It's for the children

New regulations around the testing and sale of children's toys take effect this week, with predictable confusion. Thrift shop owners and small manufacturers are hollering that the testing costs will put them out of business, mini-bike makers and others are lobbying for exemptions, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued guidelines that, so far as I can tell, fail to answer a simple question like: "Do all children's products require testing?"

What's likely to happen is that the toy megaliths who started this mess by importing toxic junk from China will be able to comply with the new laws, substituting chemicals with as yet undetermined toxicity for chemicals proven to be toxic, while small toymakers -- often those using wood and simple, non-toxic stains, will go out of business.


Check out this story about a family in Columbus, Ohio handcrafting toys from wood and finishing them with flaxseed oil (which is safe, even edible). They can't afford to test all their products, and they were banking on a year's reprieve while regulators sort out the unintended consequences, but a federal judge has nixed that hope. They and a lot of other small businesses are fighting back, but will anyone listen?

It would certainly be ironic if regulations aimed at protecting children cause a decline in safe, wooden toys, and an upsurge in plastic, chemical-laden junk. Then again, Washington specializes in irony, doesn't it?

Presented by

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

A Stop-Motion Tour of New York City

A filmmaker animated hundreds of still photographs to create this Big Apple flip book

Video

The Absurd Psychology of Restaurant Menus

Would people eat healthier if celery was called "cool celery?"

Video

This Japanese Inn Has Been Open For 1,300 Years

It's one of the oldest family businesses in the world.

Video

What Happens Inside a Dying Mind?

Science cannot fully explain near-death experiences.

More in Business

Just In