Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Lead is Feared in Children's Books

Those of us in the book business have been following the CPSC's position on CPSIA and books for a couple of months now, but today's Associated Press article on CPSIA and Libraries make it sound like it's new news to them.

This is the second article that I've read recently that uses this basic line in the middle of it: "Lead poisoning has been linked to irreversible learning disabilities and behavioral problems." In both articles, the comment is made in the midst of the article -- with no explanation. The statement is true, as far as it goes, but I would contend that it is inaccurate when taken out of context like this! Yes, lead poisoning has been linked to all sorts of problems. But fortunately, most of the things being taken off the market by CPSIA have not been linked to lead poisoning.

In fact, the CDC has been dealing with lead poisoning almost 20 years longer than the CPSC. And a health communications specialist at the CDC said lead-based ink in children's books poses little danger. She is quoted in the article as saying, "But on a scale of one to 10, this is like a 0.5 level of concern." Frankly, with their two track records, I take the CDC's word for that over the CPSC!

I would also think that Librarians would be good sources of information about what libraries are going through with their books. But the Houston librarian quoted in this article seems to think banning children's books printed before 1986 is no big deal: "Frankly, most of our books have been well-used and well-appreciated...They don't last 24 years." Maybe children in Texas are harder on their library books than they are here in Alabama...We find children's books in ours that were printed before 1986 on a regular basis -- in fact I bought 40 library books from a library not so long ago -- all more than 30 years old, and all in very good condition.

It is good to see books and CPSIA being addressed for a change -- now let's hope Congress will actually start listening to all the fuss sooner rather than later!


  1. A follow up article today reminded me that one of the CPSC spokespeople had also stated: "that until more testing is done, the nation’s more than 116,000 public and school libraries should take steps to ensure that children are kept away from books printed before 1985." Not surprisingly, the CPSC Chief has since said that the spokesperson misspoke.


  2. Another library gets concerned: Libraries Keeping an Eye on Legislation. The final quote from the County Librarian is very telling: "We're just all holding our breath, seeing that's going to happen," (I might understand the quote better if it was made BEFORE February 10...)


  3. Another Article about Books and Libraries, from 18 March, Lead Law Affects Books:

    And again we hear the disturbing news: "A new law, now on the books, reads that the most common books that may have lead, are those published before 1985. The Consumer Product Safety Commission wants libraries to set them aside for now."


    And so goes the story of a bad law...

  4. Another article on libraries and CPSIA:

    One librarian said of the issue: "I'm stumped that they have come up with this of all the crazy things they can think of as threats to children. This just isn't one of them."

    Another one said simply: "Honestly, in the how many decades since these books have been published, children have not been eating those particular books or ingesting anything,"


  5. "Dangerous Books"

    Libraries continue to get concerned about their books:
    "Ever wonder what is between the bindings of the books your kids are reading? Turns out it may not be the content you should be worried about, but what is literally printed on the pages could be dangerous.

    Now, one organization, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, is pushing for certain books to be pulled from the shelves at local libraries to have them tested for lead."

    If libraries don't ignore the law, results will be predictable: "For Guilderland and the Albany Public Library, also with 10,000 questionable books on its shelves, thats $3 Million alone in testing...'that would be a bigger cost than we could bear, which would mean 10,000 fewer books for kids to use.'"



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