While the government might be trying to protect our kids from dangerous toys, what they're succeeding in doing is causing even greater confusion for parents.
As I wrote several weeks ago, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act would require manufacturers of all children's products to certify and test for numerous hazards including lead content and phthalates. The problem is that this testing is so stringent and broad that it would essentially force many small manufacturers out of business and seriously hurt the larger companies.
So now, in order to provide more guidance to manufacturers as to when testing is required and how it is to be conducted along with redefining rules that could excuse certain materials from testing, the Consumer Products Safety Commission has issued a one-year stay of enforcement for this testing. The Catch-22 is that, while they don't need to test, they are still required to meet the lead and phthalates limits, mandatory toy standards and other requirements. Basically what this means is that the government is saying that they're not going to make manufacturers prove they're meeting the standards, they're just going to take their word for it.
Needless to say, this makes me extremely nervous. As moms, how are we supposed to know what to believe and what is safe? I agree that revised guidelines must be crafted so that we are protecting our children but not putting companies out of business. But ultimately we as consumers need to be assured that the toys we are buying for our children are safe.
Fortunately, while the government might not be requiring the testing, large retailers such as Walmart and Toys R Us are requiring suppliers to test their products and provide proof that they meet the new lead and phthalate limits. Unfortunately for now moms, I still say buyer beware.