The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, which takes effect Feb. 10, will outlaw the sale of children's products that contain more than 600 parts per million total lead. In addition, items can not have more than 0.1 percent of certain phthalates. Phthalates are a chemical added to plastic to increase their flexibility.
Importers and manufacturers will have to certify that items made after that date meet those criteria. Initially, the law would have also required resellers to test every item to be certain they did not exceed those criteria, but officials have since reinterpreted the law to say that resellers are not required to test, but they will be responsible if found selling items in excess of the specifications.
How this will affect the resale industry is still uncertain.
"I don't know how this is going to work. We don't have to test for lead but we are still responsible," Small-Fry Shoppe owner Linda Stolow said. She added, "It will be a lot of work to keep up with this."
Stolow and her husband David run the shop on Railroad Avenue, which takes in gently used items such as clothing, toys and books and resells them. Stolow said the new law will certainly have an effect on how they do business. "We'll be careful about selling toys that are painted."
In most cases, uniform colors mean that items are not painted but that the color is mixed in with the plastic. But, Stolow said, if it is a multi-colored item, chances are good that it has been painted on. One example she gave was a small rolling telephone designed for infants. On the eyes of the phone, she pointed to multiple colors.
Currently, when an item comes in, Stolow will do an online search for information such as pricing, availability and recalls. If a product has a bad history or has been the subject of a recall they do not sell it. "It takes time to find all the things that have been recalled. There's lists and lists of stuff," she stated.
With the new law in effect, the Stolows will be more careful in general but will specifically watch over items for babies and toddlers. "I've pulled toys off my shelf already. If it's something that can go in the mouth or be chewed on, we're checking it."
Other stores in the area, such as the Thrift Station, which benefits Discovery Counseling Center, also do a brisk business in the resale of children's items. Volunteers at the store said they do not believe they will be removing anything from the shelves at this time, but it is something that they will be keeping an eye on as well.