Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Brethren Press responds to ruling about lead in children’s products.

Brethren Press and Gather ’Round, the curriculum jointly produced by Brethren Press and the Mennonite Publishing Network, are working under a tight timeline to meet new requirements for testing for lead and other chemicals in children’s products, and certification of children’s products including books and other printed materials.

A recent act of congress has set a year’s deadline to prevent the presence of lead and phthalate, and other potential health hazards in children’s products. The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) has set the new requirements for testing and certification of children’s products that are sold or distributed in the United States. The deadline for compliance was originally Feb. 10, 2009, but recently a one-year stay of enforcement was announced. The act affects not only publishers but libraries and schools that own books for children.

Under the CPSIA, "we would be liable if it were discovered that any products we sell contain lead over the legislated maximum," said Anna Speicher, editor for Gather ’Round. "We would never want to produce and sell a product that would pose a health hazard to anyone," she said. "However, all indications so far are that the US printing industry is not using paper or inks that contain levels of hazardous substances anywhere near the mininum amounts specified by law."

The curriculum and Brethren Press will be seeking third-party certification of their products for children, which are printed by a variety of companies. "We were heartened by the reactions from the printers who appear to be taking the view that it is their responsibility to provide any necessary testing and certification," Speicher said. "Further, it does not appear to be the case that we need to test every product, but rather that a testing program needs to be in place and the paper and inks we use would need to be certified as sufficiently lead-free."

Brethren Press already has received certification on two of its stronger selling children’s titles, "Faith the Cow" and "Benjamin Brody's Backyard Bag." Both titles have passed the requirements, reported Jeff Lennard, director of Marketing and Sales.

The publishing industry has filed a request to be exempted from the act on the grounds that regular books do not present any kind of a health threat. The request is being filed through the Association of American Publishers, an organization whose members include large and small publishers of children’s books in the consumer marketplace, nonprofits, and publishers of instructional and assessment materials for students at all levels of education.

Source: 4/8/2009 Newsline

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