• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Tales of the Red Tape #4: The Unwitting Peddlers of Toxic Tomes

    Pity the poor librarians. Those gentle custodians of the written word currently find themselves in a regulatory purgatory of sorts wherein compliance with hellish safety standards threatens to defy their hallowed purpose of providing books for all.

    It is a dilemma borne of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, which prohibits even minute levels of lead in any product intended primarily for children 12 years of age or younger. That includes millions of children’s books printed with leaded ink. (Use of the metal in ink dates back centuries—including publication of the Gutenberg New Testament.)

    Although lead in ink was phased out in the late 1970s, there’s no date certain when it was abandoned altogether. Consequently, the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) deems any children’s book printed prior to 1986 to be potentially toxic and thus unfit for library circulation, the Goodwill store, or your neighbor’s garage sale.

    According to the CPSC: “[T]he Commission has tested older books and found books printed in the 1970s and earlier that exceed the lead limits. The retroactive applicability of the lead limits creates problems for libraries and used book stores because some older books were printed with inks containing lead in excess of the new lead content limits.”

    However, the actual risk of lead exposure from older books ranks only about 0.5 on a scale of one to 10, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nonetheless, the CPSC has urged libraries to put older children’s books in storage until they can be tested for lead toxicity—at a cost of $300 to $500 each.

    Posted in Economics [slideshow_deploy]

    5 Responses to Tales of the Red Tape #4: The Unwitting Peddlers of Toxic Tomes

    1. Scott says:

      Can we say a concentrated effort to remove from access any books which might contradict the Liberal's new version of "History"? Remove any books printed prior to 1986. Even if it's just children's books, you're looking at removing great educational and moral series like "The Hardy Boy's Mysteries", "Nancy Drew", "The Adventures of Tarzan", "Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn", and so many many more. Books that were not only a great adventure, albeit without all the gore and sexual inuiendo that are rife in today's young teen's series, but books that also taught an important moral lesson in each read.

      I have many of these books in my personal library, and will actively collect as many as I can. Because if these great texts can only be preserved in private libraries, then I will do my part. For those of you who aren't worried because these books survive in "electronic book" form, I ask you this. What happens if the worst comes, and we lose access to that technology? Books don't require batteries, they don't suffer from data loss, and once printed, are not subject to change or censorship. In fact, properly cared for, they can last centuries.

      I am a collector of old books. Doesn't matter if the information in them is "current", or "valid". I firmly believe that someday, I'm going to need to find some obsolete piece of information or technology for some reason. And I am quite secure in my belief that it is somewhere in my library of real books, just waiting to be rediscovered.

    2. Pingback: The Obama Administration’s Regulatory Nightmare « American Elephants

    3. Gerald, in Texas says:

      Now, wouldn't those books be the ones with the least liberal content?

      Wouldn't those books be most likely to contain Christian, Patriotic or conservative Moral content?

      It is an attempt to manipulate our children's vulnerable minds, not a desire to protect them from lead. There is more danger to them just walking thru the door!

      The socialists in office have a focused agenda, and that is POWER.

    4. Pingback: CARE Act Would Rob Wineries of Commerce Clause Protections | The Foundry

    5. @wingsinger says:

      This would be a problem if the children were eating the books, but when was the last time you saw a twelve year old child eating what he or she was reading? Bureaucracy at its finest here.

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.