On January 15, the Consumer Product Safety Commission responded to a directive from Congress to deliver a report outlining what it sees as the problems with the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act and offering suggestions for revisions. The request was part of last year’s Consolidated Appropriations Act.
The report acknowledges, among several other points, the challenges faced by libraries and used booksellers under the Act. “While most modern publishers can comply with the law with regard to the books they are printing today, the Commission has tested older books and found books printed in the 1970s and earlier that exceed the lead limits,” the Commission writes. “The retroactive applicability of the lead limits [in the Act] creates problems for libraries and used book stores because some older books were printed with inks containing lead in excess of the new lead content limits.”
In the report, the Commission also concurs, in part, with the publishing industry’s contention that “ordinary”—not book-plus or novelty—books should be exempt. It notes that it has provided some relief for publishers and sellers of newer ordinary children’s books, but not those printed before 1985. “In order to address this issue,” the report says, “Congress may, with some limitations, choose to consider granting an exclusion for ordinary children’s books and other children’s paper-based printed materials.”
The report may lead Congress to amend the law or allow the Commission more discretion in interpreting it. For more on the CPSIA and how it affects the publishing industry, see our recent year-in-review story.