safety rules for children's clothes have stores in a fit
owners say the cost of testing for toxic lead and phthalates will shut
businesses. The law goes into effect Feb. 10.
Semuels January 2,
Barring a reprieve, regulations set to take
effect next month could
force thousands of clothing retailers and thrift
stores to throw away
of children's clothing.
law, aimed at keeping
lead-filled merchandise away from children,
mandates that all products sold
for those age 12 and younger --
clothing -- be tested for lead and
phthalates, which are
chemicals used to make
plastics more pliable. Those
that haven't been
tested will be considered
hazardous, regardless of whether
have to go to the landfill,"
Adele Meyer, executive director of the
National Assn. of Resale and
The new regulations take effect Feb. 10 under the
Consumer Product Safety
Improvement Act, which was passed by Congress
year in response to
widespread recalls of products that posed a
children, including toys
made with lead or lead-based
Supporters say the measure is sorely needed. One health
advocacy group said
it found high levels of lead in dozens of products
purchased around the country,
including children's jewelry, backpacks
Lead can also be found in buttons or charms on clothing
appliques that have been added to fabric, said Charles Margulis,
director for the Center for Environmental Health in
A child in
Minnesota died a few years ago after swallowing a
lead charm on
his sneaker, he
But others say the
measure was written
too broadly. Among the most vocal
critics to emerge
in recent weeks are
U.S.-based makers of handcrafted toys and
clothes, as well as
thrift and consignment shops that sell children's
will have to lock our doors and file for
bankruptcy," said Shauna
founder of Salt Lake City-based
franchise Kid to Kid, which sells used
children's clothing in 75 stores
across the country and had planned to open
store in Santa Clara,
Calif., this year.
There is the
possibility of a partial
reprieve. The Consumer Product Safety
which is responsible
for enforcing the law, on Monday will consider
exempting clothing and toys
made of natural materials such as wool or wood.
commission does not
have the authority to change the law but can decide
it.But exempting natural materials does not go far enough,
Lamar, executive vice president of the American Apparel and
Assn. Clothes made of cotton but with dyes or non-cotton yarn, for
might still have to be tested, as would clothes that are
blends, he said.
"The law introduces an
extraordinarily large number of testing requirements
for products for
everyone knows there's no lead," he said.
groups say the law is flawed because it went
Congress too quickly.
By deeming that any product not tested for lead
content by Feb. 10 be
considered hazardous waste, they contend, stores
to tell customers
that clothing they were allowed to sell Feb.
9 became banned
These groups say the law should be
changed so that
it applies to products
made after Feb. 10, not sold
That would take action by Congress, however,
Safety Commission's general counsel has
that the law applies
retroactively, said commission
The regulations also apply to new
clothing. That won't be
a problem for
large manufacturers and retailers,
industry experts say, but
it will be a
headache for small operators such
as Molly Orr, owner of Molly
O Designs in Las
has already produced her spring
line of children's clothes. She says
can't afford the $50,000 it would
cost to have a private lab test her
clothing line, so she's trying to sell
her inventory at a steep discount
Feb. 10. After that, she is
preparing to close her
"We have a son with autism, so we
are all about
cleaning up the toxins that
our children are exposed to," she
I think the law needs to be looked
at more closely to see how it
affecting the economy in general."
Thrift store owners say the
law stings because children's garments often
come in new or nearly new,
because children typically outgrow clothing
Vaporis, owner of Duck Duck Goose Consignment in New Port Richey,
her store stocks barely used brand-name clothing from places such as
Too and Gymboree.
"We really provide a service to
the community to
help people get clothes
for their children they
otherwise couldn't afford,"
Families have been
bringing more clothes to consignment
stores, where they
get a chunk of
the proceeds, to earn a little cash this
winter, she said. She
contact her congressional representatives and
senators to ask them to
amend the law but says there's not enough awareness
the law to force anything to
retailers and thrift stores appear to be unaware that
the law is
changing. Of half a dozen Southern California children's thrift
by The Times, only one had heard of the law. Organizations
such as Goodwill say
they're still investigating how the law will affect
them because there is so
much confusion about what will be
Cynthia Broockman, who owns two consignment stores and
thrift shop in
Virginia, recently stopped accepting children's
resale. That raised
the ire of a man who was trying to sell
castoffs there and had not
heard of the new
it's not understood by people how sweeping and
said. "The ripples that are going to go forth
from this are just
I am just amazed. After talking with Nicki I called my father
(whose wife is a regular at the local thrift stores and a regular at
auctionsvcwhere they both by many kid's toys), I called my sister (who is a
regular Ebayer who buys and sells children's clothing and toys) and I talked
with Kirby. Not a single one of them was aware of this new law.
After THIS BLOG POST I think you all made it very clear that you also shop in thrift
stores and consignment shops for your children.
So, I want to know, how many of you were aware of this law?
How many of you were aware that we will no longer be able to buy our children's clothing, essentially, outside of a big box store after February
How many of you know a local shop owner that will now lose his or
How many of you are willing to throw away this "hazardous" material, filling our landfills because EVEN YOU are no longer allowed to sell or give away your children's "old" toys or clothing.
And what are we going to do about it?
I am going to CONTACT MY ELECTED OFFICIALS (at this site you can send an email DIRECTLY to your elected official - tell them what you think)!
And, quite honestly, I am going to hit the stores this weekend and
Okay, I don't understand why this entire blog looks so odd...but I think I got the point across. PASS THE WORD! Post something on your blog about this, link it back here, SPREAD THE WORD!
Updated to add:
Here are a number of articles I just found within the last few hours:
An article that was just posted HERE from Ohio.
A new one from NBC HERE.
And one from Nebraska that concentrates on the effects of small businesses HERE.
**Two more updates**
A blog all about the law, its repercussions HERE.
A PETITION HERE with an added bonus of being able to write your congressman/woman directly from the site.