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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/9413/government-bans-books-published-before-1985/

Government Bans Books Published Before 1985?

February 10, 2009 by

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.


Coury Ditch February 10, 2009 at 2:03 pm

The CPSC was off by one year, they meant to say 1984.

Tim February 10, 2009 at 3:34 pm

My father, his father before him, his grandfather, and all my ancestors since the beginning of the written word have read books and lived normal healthy lives in the absence of any bodily harm caused by reading books. Apparently things are different now, according to the CPSC.

What does it mean “libraries will get some relief”? Oh so only a portion of their books will be burned?

Unfortunately none of this would matter as children these days hardly read books, and Harry Potter was written after 1985 as far as I know. Good job in making the next generation even less literate than before.

Jardinero1 February 10, 2009 at 5:17 pm

Those kids should be watching TV or playing video games anyway.

nazgulnarsil February 10, 2009 at 5:41 pm

I assume the main point of this is to keep children from reading 1984 and noting all the parallels. Of course 1984 wasn’t published in 1984, but politicians are stupid.

Heh February 10, 2009 at 5:46 pm

Heh, 1984 was the first thing to come to mind here too… funny coincidence huh.

David February 10, 2009 at 8:16 pm

As much as the 1984 joke works, I still think Huxley’s “Brave New World” is a much more accurate picture of the soup we are in.

Chris February 10, 2009 at 11:03 pm

Animal Farm works too.

Deefburger February 11, 2009 at 12:50 am

And Hitchhiker’s Guide to the galaxy. Remember the Vorgon’s “Public” posting of the plan to demolish Earth?

Alvaro February 11, 2009 at 6:38 am

Hmmm… guess we’ll have to give away all those poisonous books then.

deputyheadmistress February 12, 2009 at 10:58 pm

You might find CPSC Commisioner Thomas Moore’s letter to congress interesting:
There’s a bunch of politicking as he seeks to retain his job (Congress is calling for his boss to go), and yet he has to admit there is not much they can legally do about the books. He is pleased to announce that his staff has found a “‘bright line’ to guide libraries as to what books we will deem not to pose a problem and which ones should be sequestered” pending further scientific evidence proving that the books are safe.

EJ February 18, 2009 at 11:11 pm

Snopes quotes the CPSC as stating that the testing requirement only applies to products made after Feb 10, 2009.


Here’s the CPSC Clarification document they link to (posted Feburary 08, 2009):

EG February 19, 2009 at 7:45 am

What we need to know is what can each and every concerned individual do that is effective to stop this loss of treasured literature. I am from Canada but it affects us too as we rely a lot on book sellers from the U.S. to find many of our books for homeschooling.

GW February 21, 2009 at 7:12 am

I posted about this CPSA issue and included a reply I received from my Senator. Secondhand goods will be exempt. See

Hope that helps.

Barbara Gifford March 2, 2009 at 8:27 pm

You can check at overlawyered.com for more updates on this. It is not only books and thrifts at stake. Very sad state of affairs on this.
Also read http://nationalbankruptcyday.com/ and cpsiahurtskids.com
The issue is getting bigger.

Valerie Jacobsen March 3, 2009 at 8:42 am

Snopes uses their “false” assessment to address a very narrow technical point on testing; it is very misleading for anyone who doesn’t already know the issues and then take the time to parse their full analysis.

I’m covering CPSIA and books at bookroomblog.com and have opened cpsiahurtskids.com to show that this is not the benign and loving effort that one would, uh, expect from government. It hurts kids.

This legislation is expected to damage 60-80% of American businesses, but more importantly, CPSIA is known to be harmful to children, first, because American businesses supply the wealth that provides for the daily needs of American children.

Our businesses are owned by parents and grandparents, and they employ more parents and grandparents. Our businesses are the direct source of income that provides children with food, clothing, housing, educational equipment, hobby supplies, and toys, including birthday and Christmas gifts.

Congress has acted contrary to the interests of American children and has, with CPSIA, initiated an assault against them. As CPSIA damages and decimates American businesses, as CPSIA shrinks the parental purse, American children feel the effects.

CPSIA is also a problem for our children because it has essentially put a barrier between them and some of the best children’s products ever manufactured. In the case of used products or specialty products, the effect is devastation, but all areas of children’s products are severely affected.

The assault against pre-1985 books is especially troubling. Especially as it affects books *printed* before 1960 (which are, oh yes, still read by children), and without civil disobedience, CPSIA has the potential to nearly silence a world view from our heritage of children’s literature.

(Honestly, if you want to bring up a patriot, a few hundred volumes of pre-1960 children’s biographies make a very effective tool.)

Al Veerhoff March 29, 2009 at 11:28 pm

Is there any evidence, anywhere, that children have suffered lead poisoning from reading books? From eating them?

Barbara Gifford March 31, 2009 at 2:36 pm

Al Veerhoff,
The answers are no and no.
If you search the CDC site there is not one concern about lead in books.

As far as lead goes, the information about toys specifically mentions two sources: toys that are made in foreign countries and painted toys handed down by previous generations that likely have lead in the paint.

A third source of lead from toys does not have anything to do with the toy except that it was dropped and collected lead dust from the old paint in the home and was not cleaned before going in a child’s mouth.

There are a few interesting things at the CDC.gov site if you want to know about surface soil, drinking water and mining.

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