There has been much discussion of the federal rules recently enacted governing the testing for lead and phthalates in toys that may be required of toy manufacturers as well as crafters. However, the available information is still unclear as to how these rules may affect small woodworking groups that donate toys to various charitable organizations or even if they apply. Can you shed light on the current situation as well as the likely future responsibilities that these woodworking clubs will be subject to? – Tom Delia
Joanna Werch Takes: The “rules” to which you are referring are the law known as the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). Due to much confusion and concern about issues like those you presented, the date on which the law goes into effect has been delayed again: requirements for third party certifications of testing for lead and phthalates in most children’s items now do not go into effect until Feb. 10, 2011.
This has been aimed at manufacturers of items for children ages 0 to 12; you are right that the question of how this law will impact, or whether it will affect, woodworking organizations which donate toys is unclear. Your best source of information is likely the Handmade Toy Alliance.
The push for component testing addressed in that article – so that a finished piece can be tested, rather than each component used in it – has also been adopted. Still, good record-keeping of products made, and items used in their making, seems to be a good idea to follow any documentation required by the law.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission’s summaries of the CPSIA can be found here: https://www.cpsc.gov
Tim Inman: I rely on my suppliers. I figure if they can sell it to me, labeled for use on toys, then I can safely use it. Keep a record of your work, and keep working.