PORTLAND -- Some local retailers believe a lead testing law that will take effect in less than three weeks will destroy their business.

Retailers concerned about lead testing law

The Northwest Children's Business Alliance called lead testing important but said the new Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act law as written was "too vague."

Some 100 people packed a children's store in Northeast Portland to discuss the possibility of delaying new federal regulations on lead testing children's toys. Business owners said they feel the federal law should be modified.

The new legislation was passed in August 2008 and is set to be enacted Feb. 10. It was designed to protect children from unsafe toys by requiring tests for lead and other unsafe materials in plastic.

But the group of local retailers, many of whom are also parents, said the law forgot to exclude toys and goods made in the United States, Canada and Europe. The group also believes the law should exclude natural products like wood and cotton.

Labeling requirements are vague and not defined in the act as it is written now, according to Northwest Children's Business Alliance, and testing all items covered under the legislation would cost local small businesses thousands of dollars they can ill afford during a recession.

"We realized that it was so broad reaching and so poorly defined that it's impact on ethical domestic manufacturers, European manufacturers and Canadian manufacturers and such that it was really going to pull these people out of the market place, and in some cases, put these people out of business all together," said Tony Fuentes, owner of Milagros Baby Boutique.

The group said testing is important but that lawmakers forgot to exclude goods that deserve the public's trust.

The business alliance contacted Congressman Earl Blumenauer to protest the law's enactment.

In Seattle, 70 designers are taking a class action lawsuit against the federal government.

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