Like any webmaven, I like to think I have a nose for a web hoax, and this one sounded like one to me. The idea is that the Consumer Products Safety Commission is banning the sale of children’s books published before 1985 on grounds that they contain lead. Intriguing premise but surely not true. Well, it turns out to be more true than not. I couldn’t find anything at the CPSC website but this is because it stems from Congressional legislation. Here is an AP story:
The rule is designed to keep products with lead and certain chemicals, called phthalates, away from children. Passed by Congress last summer, it applies to products aimed at children ages 12 and younger.
Last month, thrift store operators joined others in the business community in decrying the law as overly broad. They argued that lead tests required by the rule would be too expensive and time-consuming and should be applied only to new products. If applied retroactively, many resale shops would go under, they argued.
Even librarians were anxious, since the law applies to children’s books. Some libraries suggested they might have to ban children to keep them away from certain books.
Since then, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has delayed until next year the testing part of the law for many products.
But it kept in force provisions about allowable levels of lead and phthalates for those products, as well as penalties for anyone who sells items with higher levels. That has added to the confusion over how the new standard will be enforced.
Among those getting an exemption from testing under the revised guidelines are people who sell or make children’s products that usually don’t have high levels of lead — such as certain kids’ clothing made of wool and cotton and crafts made of natural woods.
Libraries also would get some relief. Children’s books printed after 1985 would be exempt. However, there is concern about the level of lead in the ink used in books printed before 1985.
Note that many of the banned books will still be under copyright protection, so they can’t be posted online. Note: several readers write to note that the ban isn’t really that sweeping, which is probably correct, but the ambiguity alone can’t be good.