Therefore, the “at risk” population is even more at risk, right? The extreme would be that the rich children end up safer and healthier than the other children.

  100. Michelle says:

    It seems way extreme to me to throw out all those clothes. It is not like we threw out all cars without seat belts once seat belts became the law, or tore down every house with lead paint once it became code to elminate paint from lead. Both of those examples seem to pose a greater threat to a child’s life than the clothing issue.

    By the way, I have a great post on Thursday about organizing your hand me downs (or items purchased in advance), if you are feeling overwhelmed by the kids’ clothing.

  101. Can I ask why my comment has been taken out of moderation??? I’ve posted here in the past and it’s not like my comment is spam. :(

  102. Anna says:

    Beth mentioned the lead testing kits you can find in hardware stores as a possible method for the small business to use. The only problem with something that simple is that the new law says it has to be tested by a third party independent laboratory. And you can’t just have the components tested. You have to submit a completed item in every style you produce. So even if you use the same buttons and same fabrics on three different shirts, you have to submit those three shirts to be tested individually. Or to put it in the toy perspective, Fisher Price has to submit both the Dora Knows Your Name phone and the Elmo Knows Your Name phone even though they both use the same components and are more than likely produced on the same assembly line with the same materials. And it goes further than that. Every batch of product has to be tested. So if you make a run of 10 shirts in those three styles, one of each shirt needs to be sent off for testing with every batch even if you’re using components sourced from the same place.

  103. Carlos says:

    Hi Trent-

    I have to confess ignorance on thi, prior to your post. Our government does wacky things, and this appears to be another “uber-helpful” initiative that hasn’t been well thought out.

    On a different note, Trent, I wish you the best in 2009, and once again, have to thank you for writing this blog.

  104. I think this is ridiculous. How much lead could there be in used clothing that’s most likely been through the wash dozens of times? I read about possible effect it could have on folks who make handmade items. Sigh.

  105. steve says:

    @ the person who mentioned second-hand cigarette smoke, now I’ve read an article on “third-hand” smoke, which is the compounds which cling to clothes, walls, and car interiors where people have smoked. Apparently those are pretty nasty too (and smell nasty, too, I have to say, as nonmsmoker who has borrowed a smoker’s car for a day).

  106. Amanda says:

    I have a small business making handmade children’s clothing, and this law will affect me and many of the people in the handmade toy and clothing community. If anyone reading is interested or for more info on this topic, you can find it here:



  107. oneofnine says:

    Hi LC,

    While your post makes some sense, there are a couple points to argue. There are a lot of things parents wealthy parents can afford for their children, such as organic meat and produce. They can probably afford better medical care, which will also result in them being safer and more healthy. I am working two jobs right now in order to make a better income and move out of the middle lower class, and I certainly don’t want to be penalized for working hard, being successful and being able to afford some finer things for myself and my kids.

    If we’re outlawing all the products which present a risk to the low-income population, wouldn’t cheap fast food, cigarettes and alcohol be at the top of the list? These certainly present a health risk to lower-income communities, but try to take away those rights and see who comes out screaming about the violation of civil liberties.

    The question is this: would the “at risk” population be more at risk than they already are? We’re talking about secondhand clothes that have been worn and re-worn, washed and re-washed. It’s not as if we’ve had an epidemic disease which is directly linked to secondhand clothing, and now the tainted clothes are being pushed on a victimized population, while the rich can afford to buy new clothes so they’re being favored.

    I think the point many people are making is that they choose to buy secondhand clothes as part of a frugal lifestyle and having to purchase brand-new clothing for their children would definitely add a financial stress.

    The key issue here is CHOICE. We are exposed to thousands of toxic chemicals every day in our environment, but now the government is selectively choosing for us what they will allow us to be exposed to. This is highly suspect and I am sure somewhere, somehow, some people are set to get very rich off this law.

  108. Jillian says:

    It’s good to know all the little kiddies won’t have to worry about exposure to dangerous chemicals while they’re busy sucking on their bottles of coca-cola and downing their dunkin’ donuts…

  109. Quatrefoil says:

    Good grief! This really seems like throwing the baby out with the bathwater. To me it seems like the risk from nasty chemicals in children’s clothing is much less than the significant risk to poor children in being underclothed because their parents can’t afford to buy new clothes – and in the current economic climate that’s likely to be an increasing number. Has anyone quantified exactly what the risk is? Or is this just a scare campaign by clothing manufacturers? The law could exempt natural fibre clothing easily enough if there really is a significant risk. I really hope we don’t end up with this law in Australia.

  110. Battra92 says:

    Once again government paves the road to Hell with good intentions and we never judge them based on the results, just on intentions.

    By the way for those who asked about garage sales, considering that I saw lawn darts for sale at a yard sale a year or so ago and police have way too much to do besides check out yard sales for a law that most people are ignorant of I think you’ll still see the tag sale clothing business be in full swing.

    If Goodwills and such dry up for used children’s clothing, I’m sure people will find alternate methods.

  111. Fred says:

    yada yada yada… This is a hilarious post!
    1- This law applies for the testing of imported products.
    2- Its scope are clothes and toys intended for children under 12.
    3- It specifies the acceptable lead and phtalates levels as well as the paper trail required.
    4- It was signed into law last August thus giving 6 months to comply.

    more information here: http://www.wileyrein.com/docs/publications/13763.pdf

    Third party testing cannot be performed on second hand clothes because the testing is destructive and must be done on a sample (can you provide a sample of the item you want to sell!!??).
    One item in the law prevents the re-export of non compliant products save the approval of the country of destination.

    Apparently this law was enacted in reaction of the Mattel scandal where this US manufacturer neglected (looked the other way) to specify/enforce designs and specs and tried to blame its failure on its Chinese suppliers (Mattel subsequently apologized to the Chinese for this misconduct).

    In my view:
    – Person to person sales are not affected.
    – Craiglist & e-bay ought to consult their lawyers regarding their liability (being professionals facilitating the trade).
    – The question of the thrifts is more complex as they de-facto must assume product liability (they take ownership of the goods)
    – Not to worry about the landfills, there are plenty of countries in Africa, latin America, Central Asia & Asia that would be thrilled to help out with the sudden surplus of now possibly legally in the US unsealable second hand kids garments.

  112. Jamie says:

    This is just SO STUPID. First of all, there are many ways in which children may be exposed to poisons and toxins that are of much GREATER concern than clothing, such as : dental sealants, fluoride, “mercury” dental fillings, (yes, the silver dental fillings contain mercury, I am a dental assistant, and we have to go through so many precautions when we use and dispose of the silver filling material and mercury, it seems ridiculous that once it enters the mouth, it is purported to be “safe”) vaccinations, preservatives,artificial colorings and flavorings in food, cleaning products, cigarette smoke, car exhaust, unclean water tainted with drugs and chemicals, drugs prescribed to children unnecessarily, processed food, toxins in formula, etc. etc. !!!!!!

    All I can say is, OH BROTHER. And I know many people depend on buying used clothing for their children. Children’s new clothing is already expensive.


  113. Jamie says:

    On second thought, why don’t they just ban the use of lead and pthalates completely? Make them obsolete? Why test everything? Why not just eliminate the toxins?? OH BROTHER!!!!

  114. karen says:

    I’m so happy I don’t have kids these days!!! I can’t believe what I’ve been reading. I can’t believe our government is retroacting a stupid law like this. I think if they only make the law for anything new created after the start date of this law..then that is fine. Because one day the new become old and the old goes to resale shops. This is an awful law the way it is. It was a good idea gone bad..and taken to extreme. I grew up in the 60s and 70s and I turned out ok.

    Hey what about toilet paper???? Kids under 12 use toilet paper too..will that have to be tested too?
    Think about it…anything we use as adults a child can possibly use too..where will it stop?
    And what about paper towels, kleenex..etc..baby wipes???? These all will have to be tested too.

    Just a thought.

  115. Ken Deboy says:

    I’m amazed that so many are shocked by this. It’s a natural result of enough people voting for politicians who promise to “take care” of them. Nanny State Good, Personal Responsibility Bad. Who cares if a few toy makers are forced out of business as long as we are protected from ourselves?


  116. Looking at the CPSC website and actually reading the documents makes this even more upseting. This in essence is a retroactive law and even large corporations with big law firms and powerful lobbies have not been able to get anything changed. See this rejection in response to one law firm’s request on behalf of its clients. One client actually estimates the value of its affected inventory to be $500,000,000! http://www.cpsc.gov/library/foia/advisory/322.pdf

    I hope they do come to their senses and make this a phased in law.

  117. This is a hard one for me.

    As a member of The Compact, (buy nothing new) I am a huge proponent of buying used clothing. Especially for kids who often grow out of clothes while they’re still in perfect condition.

    However, my younger son suffered from lead poisoning when he was preschool age. We had the house tested, and did find some areas with lead paint, but they were not areas that he had access to. I have come to the conclusion that he must have sucked on some gum-ball machine charm or some such thing.

    He is ten-years-old now and doing fine. Although he’s smaller than most kids his age, and my theory is that he missed a few growth spurts when he was younger.

    He had to undergo multiple blood draws, and became phobic about going to the doctor. Something he still dreads.

    There does need to be testing of toys and clothing for children. Any parent can attest to how kids suck on necklines and sleeves, as well as toys. Even past that magical age of three when kids are supposedly no longer sucking on their playthings.

    I will not start to buy brand new clothing for my kids, as that is too extreme a measure. (A single pair of $40 jeans is about what I spend on each kid’s clothing per year.)

    I hope this issue gets addressed appropriately before the law goes into effect.

    Katy Wolk-Stanley
    The Non-Consumer Advocate


  118. J says:

    Please note that products sold after Feb 10th do not need to be certified to be phthalate free unless they were manufactured on or after that date, as Phthalate legislation is not retroactive (a response letter from the CPSC communicating this has been issued). Hope this helps a little bit.

  119. Karen Nardella says:

    I thankfully live in Canada. I have not heard of any such law being tabled for our country, thank goodness. I have 4 children – 25, 23, 19 and 15 – and would have never been able to clothe them without thrift shops and hand-me-downs. I will be writing to my niece in the States; she is having a baby in March. Maybe she can stock up now from thrift shops.

    I have been reading The Simple Dollar for over a year now and really appreciate the good service you provide in helping people with their financial lives.


  120. I was thinking. If the law is changed so that used clothing is excluded, it seems to favor those who are frugal and even poor. Then, look at it this way. It may favor the wealthy, in that they will have the means to purchase items that have been tested, while those on a limited income will be purchasing untested items for their children. Therefore, the “at risk” population is even more at risk, right? The extreme would be that the rich children end up safer and healthier than the other children.
    LC @ 8:08 pm January 3rd, 2009 (comment #49)


    That’s absurd. Do you REALLY think that used clothing are dangerous??? We’ve been wearing clothes for how long? And used clothing stores have been around for how long?

    Good grief. How did we all survive growing up without all these special government laws to “protect us”?

    I think these laws do more to keep special interests and government officials in business than actually protect us.

    Oh … I see that my 2nd comment asking about moderation is approved … and yet my original comment is STILL in moderation. Weird.

  121. Quirked Eyebrow says:

    I’m sitting here in the midst of a society that is toxic with everything from a plethora of chemical additives in the food to grossly polluted air from industries and overcrowded roads thinking that people who make laws like this a) don’t have to count their pennies to survive and b) don’t have a grasp on the burdens faced by so many of their constituents and c) don’t have a grasp on reality at all.

    It’s a bit like a really bad road accident ~ you know you shouldn’t gawk but you can’t help it.

  122. Lynne says:

    I had not heard of this law. It is absurd to include anything manufactured prior to the enforcement date. I myself am not a crafter, nor do I buy children’s clothing from a resale shop (my kids are grown),but I can see this will be a serious problem for many people. The government really needs to step back and look at this from the perspective of the people they serve. Taken at face value it looks like it is a great idea, but in reality it has some very obvious flaws.

  123. Wow, this is big… I agree, this looks like corporate meddling to me. Likely another example of corruption in our government. Oh well, hopefully it won’t be allowed to continue in its current form.

  124. Mom says:

    Used clothing should be exempt. In an effort to protect, they are creating a harmful situation. It’s a knee jerk reaction, something that is all too common. I think the best thing we can do, besides contacting our legislators, is to send Trent’s link to others and spread the word about this problem.

    It would be appropriate to do a public awareness campaign for the benefit of stores and parents, explaining what items might be at risk. But, a blanket rule against all used clothing is wrong, and it needs to be changed. I prefer used clothing for our family for frugality, to save resources, and also because I want to avoid the chemicals that give new clothing that horrible smell. I think those chemicals are a health risk. I prefer to purchase used items that have been washed many times or aired to outgass, and it should continue to be my right to do so.

  125. Liz says:

    This is absurd. I agree with a previous poster, if you could follow this up with ways that we can do soemthing. This law cannot pass..the damage will be unimaginable. Where do you draw the line?!

  126. bliss says:

    Oh Lord. A rock and a hard place…

    Well, my daughter no longer wears children’s sizes but I feel for all the moms out there who kids still do.

    If I had not been able to buy good second hand clothes for my daughter for all those years, I’d have been living on the street.

    Clothing is just too expensive.

    I guess too many “regular” stores are going out of business and this is a way to force many consumers right back into department store lines.

  127. Liz says:

    Check out this link. They are open for comments until Jan 30 regarding the acceptablitily of the use of components that have been tested and certified. This is HUGE for the handmade industry. If this can be adjusted this would mean that crafters would be able to purchase textiles ect that have been tested and certified and use those for their goods. This would keep the craft industry alive.

    Please follow the link and email your comments


  128. DrPr says:

    I wonder if this is too much of a Chicken Little reaction. It is amazing how much children’s clothing is given away every month. After all, kids grow quickly. Thrift stores will always have new clothes coming in. There may be a break in donations, but it won’t be a permanent one.

    Sometimes protectionism can go too far, but the poor have always been among the least protected; it is they who more often resort to thrift stores and other methods of saving money (living in affordable but toxic neighborhoods, for example). Why expose these children to more toxins if we can avoid it? I am not against the testing law, and I hope that entrepreneurs can find ways to test for lead in an affordable way.

  129. Isabelle says:

    The legislation is in itself a good thing. However, to legislate that clothes made the day before are now illegal is a nonsense. Usually there is a period of grace which would allow the sellers of used items to continue their business.

    My guess is that the makers of legislation have no idea how many people actually buy and use second hand children’s clothes. It will be something they just don’t do!

    Maybe, if the reaction is great enough, there could be a caveat added to remedy the problem. The legislation was most likely started and researched before the current crash happened. A new Administration could well be cautious and not want to upset those who wish to live thrifty lives!

  130. kim says:

    This requires action from all of us! Here is what I did after reading this post

    1) I went to this web site http://capwiz.com/americanapparel/issues/alert/?alertid=12274476 to fill out any easy letter to my elected officials about the matter.

    2) I sent an email to the tips section of my local television news station – I included links to the Consumer Product Saftey Comission, Trent’s blog entry and a few other articles from the web.

    This is a PR issue. If we can get the word out on the devastating effect that this will have on the economy, our officials will have to listen.

  131. Sharon says:

    Jullian said:
    It’s good to know all the little kiddies won’t have to worry about exposure to dangerous chemicals while they’re busy sucking on their bottles of coca-cola and downing their dunkin’ donuts…

    As someone who has lived in a very low income area for a years now, I want to say I have never seen any soda or kool-aid type drink in a baby bottle. I’m sure that government programs like WIC may have something to do with it. (why use sugary drinks when you can get formula/milk for free.

    Dunkin Donuts for older kids though…..

  132. Wendy says:

    To Ken (comment # 58), I always laugh when I hear the term “Nanny State.” Nothing has brought us closer to a Nanny State than “The Patriot Act,” and illegal wiretapping. No, this law which was voted on several months ago likely has more to do with lobbying by clothing manufactures. Profits made on new clothing are down as more people turn to consignment shops and thrift stores for their textile needs. If this law was really about protecting the consumer, the chemical fluoride (used in rat poison, fertilizers, and banned in many countries) would not be added to our drinking water and dental hygiene routine, the base of food coloring dyes would not be made from coal tar, and cancerous agents would not be found in the ingredient label of most drugstore lotions.

  133. Let’s not forget that the reason such a law was passed was probably that in our era of cheap clothing people have been cutting corners and selling stuff that is outright nasty. Overreaction, probably, but not to nothing (I imagine)
    I suspect the better solution is to figure out how to make that testing cheap, or offer some exception for certain kinds of business.

  134. Elizabeth says:

    Thanks for the heads up. I think I’ll head out to Children’s Orchard over the next couple of weeks and stock up on the clothes that I would have bought for my kids over the next couple of years, now. It is crazy to buy kids brand new clothes that they are going to outgrow in 3 months. Used kids clothes is such a huge and useful industry for families, it just kills me to think that this avenue is probably going to be cut off.

  135. Anthony says:

    I am absolutely outraged at this action. Why must the government put their fingers in every little area of society? I for one believe in less government and in this case it should be an individuals choice whether to buy used clothing or not. As for requiring all new clothing having a requirement to be tested will only increase the cost. As others have commented earlier how effective will this process be? How many will actually know what this new certification means (or at least heard of it before they purchased the clothing?) This sort of action should be left up to the market NOT the government. If clothes makers want to form an organization to test their clothes an elect to have their products tested, fine. The only involvement government should have is to enforce stiff penalties to those companies that cut corners and use harmful materials which are then proven to have caused harm.

  136. Thank you for spreading the word to your readers. Labeling is great but are you aware of the expense that it costs to test these new items? Testing alone is going to shut the doors to many businesses.

  137. steve says:

    @ “It’s a natural result of enough people voting for politicians who promise to “take care” of them. Nanny State Good, Personal Responsibility Bad.”

    As far as I’m concerned, proper regulation *is* an appropriate role for government. It’s not a simple issue of “Nanny State Bad, Red Blooded Americans Good”. I for one do not want, as we had happen in China recently, poison in my milk powder because of lack of oversight and accountablility./

    The issue in this case is not that regulation should not be strengthened, but the language of the law and how it is applied in practice. Given that the threat of these chemicals is not currently dire, making the law retroactive is overkill and the law needs to be modified. Chemical free in 10-20 years is a reasonable goal in this case, and could be assured by simply applying the law to new products and perhaps by exempting smaller producers from some of the requirements.

  138. Caroline says:

    Since perfume and cologne contain phthalates, are they going to regulate parents buying those things too? If exposure to questionable things is really the issue here, I’d actually be more concerned about what pregnant women are doing, since their behavior has been shown to affect a person’s overall health and abilties throughout their lives.

  139. LIndsay says:

    Clothes, I don’t worry so much about. By the time I have children, the used clothes will be the “safe” clothes. If that mattered to me in the first place, which it doesn’t. I don’t have children yet, but I have always thought I would buy them toys that are handmade, at least in a much higher ratio to megatoy store plastics. But now I am worried that they won’t even be available. I hope this will be fixed before this goes in to effect. I love etsy!

  140. M says:

    Sent a link to this article to everyone in my address book. I hope everyone else does too.

  141. Jen says:

    What about cloth diapers (which I buy)? What a terrible thing this is going to do to all of the wonderful crafty men & women out there! Personally, I’d rather move to another country than write my representative. This sort of thing seems so ridiculous and yet similar issues keep coming up… Government interferring in the most ridiculous ways. I agree with the poster regarding growing up in the 70’s. With all the things people are concerned with now-a-days you’d have to wonder how civilization has survived this long. While I avoid chemicals in my food (as much as possible), it’s nearly impossible to avoid them elsewhere. While I don’t smoke & manage to keep my kids away from second-hand smoke (as much as possible) there’s still pollution from factories, emissions from cars… I mean, it’s IMPOSSIBLE to shield yourself from every harmful thing in the world. And I’d kill myself trying. There are pressing issues out there than what’s in my closest or my kid’s closet. It’s time we focus on those issues and things as ridiculous as this. If the government doesn’t see how this will effect all of society, they all ought to be fired and replaced!

  142. Mike says:

    Thanks for the informative post Trent. I imagine most parents will just continue doing what they’ve done for years- both passing on and receiveing “hand-me-downs” from friends and family without hoopla. I can’t honestly imagine the Feds prosecuting a Mom for giving cousin Johnny their kids’ used jacket or jeans. That portion of the law is nearly unenforcable. My son has twice as many hand me downs as he has new clothes and I couldn’t begin to tell you which is which by going through his closet.

    Resale stores may be in a different spot altogether but I really feel this law is targeted at large manufactures who primarily import clothing and goods from countries that are a little less concerned about lead and chemical contamination than we are…

  143. Dreamskape says:

    Yes.. another FINE example of the ridiculous OVER regulation we see in this country.

  144. Devil's Advocate says:

    Just wanted to propose a counterpoint to the “exempt resellers” idea:

    What’s to prevent manufacturers from dumping untested products into the used/reseller market? Plato’s Closet (albeit for teenagers) comes to mind – they only accept styles current within the past year or two, so it would be easy for an unethical manufacturer to push its products into this type of store.

    Think about how many people still don’t realize that the goods at “outlet” stores in the outlet malls have generally never seen the light of day in a retail store…most companies now manufacture goods specifically for the “outlet” store. A great example is Brooks Brothers – retail = Made in US, outlet = Made overseas. There’s only a couple true outlets, and those are in hidden locations well away from any outlet mall.

    It would be altogether easy to exploit a loophole allowing used goods to remain untested to dump new untested products into the supply.

    I don’t see a way to win with this law, so I’d go for labeling requirements. Maybe then we’d get back to normal cottons and linens for our clothes.

  145. mary e. says:

    This is the beginning of understanding how vulnerable we are — and how chemicals that can affect people and are introduced to the most unsuspecting of ways: “school” backpacks, charms on shoes,etc.

    I have a nephew on the Autism spectrum, and though they don’t know what causes Autism, they do know that there is exposure to something that triggers or unlocks it, and there have been lots of consideration given to pesticides. But they still don’t have an answer.

    Lobbiests rule on Capitol Hill and the FDA has no teeth. Wealthy senators and congressmen who send their kids to private school would have no clue about the “used clothing” market, but we do know that if you can scare parents, it’s a highly effective motivation and that parents will do anything and spend anything to protect their children.

    This will likely collapse the used clothing market, though, and put a lot of purveyors out of business, for what exactly?

    With anything, if consumers don’t buy it, it doesn’t exist. Purchasing power is real power, or choosing not to purchase or “boycott” is also power. Speaking up is power — let’s do more of this. Write your Senator or Congressmen today!

    There are two people I’d like to hear speak on this issue:

    1. Ralph Nader, Our greatest consumer advocate ever — regarding safety and pro-consumer rights. In this arena, he’s truly a hero!

    2. Michael Moore, who has the firsthand 411 on how politicians are bought and sold by lobbiests, and our “best interests” are a joke!

    I would ask — what’s really going on here? The used clothing market is also a group who don’t have resources to “fight back” — There’s not Wallmart, but small boutique retailers — and parents making it on a tight margin.

    Like Michael Moore pointed out in his healthcare documentary, Sicko, if you are instilled with fear, then you will keep everything status quo — won’t raise your voice to instigate change or jeopardize your hard fought place in the cog.

    I don’t mean to be paranoid, but there is a history here folks that’s been spelled out very clearly by these two brilliant and caring consumer advocates in numerous books, and well received documentaries. We must think for ourselves!

    Of all the concerns regarding exposure to toxic substances, this is the top of the list? Used clothing stores for kids?

    I’m not saying there isn’t a problem here — and that we should think this only a scam.

    There were issues past safety issues like re-sale of cribs and other collapsable items for children that had been pulled from the store shelves, but were still available in kids re-sale stores. Because of this, places like GOODWILL will no longer accept childrens’, beds, cribs, swings, ect. for legal reasons, and they’ve done this for years.

    One last thought:

    Living simply, using vinegar and baking soda to clean the house, buying organic or growing your own food, questioning the products we bring in our home and opting for a “clean/greener” solution — it’s not just Hippie Dreamin’ here. It makes a lot of sense all the way around. Vote with your pocketbook and be vocal about concerns!

    We do have power, after all.

    Thanks for reading,

    Mary E.

  146. SS says:

    Hi Trent,
    That is a change. There must be a significant reason why this is taking place. If this law will
    save children from lead poisoning I think it is good. I think they do need to clean up any contaminates. This is good for the next generation. It will take a while for the new clothes of feb. 09 to become used. It will cycle again. There must be a reason. Thanks for info.

  147. Tamara says:

    Let’s do some more fact-checking? I’ve been reading the FAQ and slogging through the details of the bill at the consumer product safety commission. In summary, products *manufactured* after 2/10/2009 are impacted, and will be labeled as tested.

    I haven’t seen any requirements for changes to the second-hand market. I did find one newspaper article that alleged this is the case.

    But everything I see at the CPSC discusses manufacturing and labeling, not retail. Perhaps any item manufactured before 2/10/2009 is still OK to sell, and any item manufactured after that date is labeled anyway?

    Cost to manufacture goods will go up, so we can expect higher costs for products certified to meet the requirements for lead and phthalates. Small artisans will be hurt, since the cost of testing is high and they sell a smaller number of each toy.

    I agree there is an impact. I’m not sure the second-hand clothing market is in trouble though.

  148. stef says:

    The CPSIA web site FAQ has this to say about clothing:
    Q. Will infants’ crib bedding, blankets, bath textiles, and apparel fall under the heading of “durable product”?
    A. No. Congress did not define the term “durable,” but it is commonly understood to mean able to exist for a long time without significant deterioration. Cloth/textile items are generally not considered to be durable goods. None of the items Congress specified in section 104 as examples of durable products are items made entirely of cloth, rather they are primarily made from rigid materials (e.g., cribs, toddler beds, high chairs, strollers, bath seats).

  149. Beth says:

    I think Jullian’s point regarding Dunkin Donuts and Coke, etc., was more to make the point that the government allows those types of food to be produced, and does not prevent them being given to children or adults – not necessarily that lower-income people are giving those things to their children.

    I have to agree that in this case the government appears to be going too far. However, if (as stef stated above) clothing is not included in this law, I’ll back down a little. Still – who hasn’t used a previously-owned crib, high chair, stroller, etc.?

    Would love to see a follow-up post. Thanks!

  150. Shevy says:

    This is insane. I’m sure conspiracy types could put forward all kinds of suggestions about big companies conspiring to require everyone to buy all new clothing in order to maximize profits. The net result is anything but “green” and is very regressive.

    I hope nothing similar is planned for here in Canada.

    And, as an aside to Sharon (above), perhaps that is the case where formula is free (and where there are programs such as WIC and food stamps) but I can recall young mothers I knew when my adult kids were young who fed their babies KoolAid the last 3 or 4 days before payday because they were broke (or at least broke enough only to have money left for cigarettes!).

    It goes without saying that they didn’t breastfeed. In fact, the husband of one of them objected to my nursing my baby in their home (discreetly and modestly). Why? Because I didn’t whip out my breasts at any other time, so it was “abnormal” to do so just to feed the baby. That rationale (irrationale?) still stuns me 30 years later.

  151. Michelle says:

    Wow! Thank for this….does this also apply to used clothing sold on eBay?

  152. Cynthia says:


    There are TWO main issues addressed by this law. The quotation made in COMMENT #67 PERTAINS TO PHTHALATE used to make plastic less ridgid and the answer #67 quoted is from THAT portion of this law.

    CLOTHING IS AFFECTED BY the LEAD provision of the law – if you read further on the CPSCIA FAQ. Or go to the best place to easily understand this law – http://www.smartmama.com. Jennifer is an environmental attorney and engineer and she explains it ALL very well.

  153. Precious says:

    This was not done to protect Main Streets interests. This was done to protect retail stores and sales tax revenue. Write your Congressmen and Senators and tell them you want this bill overturned.





  154. Cynthia says:

    Pardon me – in my distress at the misleading reference in #67 I gave the wrong web for http://www.thesmartmama.com


  155. Reagan says:

    Have you even bothered to READ the law? Any of you? The reduction of lead levels and the ban on the 6 phthalates only applies to goods manufactured on or after Feb 10, 2009. Every other toy/clothing/furniture has to conform to the law that was in effect on the date it was manufactured.

    How about NOT spreading fear? Read and understand the law you’re reporting on instead of just rehashing gossip.

  156. kodijack says:

    1) They will never be able to enforce this law on a local level.

    2) It will either be adjusted or ignored. The backlash of one news story where thousands of pounds of used clothing are thrown in the dumpster in the landfill will be enough to cause enough public outcry to change the wording.

    3) To cause liability under the law you must have caused harm. That harm must be proven. There is no way that any kid is going to get lead poisoning from a shirt.

    4) I will continue to monitor the local thrift stores in my local area. If they do start discounting stuff I am going to load up my children for the next five years. Sweet!

  157. Marsha says:

    Clearly Congressmen and women are not shopping at thrift stores! Sheesh, this is going to be a mess. I expect there will be loads of small businesses (for profit and otherwise) having to shut down because of this.

    I’m glad I read this post. I was thinking of trying to make a little extra $$ this year by making children’s clothes and selling them at consignment shops. So much for that plan…

  158. Kelly says:

    Unbelievable! I think there are many other issues bigger than this to worry about. Our government doesn’t seem to notice that we are in a recession and out of work! I guess we will all have to wear potato sacks again….

  159. Andie says:

    For direct information on the bill, HR 4040, follow this link. http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h110-4040

    Apparently, for our House of Reps, the bill was so uncontroversial NO ONE voted nay. 13 Senators voted nay when it came to the Senate. The bill moved quickly and was a shoo-in.

  160. Carol says:

    I imagine a lot more children’s clothes will be offered on the freecycle lists. After all, it’s free, not being sold, and it would be impossible to police.

  161. DrFunZ says:

    There will now be a blackmarket for children’s clothing in America. RIDICULOUS LAW.

    OK, so 72 people reponded to this post.


  162. Michelle Thomason says:

    Is this really true??? I have a fairly good side business going of selling my daughter’s outgrown clothes and buying used clothes for her very inexpensively at local consignment stores. ( In Gainesville, FLorida) Is this happening everywhere in this country or just in Iowa??? Thanks, Michelle Thomason.

  163. Ilah says:

    Another stupid law like removing cyclamates from diet soda 40 years ago–one would have had to drink something like 5 gallons of soda a day, every day to mimic the carcinogenic properties of the mice-based research. Now cyclamates are considered safe, although they have not reappeared in diet soda. Remember when eggs should never, ever be eaten because they were so high in cholestral? Now, health sites recommend eating them several times a week as they are excellent sources of lo-cal protein.

  164. Janet says:

    no one said we can’t buy paper plates and get the clothes and books for free…I saw this on another post…very smart…if there is a will there is a way.. I am very upset over this stinking law…I hope there is some way “we” can fight it.

  165. I’m with all the other commenters who think the law should be adopted for new goods if this is really important, but older goods should be exempt. I have a baby on the way, and I thank God every day that secondhand baby stuff exists. I mean, have you seen the prices on strollers and the like? We’re lucky that a coworker of my husband is done having kids and gave us all sorts of lovely things, but not everyone who can’t justify buying new baby stuff is so lucky. Way to penalize the poor and the frugal, USA!

  166. thomas says:

    grandfather the old clothing in. It’s about time people begin to realize that governments aren’t looking out for your children, they are grasping at straws to hot topic issues that make them likeable for elections.

    Everyone should be writing their legislators, telling all their friends to write, and really push for sense and sensibility around these issues.

  167. Jihan says:

    This situation sounds a overkill. Honestly, I do not have kids but I plan to have 5 of them, God willing. I think it’s just another excuse for big businesses to sell their items faster, like someone else here said. I mean safety is important, but when they discovered toys had lead, how long did it take them to realize that? I could be wrong but toys that have been manufactured that way for many many years are all of the sudden dangerous? It’s amazing.

    And for clothes, most baby clothes I’ve seen are mostly cotton anyway.. I think those thrift stores and second hand clothing stores should just get the testing for free. And does this apply to all clothing or just childrens’ clothes? Because if so, we should be worrying too. I’d feel awful because I have a big bag of name brand clothing that I was going to sell on Craigslist and it could almost be too late. A lot of people sell clothes on Craigslist.

    What kind of economy do they think we’re in right now? People are losing jobs and getting poorer, meanwhile they are taking away all the goodness of inexpensive shopping for average people like me.. my family.. my friends.. It’s such a big shame. So much for saving on babys’ clothing.. and I agree with a lot of comments here. Someone said that children are exposed to a lot other chemicals and dangers around the house and outside, so lead harming? I don’t remember being harmed by lead when I was little and I’m only 18 years old. I was being harmed from my parents smoking!.. And from the damn pollution outside.. There wasn’t a year that passed by ever since I moved into my neighborhood that a house nearby didn’t need constructioning.

  168. Heather says:

    Ironically, second hand cotton clothing is safer because it has been washed so many times. (pesticides) I’m going to write my congressperson TOMORROW. Argh.

  169. Lori says:

    I just wrote to my Congressman and one of my Senators about this, asking that the law be reworded to apply to products MADE after February 10, not SOLD after that date. Nearly all of my 5 month old son’s clothes are secondhand. We got his car seat & 2 bases from my cousin when her son (14 months older) out grew it. That alone saved us $200. Like a previous commenter said, there will now be a black market for kids clothes and toys.

  170. Dave says:

    Couldn’t thrift shops just post a sign for all items that states something like “all prices for children’t items are for a suggested donation amount – no donation required”. In this fashion, no items are being sold, rather children’s items would be given and the customer would be making a free will donation.

  171. Dave says:

    OK – so comment #67 shows that this won’t effect clothes. Good

  172. NorCalRN says:

    First, I think the basic premise of this legislation is good. It will get our population to (hopefully) pay a little more attention to what we are spending our money on and what is in all of it! Also, hopefully this will bring change in the form of fewer chemicals in all of our clothing going forward.

    Secondly, I think all of us who shop in thrift/consignment stores, craigslisters, Ebayers and crafters need to CALM DOWN. As someone pointed out- the gov’t can’t possibly police all of the venues for buying used clothing and hand-crafted goods. Yes, it may be technically illegal- but get real. I would still buy secondhand goods I needed for my family, legal or not. Arrest me for clothing my children.

    Lastly, someone mentioned never having seen low-income parents feed babies coke or kool-aid in their bottles. As a Nurse, I have to comment. Look at the amount of pure sugar in APPLE JUICE, then look around again. Almost every mom I have ever met, regardless of income level, has put straight, undiluted apple juice in their child’s bottle. Every dentist’s nightmare, I’m sure.

    Trent, thanks for the heads up on this. It is very interesting, but I’d like to add that it will not change my or my family’s shopping habits one bit. :)

  173. laura says:

    Well this is just another way to much Goverment interference (spelling?) can cost the rest of the country more than it helps. Sure anything that is new should be tested, or if the company that has sent some things with lead in them two strikes and they are out! Yet if it is used should we just send everything back to them…(the other countrys) and let them deal with their own mess.
    I shop at resale shops all the time and can not even wonder how it would be with out children things…..I do not have little ones still, but I do have some of my neices children that I watch from time to time. I check out things for them and buy them stuff for my house all the time.
    I wonder if a resale shop sold a Bag lets say and that was a set amount and then the “bag” could be filled with things….for free that is…
    there has to be away around this, I wonder what it would be like for some of these law makers to live in Our world, and want to change things for the better, they would be lost! not a clue!
    just maybe they will have this fixed!

  174. Carmen says:

    Am I really alone in having never put juice in a baby’s bottle, let alone undiluted?

    I still dilute my own and my children’s juice now, yet one of them protests to the (weak) taste every time! And my husband thinks I’m crazy for doing it. But still, Mum knows best. :)

  175. A says:

    I’m pregnant with my first child and work for a non-profit thrift store. I think this law is unreasonable and I was completely shocked when I read this. I hadn’t heard of it until now. I know families who come in and shop on a normal basis for just clothing for their children. I have already started buying clothing from thrift stores for my baby on the way, my husband and I can’t afford to buy all new clothing. I feel they have over stepped the line this time and what ever happened to the freedom this country was founded for? This will hurt the economy and make it worse than it already is. What’s next?

  176. Brynna says:

    Funny, I went out to the government website and I saw *nothing* like what is being posted here. From what I could glean from all the legalese, they have basically amended the original act from 1953 (yes, that’s when the original went into law) to clarify *** what is currently being practiced by the clothing industries to begin with. *** Read that again.

    The final conclusion was that by and large the clothing industry would not be greatly affected, and there would be very little environmental impact.

    Here’s the website: http://www.cpsc.gov/index.html

    Go ye forth and educate yourselves! :-)

  177. Jennifer says:

    Please please please check your facts. This is NOT true and says so on the CPSC website. Clothing is EXEMPT from this new legislation:


  178. Ian P. says:

    I’m thinking that “swap clubs” will spring up, or even “swap stores”. Churches, thrift stores, or Goodwill could post flyers for swap club meetings where parents show up and swap clothes for free.

    A used clothing store could start up a swap club and charge a small fee. They wouldn’t be selling the clothes so it should be legal.

  179. Michelle says:

    Responding to NorCalRN’s post….
    While the government cannot police all sales of secondhand clothing and home made goods. eBay can (and will) so those of us who make a living off of clothing resale (on eBay or in brick stores) would have a very hard time if this law was as being stated here. All of Etsy is homemade goods , with a high percentage being goods aimed at children and a large number of people that earn their income by making these goods.

    That said I think some of this is internet hype. I contacted my congress person as this directly affects me (I resale clothing on eBay) and the form letter response I got indicated that it will not affect resale of items already tested by the original maker (ie; the clothing mfg). So if this is true, it will not affect me. BUT very well may still affect the people making home made.

    Finally, I have NEVER put juice in baby’s bottle. (actually neither of my children were ever given a bottle of anything :)

  180. iowamommy2six says:

    I totally agree with your thoughts! This law will only hurt the economy even more with small businesses that cater to children going out of business! It will hurt the environment as well since all items made prior to Feb 10 will have to be disposed of. My thought is that this law is for items made in the USA. What about all items made elsewhere? Isn’t it those products that have had the high lead levels? I help support my family by selling my children’s used clothing on Ebay. I have sent my concerns to my congressmen. I really don’t see how this law can be enforced as it is. It will have to be amended to be more specific.

  181. Carmen says:

    I take issue with your statement: “For new products, this isn’t an issue at all and is in fact a good thing.”

    This is a big issue for small-time artisans and crafters. If I go to a local craft fair to find hand-carved wooden toys or hand knitted children’s clothing – will I still be able to do that? This law could really impact many individuals and small businesses that couldn’t afford the testing. It’s incredibly disturbing to me.

    The laws should clearly focus on big systemic issues and leave caveats for used and hand-made items.

  182. Angie in Ohio says:

    Oh, I am so angry over this! My husband and I have 3 children under the age of grade school kids.. we do the majority of our shopping for jeans and such at thrift stores.. kids clothing is very expensive! I find name brands like Limited Too, Gap and Childrens Place constantly at thrift stores here in our area.. it saves me a HUGE amount of money.. actually, I am BEYOND furious on this!!! Sure we can garage sale these things.. but tell me, how do I know where to find the sizes I need when I dont know the people who live in the houses, right? It has always been so much easier to shop at Once Upon a Child.. I am an adult.. I dont need a damn babysitter to tell me what to buy and what NOT to buy. I like the idea of a swap club.. I’m in!

  183. Cindy says:

    I think this is the stupidist thing I have EVER HEARD OF! This law will NEVER go into effect so I am not going to lose sleep over it. I am an e-bay seller and should be concerned but I am not…if it does go into effect there will so many people protesting it, it will. If there is any truth to this, it just shows how corrupt our world is. They can import toys from China that are full of lead, and will keep doing this, but want to ban the sale of used clothing! The only reason why anything like this would pass is because the stores are upset because they are losing money on people selling used clothing, having garage sales etc.

  184. Angie in Ohio says:

    omg!! Just got to thinking.. wonder how this will effect places like JoAnn fabrics?!!!!! They sell childrens printed fabrics and fabrics for clothing!!! OR is this ONLY for already constructed clothing??

    Damn.. yeah.. the more I think on this one, the more angry I am getting..

  185. Misty says:

    Thank you for this information. As a parent of a toddler, most of his clothing has come from yard sales and resale shops. None of our friends or family have children near his age…as a result, no hand me downs for us. This law has me very worried and I am writing my congressman to see if he has a response. Curious to see if there is another side to this story.

  186. patricia says:

    r u all kidding me about this i am a regular shopper at goodwill shops and if this happens what can i do for my kids we are on a serious budget here and my only point is yes i care for my kids well being but have we not purchased things for how many years from shops like this and have friends and or family pass clothes down to you what r some of us supposed to do now?

  187. Mary says:

    from what I understand all testing would have to be done by a neutral third party (not done in house)

  188. Vicki says:

    I’m glad you pointed out how this poorly-thought-out law will affect frugal or low-income families, thrift stores, small businesses and crafters who sell items for children. The problem with this law is that it puts the responsibility for testing on the end seller, rather than on the manufacturer of the materials used to make the product, and, of course, that it doesn’t make any allowance for items already in the commerce stream.
    I work with a small non-profit thrift store, which provides clothing at no cost to referred needy families, as well as selling at reasonable prices to the public. I couldn’t say how many families have gotten clothing for their children through this store. As the law stands now, they won’t be able to sell or give away any children’s items after the law takes effect Feb. 10.
    Small businesses which make clothing or toys from purchased materials will be responsible themselves for having the materials tested, and it doesn’t matter if the same material is used in 10 different types of items, they will have to have it tested for each item. A small crafter who makes baby quilts, for example, would spend more on testing than they could ever make from sales of their items.
    The problem with this ridiculous law is that the contaminated items that got everyone so upset were imported. Since Congress can’t make laws requiring that companies in other countries make safe materials, the people in the U.S. are going to be stuck with the costs of testing these cheap import materials. If this law isn’t changed — and quickly — small manufacturers of children’s items, small businesses and thrift stores which sell children’s items and families who are already being hurt by the economy are going to be hurt even further.
    We need to keep children safe from dangerous products, but let’s have a little common sense about existing products and put the responsibility where it belongs, on the people making the materials. If a manufacturer makes buttons, that manufacturer should provide proof that the buttons are safe — one set of tests — rather than every company that uses them for clothing having to test them. A handcrafter who makes knitted caps should be able to buy yarn that has already been tested, and only include a copy of the label information with their items, not have to test it themselves.
    It’s ironic that the quest for cheaper and cheaper products, and the off-shoring of manufacturing to achieve that goal is going to result in higher costs and lost jobs in the U.S. Sad, isn’t it?

  189. Pam says:

    This will crush all of the Esty stores that sell handmade kids’ toys.

    And no more goodies at local craft fairs either!

    Can my kid still make me a macaroni necklace at school, or will they take him to jail?!?


  190. paidtwice says:

    Carmen, I don’t even give my kids juice now (they are 4 and 2), so I certainly never gave it to my kids in a bottle.

    Actually, one of my two kids never even had a bottle. lol.

  191. Tonya says:

    Comment #30 – the lead tests that you can buy at your local hardware store do not qualify as “testing” for this law. You must use an “approved third party” lab to conduct the testing at a cost of up to hundreds of dollars per COMPONENT tested.

    As a small business owner making children’s clothing to supplement my family’s income, I’m very concerned about this. COMPONENT means that I must test each button, zipper, thread, different fabric, etc. that makes up the outfit I am trying to sell. The testing runs around $100 per COMPONENT! So, an outfit that I would normally sell for about $50…would have to retail for about $600!!

    And as a MOM, I’m concerned as I have taught my children to be frugal by shoppign at second-hand stores. They get excited when we go “thrift shopping” for clothes – why not? You get name brand for a fraction of the cost.

    Like many others here, I’m much more concerned about toxins in other areas than I am about lead in my children’s clothes.

    Thank you Trent for bringing this to light for many that do not know.

    P.S. I called several thrift stores in my town – most were UNAWARE of the law that will affect them in a few short weeks.

  192. Lisa says:

    “Good grief. How did we all survive growing up without all these special government laws to “protect us”?
    I think these laws do more to keep special interests and government officials in business than actually protect us.”

    I work with children and over time, there is an increase in asthma, allergy related disorders, and disabilities. To blame them all on chemicals in the environment would be extreme, but it would be nice to eliminate the chemicals that we know are dangerous.
    I was originally referring to used toys more than clothing. I hesitate to buy many things because of where they were manufactured, and would welcome a law that said that they have to be tested. Kids put toys in their mouths. I don’t want to see any kids, rich or poor, ingesting harmful chemicals because nobody cared.
    We have laws for food and drugs, why not toys?

  193. Lisa says:

    Actually, just because you survived doesn’t mean they all did. I had a friend who died from taking aspirin when he was 16. That was before we knew about Reye’s Syndrome. His mom thought she was helping him when she gave it to him.

  194. BW says:

    I do not have kids, but have two young nieces and they are low income, and live in a community that buys 99% used clothing for everyone, this will hurt them!

    Also, I praise all you parents who only give diluted juice and never put juice in a bottle. My sister-in-law and nieces have WIC, but it is not uncommon in their household to see Coke or Diet Coke in WIC sippy cups. It breaks my heart, and I vow not to do it with my kids, but it happens and worries me WAY more than used clothing on their backs!

  195. Michelle says:

    I contacted my Congressman’s office about this matter. Here’s a copy/paste of the reply I received:

    From what I can gather, the legislation targets durable goods (cribs, jumpers, etc.) as opposed to clothing. Here’s a FAQ from the CPSC website on the issue:

    FAQs For Section 104: Standards and Consumer Registration of Durable Nursery Products
    Will infants’ crib bedding, blankets, bath textiles, and apparel fall under the heading of “durable product”?
    No. Congress did not define the term “durable,” but it is commonly understood to mean able to exist for a long time without significant deterioration. Cloth/textile items are generally not considered to be durable goods. None of the items Congress specified in section 104 as examples of durable products are items made entirely of cloth, rather they are primarily made from rigid materials (e.g., cribs, toddler beds, high chairs, strollers, bath seats).

    Here is a link to the website with more FAQ: http://www.cpsc.gov/about/cpsia/faq/faq.html#children

  196. beth says:

    I hadn’t heard anything about this law, so I headed over and read up on it. Nothing I could find made any distinction between “products”, which is disappointing to say the least.

    It takes a lot for me to want to write my representatives, but I just did exactly that, and I also posted a question on change.gov. If anyone wants to throw their vote on it, it’s one of very few questions that come up if you search on ‘phthalate’.

    Wow… that’s just crazy. Wasteful (throwing all of those used items in the ladfills), short-sighted (if the first kid who owned that book/shirt/belt was OK, why wouldn’t the second- and it’s not like a painted tin wagon that we’re talking about here!), and must be big-business-backed (like someone else commented, like the outbursts from the publishing agencies now and then over used book sales).

  197. Alissa says:

    Think about this too… What happens to all the antiques, collectibles, and other items that get auctioned off? If you want to buy an original Monopoly game in the future, could you? Or would it have to be destroyed/ disposed of?

    This Act is very broad and very far reaching… The repercussions go well beyond the ability to get good deals at second hand stores for children’s clothing. (Which is something that DOES impact my family btw.)

    What does it mean for libraries?
    How about second hand/ refurbished computers for schools?
    And what about the added costs it will take to enforce this Act? Where is that funding coming from?
    Not to mention that putting *toxic* toys and clothes (goods) into landfills is not going to make the toxins go away, it is going to leach into the ground and back into the environment/ water that our children are going to be in contact with…

    Personally, I think (hope) the original reason(s) behind the Act was good intentions for those too young to protect themselves. However, what was actually passed fell greatly short and the wording should be revisited forthwith. (Which in political terms means within minutes, not when they can get around to it- be sure to include that in your letters to your representatives.)

  198. Lydia says:

    How will this affect Freecycle and other groups that give away used clothing? Does it apply only to those who exchange clothing for money?

  199. Mary Ann Scott says:

    As a mother of 4 and grandmother of 5 I have always used garage sales and thrift shops including Goodwill as a means of purchasing good used clothing and toys to extend my budget. Now its the only way I can purchase those special items my grandchildren want and need. It will also greatly decrease my secondary income selling used children equipment and toys on e-Bay.
    Also when people wrote about swap meets this won’t be possible because its not only the resale of items but also the distribution of these items that will be illegal. Therefore even if you wanted to give it away to the needy or for that matter your sister or cousin or friend it would be against the law and you could be fined for doing so. And since these item if not tested and found not to contain harmful amounts of lead or phthalates would be deemed hazardous it wouldn’t even be legal to but it in the landfills.
    One comment mentioned books. With there not being any exceptions in the law – what do public libraries and school libraries do with their older childrens books and for that matter their textbooks. Would each individual town have to test all their childrens library books or would they just have a mass book burning- (oh wait that could distribute hazardous waste into the air) Who would pay for this?
    Bigger companies will not be hurt because the cost of testing will be put on the cost of the new items. The secondhand market will not be there to compete. The people and businesses that would be hurt the most are the small resalers consignment shops and e-Bayers like myself and those who buy from them.
    Please if you haven’t yet done this please write or e-mail your congressmen and senators. Contact your local newspapers and local T.V. channels. Put pressure on those in power to modify this law in such a way that it would only affect items made from Feb 10 2009 onward and have exceptions for crafters and cottage sized businesses and other resonable exclusions. Thanks, Mary Ann

  200. Dee says:

    This law has me so upset on so many levels. People have already mentioned the hardship this will impose on people who have no financial choice but to buy 2nd-hand clothing for their kids, and people who choose to do so in order to re-use rather than buy new, and the damage to small businesses (both artisans and resellers), but what about the non-profits who make a good deal of their operating income from their thrift stores? (our town has a large Goodwill, 3 YWCA thrifts, and just about every large church also has one, too) This is a double whammy for them, and their customers.
    For those who assert that people don’t have to worry because the cops won’t have enough time to go after garage sales, what about those who don’t sell or shop at garage sales? Venues like local craft shows, etsy, ebay, etc. would be targets for law enforcement simply because they’d have so many possible ‘lawbreakers’ in one spot.
    And, yes, folks will definitely be getting rich off this law – think Mattel, Fisher Price, and large clothing mfrs and retailers who can afford the testing. And how much you wanna bet that used clothing that is too ‘dangerous’ for U.S. kids isn’t going to be resold by some company for kids in some other country?

  201. C.J. says:

    Thanks for posting this, I had not heard about it either, and as far as I am concerned it is a crock of crap!!
    I have 6 kids and even though I work 2 jobs I still cannot afford to buy them ALL new clothing!
    Thank God for freecycle!!!

  202. Christina says:

    Unbelievable that the goverment can make such a law and not support its actions. When the government decided to swith to digital tv they helped the TV companies by providing everyone with a $40 coupon to purchase a digital converter. So why do they not assist the small companies and provide a stipend or assistance on lead and phthalates testing. On another note, if we allow only the second hand stores to resale articles potentialy tainted, then we are saying that is ok for the children of lower income families(mostly minorities) to be put at risk. So is it fair for those in need to be endangered? Just as those who were in need of homes after Katrina to be given trailers that were hazardous to thier health. PROTECTION AGAINST HAZARDOUS MATERIALS SHOULD BE A RIGHT NOT A PRIVILAGE!

  203. Heather says:

    Someone mentioned swap clubs. Under this new law you are not even technically allowed to GIVE AWAY these items. And for the poster that stated that t”here are laws for Food and Drugs why no Toys”, there ARE MANY Laws in place for tos and children items, that is why so many items have been recently recalled due to lead.

    I am a mother or 3 girls, a 5 year old, a 1 year old, and my 3rd due 2/2/09. I agree that uidance over these items, as there has been for many years, is VERY important, this law is just crazy. This will affect everyone with children and new item prices will also have to increase to cover these redundant testing. This all came about because of all the recalls from China manufactured items containing lead, (which proves there are safety measures in place to protect our kids), I say make strickter rules for countries that are not following our country’s standards and fine those bussinesses.


  204. StellaTX says:

    EVERYBODY, the law doesn’t affect clothes:


  205. MissRayna says:

    Well,,,I have to say I will be Illeagal if it passes,,,I do alot of volunteer work and we have a place set up for used clothing,,I also have 5 grandchildren who i buy and trade used clothing for and will continue to do so ,,my grandchildren are dressed well,and wouldnt be if I wasnt able to buy used !,,I honestly don’t think it will pass,and I think it will be too hard to attack every revenue that sells used clothing,I am personally not too worried at this point but thank you for the heads up as I will be watching to see what happens,,I also agree with Dee that it will be an oppurtunity for clothing to be sold elsewhere,,,UGH what is the world coming to???,,,hard to survive!

  206. Cindy says:

    When will the government stop meddling in people’s lives “for the safety and welfare of the children?” In theory all these laws sound proper, but in essence they actually do more to harm families. Look at car seat laws. What must a family do when they have to have 5 car seats for their children ranging in age from 8 to newborn? People with income have been forced to purchase larger vehicles further adding to their expense. Families of no means, pile their children in a car, get stopped by the police, have CPS called, and lose their children to foster care. Why? Because they are poor. This law, like many others designed to “protect” our children will cause undue hardship.

  207. Tonya says:

    The real kicker here is…this is only for U.S. companies. If you make your items in another country (i.e. CHINA) you do not have to follow the same testing guidelines as those in the U.S. So apparently, U.S. companies are being punished for the mistakes of other countries. You can’t buy good ol’ made in the U.S.A. but you can buy all the lead tainted toys from China you want. Looks to me like this is benefiting Wal Mart more than anyone!

  208. Heartland Canuck says:

    I hate buying stuff from China. Just hate it. (I’ll save that rant for another time.) It is really hard to find anything made in the USA any more, especially stuff for kids. Once in a while I will find a gem, like Osh Kosh MADE in Wisconsin or Northern Reflections MADE in Canada. These, of course, have to be pre-owned because these “quality” domestic brands are now produced overseas to cut costs. When is the last time you saw kids clothes for sale that were made in North America? Likely, they were being sold at Once Upon a Child.

  209. Ranee says:

    I have just today read the articles about this new law change. Although I am sure I do not know the complete details, it seems to me that exempting cloths produced before that date absolutly reasonable. The law is aimed at protecting the kids? RIGHT? Who is going to protect the kids who will be going everyday without proper clothing? For those of us who can not afford to buy everything new, our children are the ones this law is hurting. If this law expemted clothing produced before 2-10-09 and then only required new clothes to be tested that would mean that all clothing even in the thrift stores produced after that date would be okay. If they required that used stores test clothes produced after 2-10-09, then they are being tested 2 times (once new, and again at the thrift store) and what is the point of that? It is a gross waste of small buisness owners money!

  210. Michele says:

    Since these things will be “hazardous waste” as of February 10, they won’t be able to simply go to landfills, but disposed of according to whatever the law is, for hazardous lead-containing materials.

  211. grapes says:

    To the people discussing bottles and juice – how about a juice debate elsewhere, not here? And I believe the commentator was referring to older children drinking soda (you know, it comes mainly in cans or bottles.) So calm down on that one.

    One thing that springs to mind is that used clothing has likely been washed many times. I know that I wash all articles of clothing, used or new, before first wearing. When used, for obvious reasons, and when new, because I am aware that chemicals are used in the processing and preservation of the fabric. I assume it “safe enough” after a lathering, two rinses, and spinning. I think throwing away all used clothing currently for sale is absurd and wasteful.

  212. CyanSquirrel says:

    Get out of my pocketbook and out of my family’s business, Uncle Sam! This new law was passed under the radar (I wonder how much kids new clothing retailers like Gymboree, Gap, and Carters had a hand in lobbying for it???) What a complete and perfect example of brainless government meddling and creation of a problem where none previously existed. I think most parents are capable of assessing the risks involved in clothing and purchasing accordingly. For example, buying used hats carries with it the risk of lice transmission. A prudent parent would consider this and act accordingly. Should Congress and the CDC step in and pass a law banning secondhand sales of hats without a pathological testing to make sure no critters are stowing away?? That is what this law is tantamount to! Grrr!!! Don’t they have more pressing issues to solve, like freaking melamine and lead contamination from all things Chinese??? I have forwarded this post on to a mother’s email list serv in hopes that this will ignite a fire under their collective butts. I know my representatives will hear from me regarding their short sightedness and over-zealousness. My first thought when reading this is, ARE YOU KIDDING ME??

    About 95% of my 13-month old’s clothes and toys are hand-me-downs from co-workers, garage sales, and Goodwill. The clothes are current, in great shape, and are worn for all of 3 or 4 months before they don’t fit anymore. I resent being forced to buy new crap for any kid I may have in the future when used goods are perfectly fine AND NICE TO MY WALLET! What a COMPLETE WASTE to see all of these perfectly usable clothes go into the landfill (and that is what will happen because businesses do not make money by giving away free things and having shelf space taken up by things that will bring no revenues. And charities can only take so much in.)

    BUZZZZZZZZ!!! WRONG ANSWER, UNCLE SAM! If anything would cause me to join an underground resistance to our joke of a government, this would be it!

  213. CyanSquirrel says:

    As one commenter said: “Requirements to throw out anything purchased before 2/10/09? It’s so ludicrous.”

    EVEN THE CREDIT CARD RACKET, er, COMPANIES HAVE UNTIL 2010 TO CLEAN UP THEIR ACT! And they don’t even sell anything hazardous to people’s health (you know what I mean). The level of pandering to special interests that exists in our government is just astonishing.

  214. Gloria says:

    I was reading about this new law over on Sean Hannity’s forum. I was surprised to learn that we are the only ones regulated by this law. Here is a statement from the cspc

    Foreign manufacturers and private labelers of imported products do not need to issue certificates, and they do not need to be listed as parties on certificates. For products manufactured in the United States, only the domestic manufacturer needs to issue the certificate. Private labelers do not need to issue certificates, and do not need to be listed as parties on certificates.

    Private labeler: Means an owner of a brand or trademark

  215. Alex JB says:

    I only moved here to the land of opportunity a year ago from the UK, I can’t say I understand many aspects of goverment or congress, but it seems the Dollar runs the show in many cases. This mandate has to be driven by some group of people/companies, the generic ‘kids health’ statement is being used to cover why this law is being implemented, but does anyone know wher big meat, big pharmaseutical, or big food is involved? or like Cyansquirrel said, are GAP pouring cash into somwhere to make this happen?

  216. Michelle says:

    We have 11 grandkids, #12 on the way.. and though most of our kids can afford new stuff for their kids, at least 2 of kids don’t make that kind of money… and THE pregnant one can only handle paying her bills because they have a gently used kids store next door to where she works… Her 7 yr old daughter wears NICE and brand name clothes at a fraction of the cost… There is an entire section of our town who will now NOT be able to dress their kids, because they just dont have the cash… Thrift stores and used clothes store are the only reason they still have roofs over their heads,, I can see making a law where they check for lead paint on toys and buttons, and forcing then to wash the clothes and testing buttons and snaps for tightness, But with the economy being what it is, what does the goverment want… First they can buy BMW’s but these people cant buy toys or clothes for their kids.,.,. WHY is this a law….
    As for employees and owners who own these shops, now they will be unemployed, and Hurray, More welfare or unemployment for US to pay… The government needs to clean up their backyards, before they go on petty crap like this…. Want to make a new law, make one that helps people, not rubs their face in the dirt….

  217. melissa says:

    I just wonder how this law affects people who make and sell handmade children items (clothes and toys.
    Do you know?

  218. Jennifer says:

    This is stupid. My kids have worn lots of resale. They like name brand clothing but I refused to pay name brand prices. I think it is taking things to far. It is not like a crib or walker. I think the government should be more focused with other issues. What happens when I have a garage sale, am I now a criminal.

  219. HeathernOhio says:

    1. I agree with cyan above this is totally out of hand and uncalled for , seems to me like uncle same and some others in dimwitt winged section of congress proposed this to G*P G&mboree and others to get us to spend more and less on other moms clothing they are swaping in order to save a couple dollars. This turns my stomach. SO typical. Such ignorance! This is a world turning sour , good lord help us.

  220. Wacky Hermit says:

    Stef, you are mistaken. The portion of the law you quote applies only to labeling, not lead testing. The law and the CPSC’s rulings are crystal clear; Congress intended the lead testing requirement to apply retroactively, even though the phthalate ban in the same law doesn’t apply retroactively.

    Not only that, but this law was passed in August, and in October the PIRG people had their panties all in a wad because there were still untested toys on the market for Christmas. The people who wrote this law, and the people on whose behalf they wrote it, evidently expected that lead testing was so easy and cheap to do that it could be started immediately, even though they made it clear in the law that only the most comprehensive tests would be permitted (no Home Depot lead testing kits allowed).

    This is what you all get when you expect government to step beyond its natural role as a standard-setter and into the realm of protecting you from every possible risk. Our congress is not composed of omniscient super-beings, it’s composed of corrupt lowlifes who’d personally strangle their own mothers if it meant they’d increase their power. You want these people to take care of you? Well this is how they do it, like the bunch of semi-educated idiots they are.

  221. Beth says:

    Voice of Reason? – Section 102(a)(3)(A) of the CPSIA, discussing third-party testing of childrens’ products, says that the testing and certification requirements apply to products manufactured more than 90 days after the relevant regulations have been posted. Thus, used products (clothing and toys) aren’t included.

  222. ash says:

    I do agree with keeping children safe. I also agree with using advances in technology to do so. But I think that if this is “mandatory” per the government, then the government should provide the means necessary. If ALL clothing must be tested for certain things then the proper equipment should be provided. If everyone thinks the economy is in bad shape now just imagine how terrible it will get when this goes into effect. Nearly everyone I know uses 2nd hand children’s clothes either for their own children or to earn an income. Very disheartening.

  223. Kate says:

    I have done a lot of reading and research about this law and want to try to clear up some misconceptions.

    Yes, clothing is included. The “durable goods” distinction does not exempt clothing from required testing.

    Books are also included if they are intended for children.

    Anything commonly understood to be made for use by children will be included. This would include not just toys, books, and clothing, but also shoes, backpacks, hairbows, electronic games, furniture, decor items, educational materials, and many more items.

    Cotton and other natural fiber clothing will be exempt only if it has no dyes.

    Resale stores cannot simply use lead testing kits. The required testing would have to be done by certified labs, at high cost.

    If a garment contained two fabrics, along with snaps, trim, and lining fabric, each element of the garment would have to be tested separately. This could cost several hundred dollars per garment.

    I make and sell one of a kind custom clothing for children. A garment which now sells for $50, will require testing that could cost several hundred dollars, which puts me out of business.

    Stores and charities will not be allowed to give away these “banned, hazardous” items after February 10. The law will prohibit any distribution, not just sale. And no, they may not be shipped overseas to other countries, regardless of the laws in the other countries. The items will have to be destroyed and deposited in landfills.

    Not only will everyone have to buy new items, but the new items will be more expensive. And communities may have to look for new landfills as the existing landfills fill up with banned childrens items.

    Please write and call your congress representatives and urge them to change this law.

  224. Dee says:

    I think this new law is crazy. So much time and money to worry about used clothing. What are parents to do that rely on these stores to keep clothing on their kids? All this time, money and effort should be focused on stopping the importing of junk toys and cloting from China. Or maybe the second had stores could sell the testing kits and the parents take control over their childs safety and test the clothing themselves. Let us take some responsibility for ourselves. The tiny risk is not worty all this fuss and filling our land fill with perfectly good clothing. This is just plain stupid.

  225. doserbud says:

    Voice your opposition to the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act by mailing one used piece of clothing (please mail clean clothing only) to your Senators and Congressmen. Let them know how you feel about this new law.

    By mailing your Senators and Congressmen the used clothing it will draw more attention to the situation than just a letter. A letter takes up little office space, the clothing will pile up and become an eye sore. Imagine if each Senator and Congressmen received just 1,000 letters with a piece of clothing in it. That’s 1,000 pieces of clothing. It’s hard to ignore that.


  226. Janet says:

    Please visit senate.gov and house.gov and make your opinions known.

  227. elmer says:

    I haven’t read all of these comments but noticed 2 things in going thru the CPSC website:
    – The phthalate regs are NOT retroactive
    – The regs appear to apply only to those who " purchase for resale ", so donations to thrift shops may not be covered.

  228. Tiffany says:

    Thanks so much for the article. I had no idea! I definitely think used items should be exempt! For families that struggle to get by as it is.. why make things harder for them? We have existed for years without the tiny bits of lead on clothing causing issues, why is it so big a deal now that we are willing to take it out of thrift and consignment stores? thus making it harder on the lower class to actually afford clothes? Another example of good intentions taken too far!

  229. trace says:

    Just for the record – the legal team for my local resale shop says that a second law passed only in California makes the law retro active. In the rest of the US there is a grandfather clause.

  230. Michelle says:

    I run a small resale store in our small town and I agree that if you are that concerned with lead then you need to purchase your childrens clothing new, but anything sold in a resale or consignment shop is at your own risk. We try to sell only your new updated styles, so most of the clothes would be worn out or disposed of within a couple of years and your new clothing would then start to recycle. I hate to see so many business go out of business and I a mother of four can not aford to purchase all my childrens namebrand clothes at retail prices.

  231. Nano says:

    Didn’t read all the comments…busy running through the house with scissors;)

    Why do we continue to do business with countries that produce toxic products? Where’s the oversite? Shouldn’t we be rejecting this stuff at the dock and sending it back to rot in said countries landfills? Are these various items “clean” at the receiving docks of retailers, but somehow become too toxic to sell in consignment, thrift shops,or drop offs like Goodwill? A little confused as to how that could happen, but I’m not a scientist. I did believe in the tooth fairy, so perhaps that will assist me in believing that this is good legislation:D

  232. robbsmom2002 says:

    It amazes me that in this country which has so many problems that all this time and trouble has been taken on this subject. We’re in a war, a recession, children are going hungry, people are losing their homes — but the good old government is worrying about lead in clothing. If as much effort was put into the really serious problems, we just might not have nearly as many.

  233. consignment shopper says:

    Many people believe the resale industry’s objection to this law is based on our
    pocketbooks and not the safety of our children. Nothing could be further from the
    truth! This is not about businesses losing money because they can’t sell lead
    based items. Nobody wants to do that. We all want our children to live in a safe

    IT IS about not having the CHOICE – in the middle of a recession – to purchase
    perfectly SAFE, second-hand items. IT IS also about throwing ALL the perfectly
    SAFE items in a landfill. Children’s items, not just toys, WERE tested a year
    ago during the big lead scare, that’s how they found some to contain too much
    lead. Those were taken off the market. MANY items were found to be perfectly
    safe, but now all of a sudden Congress has forced the CPSC to implement a big
    do-over. Lets’ just throw EVERYTHING away and start over? In the middle of a
    recession? So much for recycling! So much for teaching our children to live on
    this planet responsibly! So much for going green! Just throw it all away???? All
    of it???? Everything????

    It just doesn’t make sense

  234. For small business to survive CPSIA, exceptions and or amendments are direly needed and FAST!

    COMPONENT TESTING needs to be allowed. In apparel manufacturing why is 3rd party testing necessary if the components used (fabric, thread, buttons, ribbon, etc.) are certified lead free by the vendor who can provide a certificate. Cutting, sewing and ironing fabric does not introduce lead into the equation. Component testing will actually be a safer means to the end, as EVERY component must meet the standards vs. unit testing where a lead button may find it’s way through the testing process when combined with all the other components. Component testing is much more cost effective, safer, and will ensure safe products for children as the legislation intends.

    EXEMPTIONS for items which clearly do not contain lead. Wood, precious metals & jewels, beeswax, vegetable dyes, natural fiber fabrics and yarns, Oeko-tex fabrics, organic fabrics,

    CONSIDERATIONS for where an item is manufactured and in what number. This will kill the handmade industry. It will certainly put me out of business (I make one-of-kind children’s birthday outfits) which is ironic considering my 3-year old business is now finally thriving even in spite of the economy.

    If America expects to have any items made here, any spirit of entrepreneurship left, and support emerging, small and micro businesses the legislation needs to consider the handmade industry which is expected to comply just as the large companies. We are not against testing for lead. I will gladly submit my handmade cotton shirts and pants to prove they do not contain lead. The problem is I can’t afford the $500-$1600. price tag to test each unit.

    PLEASE SUBMIT YOUR COMMENTS to the CSPIA regarding testing requirements. They have extended a REQUEST for COMMENTS. Give them yours!
    Send to: Sec102ComponentPartsTesting@cpsc.gov

  235. concerned from Canada says:

    I feel sorry for the Americans undergoing their police state rule by the idiots in power

    if I were you I would ban together to pay money to test every toy and clothing that walmart is selling.. you have to know that they are somehow behind this

    publish the results on a website. you have to push back

  236. Racheal says:

    And just think – when all of those big toy companies and children’s clothing manufacturers have to shell out the money to put tested toys and clothes on the market after Feb., they’ll pass the “savings” on to us! So not only will we NOT have the option of buying resale items at a discounted price, but everyone with young kids will have to pay a small FORTUNE to buy anything new b/c I wouldn’t doubt all of the prices go up for new products… to cover the cost of the testing. How is it that the toy companies are not penalized for poor regulation of quality in their own products? And why do we, as consumers, now have to pay for years of these companies’ mistakes?

    How about another solution – how about we stop outsourcing all of our jobs to other countries???? Seems to me that most of the clothing and toys that have tested positive for high doses of lead are being made by companies who have outsourced to other countries where they aren’t monitoring quality as well! It would solve issues of job loss in America as well as keeping products here in the State where (maybe, just maybe) we can regulate our industry better and where we can demand better as consumers.

    Ever tried to go shopping and NOT buy something made in China, Japan, or India? It’s next to impossible…

  237. Smackman says:

    Why not just create a black market for these clothes? If you feel that you should respect this unjust law because you should ‘give unto Ceaser what is Ceasers’, I’d advise you to reevaluate your mystic premises. If you feel as I do that the federal government has no right to legislate in this matter, then just ignore them. Buy them out the back door of Goodwill and sell them at revolving buy- sell-trade garage sales. Be ready to raise Cain with the leaders of any local law enforcement agency that attempts to enforce this federal clothing law.

  238. Amy says:

    Wow,I really think that they are reaching with this one.I mean,nothing can be easy for todays young family.I think its ridiculous!I was born in the late 70’s and how in the world did I survive?The lead paint in our childhood homes and cribs,long car rides in a cheap carseat,or no carseat at all,the milk straight from the carton at 3 months old…I can go on forever!While I do believe that its a good thing that products are being made with more caution these days,I also think that this country is more becoming obsessive compulsive about it.I believe that because we do not expose our ourselves or our children to anything-grems,dirt,bacteria,etc it has contributed to much higher allergy rates,and other “common nowadays”problems that were never a problem before!I think everyone should relax a little.We have survived this long people!Do we really have to live being paranoid about every little thing??Used childrens clothes are saving people financialy right now.People have a better chance of not surviving the financial crisis than they do getting “poisoned”by used clothing that they’ve already been wearing!!!!

  239. Margaret says:

    If I were a crafter, I would just start sticking on labels “not for children under 12 years of age” (wink wink).

  240. Rob says:

    Thanks for posting this info. I was unaware that this change would affect used clothing and other items

  241. Erika says:

    Agree with the lamentation over the loss of the secondhand industry, and kudos for bringing to attention how this will make life harder for those who are already having a tough time.

    Re the harm/safety of the second-hand clothes: if you are choosing carefully, so that you have the most natural and bling/detail-free you are likely to get clothes that have had a lot of the scary chemicals washed out. I’m more worried about the chemicals used to refine and preserve the fabrics than pthalates and lead in clothing. The danger of pthalates and lead in toys is more worrisome to me, so that part of the law is welcome.

  242. Brenda says:

    Hi, I am a single parent with 2 kids, 1 is 15 and my son is 2. I am outraged. I cannot afford to buy new for myself or my kids and I get things from freecycle and thrift/consignment shops. I can understand new clothes but not used/secondhand. This basically means for me is that my kids are going to have new clothes from a retail store but no food on the table. Now does that make any sense? I think it is wrong for the Goverment to stipulate that on used clothes Plus it is going to hurt our economy even more with the closing of businesses plus more trash in our landfills. So concerned about the earth they are going to make it even worse by including secondhand clothes in this law.

  243. Jamie says:

    Go to congress.org now and tell your representatives how you feel!

  244. jen says:

    I agree that this is a good law for new cloths but that it shouldn’t take effect on used clothing stores for about 2 years and that all cloths tested should have a marking to show they were already tested. My thought on all this is the government can spend billions on bailing out these large greedy banks but they don’t give the small businesses a grant or tax break to help with a new law like this.

  245. Tonya says:

    Margaret – Dont’ think I haven’t thought about that. But, the way the law is worded, it won’t work. it says “anything reasonably understood to be for children under 12.”

  246. rebecca says:

    I think these lawmakers should get their priorities straight. If they are so quick to create a law to test kids clothes for lead and such, what about testing all these baby formulas that they found melamine in – which they now say is unharmful (somehow it was harmful a couple months ago). And what about testing the baby bottles with bpa in them?? I don’t see stores throwing away all the baby feeding supplies that are laden with bpa. To me, it seems like those items would be potentially more dangerous and harmful to our kids than a t-shirt. And somehow, the FDA won’t admit that bpa is harmful to our kids (despite all the tests that say they ARE), but isn’t that basivally what phthalates are?? They are such hypocrites – its horrible. Its great that something is being done to regulate these chemcials that are in the kids clothing – but I think its a little much to dump all of the untested clothing into a landfill. That’s pretty stupid. They should concetrate more on these bpa laden baby bottles and such, and these tainted baby formulas too!

  247. Charlotte says:

    Not sure whether you saw this already, but there has been a clarification. Used clothing stores will not need to certify that their products are safe:


  248. Helena Davis says:

    I have lived my whole growing up years and my childrens years with second hand clothing. Without that being availible there would be a finacial burdon on perents on top of the already fincial problems of present.

    I have always given clothing that my kids have out grown to someone who could use them first, then to a second hand store. I have also been blessed with people giving me clothing for my kids also. I know that it is not selling the cloths myself and getting money to buy more, but the Lord blesses my family and I seek to bless others.

    The government is like the gossip in the bible. They must have too much time on there hands so they worry about every little thing.

  249. charity says:

    So let me get this straight. It is legal for someone to smoke cigarettes and give me and anyone else around them cancer, but not legal to put my children in seconhand clothes? It’s absolutely ridiculous! This is just a way for our backward government to boost retail sales in a crappy economy. What they don’t understand is that the families that do purchase used clothing for their children can not afford new clothes at the store. If the government was so concerned about its people than why didn’t they regulate all the “goods” it received from other countries. You know, the same countries that it shipped all our jobs to. Supposedly they have been trying to regulate the merchandise containing lead for years, but we just get a couple of months to come up with a plan to clothe our children and find other jobs in an economy that has no jobs to offer. I, for one can not afford new clothes for my children, but i really feel sorry for those families that got hit the worst. First, they lose their home to foreclosure and are on the streets. Then we tell them that we can not give them clothes or toys for their children because they “may” contain lead. What a way for our government to kick us when we”re down. Just when I think that those idiots can’t make life any worse for the citizens of this country, they proove me wrong!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  250. Nancy says:

    This is the most ridiculous law I have seen enacted in my lifetime. Yes, we should be concerned with the amount of lead and other chemicals in our clothing and other items. But we need to be rational about our approach. There is probably more lead in most municipal drinking water systems and city wells than in the majority of the clothing that our children wear. Today’s economy is in ruins and now we want to make it nearly impossible for financially struggling families who can not afford to buy retail. Thrift stores and sites like eBay, Craigslist offer an opportunity for families to clothe their children for less and many times offer the opportunity to acquire quality clothing at far less than retail prices for low-quality clothing. Also when you add in the cost the Retailers will have to bear for the testing that needs to be done on all merchandise they sell, that will translate into higher retail prices. And I don’t even want to get started about what this does to civic-minded individuals who use sites like Freecycle – not only are they shopping smart, they are taking “real” action to keep items out of our landfills. I can only imagine the mass amount of items that will arrive in our landfills after Feb 10th!!!
    Maybe everyone should take their used childrens clothes, toys, books, etc… and deliver them on the steps of the Congressional Building on Feb 1. THis would give Congress about 8 days to turn this fatal mistake around.

  251. tiffany says:

    This law worries me as well. I have four children and 90% of their clothing has come from either garage sales or thrift stores. This will really hurt my family. Even if you go to walmart and buy each child one new outfit you are looking at spending at least 100$ ! My family just can not afford this!

  252. dawnmf says:

    msn money central posted an article today saying this law would exempt used and second hand clothes.

  253. Ben says:

    Wow, thanks for making it harder for low income families to get by. Does anybody care about lead and phthalates? Come on people our parents grew up with this, and oh look their fine. You know there are reasons why asthma and allergies are at record levels in kids these days, because we shleter our kids from everything. There immune systems are never going to learn to fight off anything. Telling people they can’t sell there kids used clothes and by used clothes is the stupid, people these days are to up tight. Why do we feel we have to please everything single person in this country. It is probably only a select few that think this is a good idea. Probably a democrat too.

  254. Cynthia says:

    As an update to this story: yesterday the CPSC issued a press release to which they had put lots of ‘spin’. This in response to the growing uproar and support by an overwhelming number of Americans as we all vote, write, call, email, blog, mobile message our elected representatives to respond to this issue.

    If you read it you’ll see. Were they not suggesting to shop owners that they boot leg their used kid’s clothes?

    In effect, if you read the press release, NOTHING CHANGED. They just wanted to shut Americans up!
    Thanks to Trent and others covering the issue on their blogs they were completely inundated and didn’t know how to make it stop. DON’T PLEASE HELP US. Go to http://www.savekidsresale.com to read more. (errr…and if you like David Lee Roth, read the editorial opinion and watch a video that will get your feet tapping) Thanks so much!

  255. Susan says:

    I wrote my senators and representatives and below is a portion of the response from one of them. I marked with **** the part that put my mind at ease . . .

    ” In August 2008, Congress passed the Consumer Product Safety Information Act (CPSIA) to establish safety standards and increase accountability for manufacturers of children’s products, including establishing acceptable levels of lead in paint that is used on children’s products. ****On January 8, 2009, the CPSC released a statement clarifying CPSIA, stating “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.” This CPSC statement is
    meant to address the concerns of small businesses regarding excessive regulatory burdens, while ensuring that product safety is not compromised.”

  256. Janet says:

    The CPSC issued a statement saying that the bill will not effect resale shops. Kind of.

  257. Cynthia says:


    Nothing has changed people. It DOES AFFECT US and YOU parents and consumers, and our landfills.

    The CPSC/GOVT was being so inundated with calls and letters that they tried to make us shut up. So they put on spin -but THE LAW HAS NOT CHANGED no matter what your congressperson or the CPSC wants to LEAD YOU TO BELIEVE!

    They say we ‘don’t have to test’ – but what they didn’t tell you CLEARLY in their statement was this issue in the law is poorly written. We DO HAVE TO HAVE A REASONABLE TESTING PROGRAM and if ANYTHING, any ONE PART of ANY item for a kid age 12 and under contains more than the new, even lower limit of lead of 600 ppm it is a banned hazardous substance AND WE FACE $100,000 fine per violation and jail.

    They ‘SAY’ we should just ‘be careful’ about what we sell and they don’t INTEND to ‘go after’ us. But it the STATES ATTORNEY GENERALS charged with enforcement of this law.

    IF THE GOVERNMENT/CPSC IS ‘saying’ THEY WILL NOT PROSECUTE US, then why don’t they CHANGE THE STUPID LAW SO IT READS THAT WAY. Their press release/statement was pure political spin.

    Please, sorry for caps, but the media is spreading these falsehoods in order to make us stop calling and emailing and sending letters and it distresses me so much to see it working!

    Read this article! It will show you how this law will affect EVERYTHING for a kid under 12 and YOU, yes YOU!


    This law DOES affect children’s books as well!

    So insidious this spin and hype by politicos. Will you allow yourself to be fooled by believing everything you hear? Please!

    Write, CALL (that really annoys them – but be prepared they will tell you it doesn’t apply or some such crapola but the law has NOT changed). The only way to fix this is for Congress to amend the law. the CPSC has no authority to do that despite what they may lead you to believe by putting out statements and such.

    Visit http://www.savekidsresale.com and with a couple of clicks send a letter to your legislators. Please help us keep up the momentum!

    Thanks, and again, sorry for the caps but I am beside myself trying to fight the misinformation.

  258. Cynthia says:

    Please don’t be misled by the press release regarding resale stores issued by the CPSC. That is all it is, a press release, not a change to the law. Unless a real change is made all resale stores will be selling “banned hazardous substances” on February 10th. The scope of products impacted is enormous. It applies to ALL products intended for use by children 12 and under. Clothing, shoes, books, bedding, furniture, toys, you name it. And because the law applies retroactively, it requires that all new children’s products sitting on retailer’s shelves have the required certification. Since this certification hasn’t been required, most products don’t have it. So your local Target, Walmart, Toys R US, etc. will also have shelves full of hazardous waste on 2/10. All the kids books and videos at Borders, Half Price Books, also hazardous waste. The law also applies to children’s products that are given away, so if your church group makes baby blankets for a homeless shelter they must be able to certify the lead content in the blankets or be breaking the law.
    It will be lights out for the majority of small businesses who manufacture children’s products because they can’t afford testing. Even if all their raw materials are certified, the product they create must be certified again. Every size, every color, every batch.

    Stay at home moms who make hair bows will be subject to the same testing criteria as the large toy companies who manufacture in China and created this whole mess to begin with. The little guys will be gone and China will still be there producing 100% of our children’s products.

    Everyone wants to insure our children’s safety. This poorly written law unfortunately is not the solution.

  259. Stacey says:

    I believe that the government should put some trust into the parents of the children. And let us think of their safety, but not purchasing something that we believe would be harmful to our families.
    I grew up on hand me downs and my daughter is as well.
    To tell us that we can not resale the items that we have now, is basically telling us to throw away money. Many families rely on selling their many children items that we accumulate, to purchase more items, because they grow so quickly.
    If I had to purchase everything new, even on just titems that we NEED then I would go broke. Times are tough as it is, why would the government try to push this on us. It may comes down to us moving out of our house and in with family to make sure that the governement gets it’s way.
    Whcih by the way, will not happen. I believe that the parents make the right choices on what will not harm their families.

  260. Carlos says:

    Another article on the subject:

    Second-hand shops are reportedly exempt…

  261. Trisha says:

    This is an article from snopes.com, confirming that CPSC will not be requiring testing on used items.


  262. Michelle says:

    THE CPSC press release DOES NOT say that resale shops are exempt!!!!!! It says, and I quote from their press release “The new safety law does not require resellers to test children’s products in inventory”. “However, resellers cannot sell children’s products that exceed the lead limit and therefore should avoid products that are likely to have lead content, unless they have testing”. “Those resellers that do sell products in violation of the new limits could face civil and/or criminal penalties”.

    In other words, if we don’t KNOW that it has no trace amounts, then we can’t legally sell it. We would have to question every clothing item with decoration, writing on them, cute buttons, etc. There is no way to KNOW without testing, and you can’t do your own testing, either. It must be done by a government certified lab.

    We are very careful at our store to check all recalls. We automatically get email notices from the CPSC on new recalls. We would never sell anything we thought could endanger a child. Funny how we never heard about this new law until last week a customer asked us about it, nothing from CPSC until their press release with “clarification”, which didn’t clarify.

    We know they are not going to be actually “policing” second hand stores, but we operate our business legally, following the laws. This law has good intent, but I believe Congress did not truly think it through.

    We will no longer be able to carry hair bows in our store because the small business that makes them can in no way afford testing. This is ridiculous! People should be making informed purchases, they should know that they are purchasing a used item, and that it possibly could contain contaminants according to the government, and then make their choice. This law wrongfully puts many small companies that make products that are safe, but cannot afford testing, out of business (like hair bows and other craft type items).

    PLEASE, CONTACT YOUR CONGRESSMEN!!!!! They are the only ones that can amend this law. They should exclude resale stores, and the law should NOT be retroactive.

  263. Tonya says:

    COMMENT #155 – yes, I’ve read the law very closely. This law is retroactive which means items SOLD after February 10th, even if they are MANUFACTURED BEFORE FEBRUARY 10TH. this is not a case of spreading undue panic. This is very real for those of us who own businesses that are affected.

  264. LINDA says:

    Get the government off the backs of native americans and other crafts people who sell clothes and toys

    Lead is more likely from china..let’s boycott China goods if the US is doing this to us!!!!

  265. liz valdez says:

    many famliys have no money to buy full price cloths.we cant afford to.most of us live on a buget.We depend on 2nd hand stores,yard sales,ect…Are you going to cloth our children? or give us refund checks to buy our kids their cloths?What are we suppose to do? Most of us dont make enough money to cloth our children some.And now with people out of jobs what are they suposse to do?You cant do this to the children just because you can affrord to cloth your children.Its not fair to this to them.And instead of throwing the cloths to the land feilds take the cloths to mexico they dont have any laws about cloths.They apreceate the cloths we give them.No one thought of the children in all aspects.yes i understand the lead situations but you should have had clothing factorys label the cloths as to what it was made of.and we wouldnt have this problem.

  266. Kathleen says:

    Per Snopes.com, this is false

  267. Snopes has been wrong before- I think they have a touch of awe for the cult of the expert and argument from authority- and they are certainly wrong again on the CPSIA.

  268. Billie says:

    This sounds to me like RETAIL CLOTHING MFG and sellers have a BIG LOBBY in Washington to make sure they sell their products NEW to the customer and cut out the economic frugality of USED children’s clothing that keeps most parents afloat when a growing child wears 3 or 4 different sizes in a year’s time. I sincerely believe that the law should be ammended to EXCLUDE used children’s clothing for the sake of the parent who cannot afford the $100 athletic shoes that will fit for 6 months or the $50 Name brand shirt that will be stained and faded in 3 months. If this law goes into effect, it is my belief that the RETAIL PRICES of children’s clothing will RISE worse than gas prices rose last fall.

  269. Mara says:

    My home-based business of my own designs of handmade children’s dress-up tutus has been paying our mortgage and family bills for the last 5 years. When I first heard about the CPSIA, I couldn’t believe it! I read the actually wording of the law online and was appalled!

    The strict testing requirements will not only be impossible for me as a micro-manufacturer to afford, but will also make it illegal for ANY business in the entire USA to sell ANY item for children under age 12, unless each individual product is tested and certified to be lead-free and phthalate-free.

    Imagine going into ANY store in the entire USA and not being able to find ANY children’s product ANYWHERE in the store, or online, or at a yard sale, etc. It will be ILLEGAL for ANY retailer to sell an untested children’s item anywhere in the entire country!

    Where will we buy our children’s diapers, wipes, bottles, pacifiers, bibs, pajamas, clothes, socks, shoes, coats, boots, toys, dolls, books, quilts, blankets, cribs, highchairs, carseats, strollers, tricycles, bikes, etc. after Feb. 10th when it will be ILLEGAL for any retailer to sell them???

    Unless each and every individual item is tested and proven to be lead-free, it will be against the law for ANY children’s product to be sold. So we, the parents, will be unable to purchase ANYTHING for our children until each item has undergone expensive testing, which of course is so unrealistic that it is practically impossible!

    This law is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard of, and unless it is amended or repealed before Feb. 10th, it will either empty EVERY real or virtual store in the USA of every single children’s product, or it will turn thousands of manufacturers and retailers in the country into outlaws, if they sell even ONE untested item intended for use by children under age 12.


  270. mom of four says:

    I looked into this and made some phone calls. The law is not what many think. Used children’s clothing already in our country will be able to be sold secondhand. After February 10, when goods enter our country they must be checked. Google this law and find the gov’t site and call for yourself. I did.

  271. I just opened a small children’s consignment boutique 8 months ago. This has been a dream of mine for a long time. I have a lot of blood, sweat and tears into this business and I am struggling to get it up and running. This will be devastating to my shop as well as thousands of other consignment shops throughout the US. Thrift stores, Goodwill, Salvation Army and more.. we all need to take a stand and write to our congressman. Go to NARTS.org website and sign the petition..please. It only takes a moment. There are so many more “Big” things that the government should be focusing on..child abuse, second hand smoke, the real things that can harm our children. Not the cute little dress that someone buys for their little girl.

  272. Tass says:

    PHWEEP! Guys, it’s a bit of a myth. Check it: http://www.snopes.com/inboxer/pending/cpsia.asp

  273. cece portell says:

    I believe this law was developed for the benefit of the large merchants. You know the ones that sold us all of the “lead contaminated clothes” to begin with. Are they taking responsibility in reimbursing the public for their mistake? I don’t think so. Instead they are passing a law which makes it imposible to donate or resell the clothes that they have sold us, as our children out grow them. They will put the smaller thrift shops out of business. A lot of parents clothe their children from these stores because they are more affordable. By driving these small shops out of business they will raise the cost of children’s clothes to outragous prices. Who benefits from that? The stores that sold us the “Contaminated clothes”.

  274. Of course some big brand companies did have the ability to deal with these tests, but these tests will rise to the additional costs onto consumers. And some small workshops or small companies, there is no ability to deal with these tests, does not mean that their products will certainly have problems.

    In today’s economic circumstances, as a consumer, I also hope that the consumer has a transparent rather than compulsory.

  275. mandolin says:

    I find this very interesting. I did not know much about lead in clothes until this post. I do know, because I work in environmental cancer research, that our clothes are filled with chemicals to prevent wrinkling and keep them shiny. I always was happier giving my child used clothes knowing that most of the chemicals washed off by the time she got them. You are always supposed to wash new clothes to reduce chemical exposures.btw

    A lot of people are angry about these new changes but I think protecting children is more important than a dollar value. I do not know how much lead is most clothes nor what the long term risks are with average exposures, and it may be that noone knows. However as a baby of 80s, I know I am filled with chemicals, PCBs and DDT….and I would rather avoid any other exposure for both myself and my daughter. Now this is after watching my mom go through chemo twice…and interviewing lots of women who are in cancer treatment.

    If you have kids and are broke just stock up before then on used clothes. Ask for free piles in the sizes you need on your local craigslists. Go to canada and buy at used shops if you are on the border. You can also make friends with other parents and hand down the new clothes. Its not the end of the world…just get creative.

    If you are not flat broke…you may pay a little more for clothes…but big deal. I would rather pay more and deal with less toxic issues for my kids. Speaking of which, when can we take the chemicals out of the clothes?

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