Tuesday, 02 August 2011 | Andi Sporkin

Washington, D.C.; August 2, 2011 — Only hours after the House of Representatives’ overwhelming 421-2 vote on August 1 to exclude ordinary children’s reading books and children’s paper-based reading and learning materials from the lead-content third-party testing requirements of the 2008 Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), the Senate passed the bill under unanimous consent agreement by voice vote.

The bill now goes to President Obama.

The Association of American Publishers, the industry’s national trade organization, applauded the work of and decisions by Congress.

“These swift and virtually unanimous votes reinforce our longstanding position that the inclusion of ordinary books and similar materials in CPSIA’s sweeping definition of ‘children’s products’ requiring lead testing was inadvertent and misplaced,” said Allan Adler, Vice President for Legal and Government Affairs, AAP.

“Children’s books, which are vital to literacy and educational development, have never been associated with lead exposure concerns yet were caught up in this legislation at the outset,” Adler added. “We appreciate Congress’s recognition of this problem and the ability to finally, effectively separate these critical learning tools from the breadth of products that do require testing to ensure the safety of America’s children.”

AAP thanked the House Energy and Commerce Committee and its Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade which led the 421-2 vote to exclude the materials from H.R. 2715. It was introduced by Subcommittee Chair Mary Bono Mack (R-CA) and Ranking Member G.K. Butterfield (D-NC) with the support of full Committee Chair Fred Upton (R-MI) and Ranking Member Henry Waxman (D-CA) and was considered under a suspension of the rules. AAP also acknowledged the bipartisan leadership of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and its Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Insurance Subcommittee.

Following news reports of toys from China containing dangerous levels of toxic lead, CPSIA was enacted to impose stringent requirements for lead-content testing and certification standards of all toys and children’s products, including retroactively. Despite no history or reports of harmful exposure to lead and no previous Commission regulation, traditional reading books and similar materials for children such as posters, bookmarks and flashcards were swept into this overarching definition. Books with inherent play value as their primary purpose, designed for children under three years of age, and toys and other play items produced to complement books will undergo testing and certification.

Since 2008, AAP has led a coalition of U.S. children’s book publishers, printers, manufacturers and their suppliers that has worked with the CPSC on these issues. More information about AAP’s position on CPSIA and its efforts are at http://publishers.org/issues/1/18/