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US spells out strict new lead-content law for child products

By Adriana Stuijt     Feb 7, 2009 in World
Starting on February 10, 2009, products for children 12 and under cannot have more than 600 parts per million of lead or 0.1% of phtalates in any child-accessible part. These are the key rules of the US Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA).
Importantly, the law also applies to any child-products exported from the US from February 10 2009. Thus US manufacturers also would be unable to export any untested stock overseas after that date. This new lead- and phtalates-testing law has made the United States the world leader in assuring the safety of products intended for children - indeed this law now is so stringent that a top German toy manufacturer, known worldwide for its safe products, has withdrawn from the US market.
From February 10, 2009, all importers and exporters of children's products will have to supply certificates of compliance issued by the US government 's approved laboratories, showing that their products were tested for lead- and phtalate-content and were approved for use by children.
There has also been a wave of resistance among US manufacturers of children's books, children's toys and children's clothing against CPSIA - and a growing grass-roots movement in support of a newly-announced 'relief CPSIA bill,' which is expected to hit the Senate soon, and which would make amendments to the most stringent requirements for the relief of American homecrafters, handmade toy manufacturers and large manufacturers of children's clothes alike. For relief bill details, see here
Exporters of children's products must also have test certificates:
The law also applies to US manufacturers who export children's products, the Consumer Product Safety Commission warns.
The CPSIA act was spelled out by the Consumer Product Safety Commission in two press releases today - one outlining the law on lead-testing content, the second detailed exactly the maximum allowed phtalates content - usually these are found in plastic products.
Following is the press release for lead content:
"Starting on February 10, 2009, consumer products intended for children 12 and under cannot have more than 600 parts per million of lead in any accessible part. This new safety requirement is a key component of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) aimed at further reducing children's exposure to lead.
In an effort to provide clear and reasonable guidance to those impacted by this important law, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is announcing its enforcement policy on the lead limits established by the CPSIA.
Manufacturers, importers, distributors, and retailers should also be aware that CPSC will not impose penalties against anyone for making, importing, distributing, or selling:
**a children's product to the extent that it is made of certain natural materials, such as wood, cotton, wool, or certain metals and alloys which the Commission has recognized rarely, if ever, contain lead;
**an ordinary children's book printed after 1985; or
**dyed or undyed textiles (not including leather, vinyl or PVC) and non-metallic thread and trim used in children's apparel and other fabric products, such as baby blankets.
(The Commission generally will not prosecute someone for making, selling or distributing items in these categories even if it turns out that such an item actually contains more than 600 ppm lead.)
Sellers will not be immune from prosecution if CPSC's Office of Compliance finds that someone had actual knowledge that one of these children's products contained more than 600 ppm lead or continued to make, import, distribute or sell such a product after being put on notice. Agency staff will seek recalls of violative children's products or other corrective actions, where appropriate.
Electronic devices:
*The council will Issue an interim final rule effective February 10, 2009, which establishes alternative lead limits for certain electronic devices, in order to prevent unnecessary removal of certain children's products from store shelves.
*Will accept a manufacturer's determination that a lead-containing part on their product is inaccessible to a child and not subject to the new lead limits, if it is consistent with the Commission's proposed guidance or is based on a reasonable reading of the inaccessibility requirement. Paint and other coatings or electroplating are not considered barriers that make a component inaccessible.
This enforcement policy will remain in effect until superseded by action of the Commission.
Also applies to exported children's products
CPSC still expects companies to meet their reporting obligation under federal law and immediately tell the Commission if they learn of a children's product that exceeds the new lead limits starting on February 10, 2009. Companies also should know that the CPSIA generally prohibits the export for sale of children's products that exceed the new lead limits.
One-year stay:
As announced on January 30, 2009, the Commission approved a one year stay of enforcement for certain testing and certification requirements for manufacturers and importers. (see our previous story here)
Significant to makers of children's products, the 'stay' provides limited relief from the testing and certification for total lead content limits, phthalates limits for certain products and mandatory toy standards.
Manufacturers and importers - large and small - of children's products will not need to test or certify to these new requirements, but will still need to meet the lead and phthalates limits, mandatory toy standards and other requirements. Certification based on testing by an accredited laboratory is still required for painted children's products and soon will be required for children's metal jewelry, as well as certain other products for non-lead issues.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of serious injury or death from thousands of types of consumer products under the agency's jurisdiction.
The CPSC is committed to protecting consumers and families from products that pose a fire, electrical, chemical, or mechanical hazard or can injure children. The CPSC's work to ensure the safety of consumer products - such as toys, cribs, power tools, cigarette lighters, and household chemicals - contributed significantly to the 30 percent decline in the rate of deaths and injuries associated with consumer products over the past 30 years.
To report a dangerous product or a product-related injury, call CPSC's hotline at (800) 638-2772 or CPSC's teletypewriter at (800) 638-8270, or visit CPSC's web site at www.cpsc.gov/talk.html. To join a CPSC email subscription list, please go to http://www.cpsc.gov/cpsclist.aspx. Consumers can obtain this release and recall information at CPSC's Web site at http://www.cpsc.gov.
Phthalates Maximum Content Requirements In New Child Safety Law
Starting on February 10, 2009, children's toys and child care articles also cannot contain more that 0.1% of six phthalates (DEHP, DBP, BBP, DINP, DIDP, and DnOPA) regardless of when they were manufactured. The CPSC will abide by a court decision (pdf) issued yesterday ruling that the prohibition on phthalates in the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 applies to products in inventory. Phthalates are a group of chemicals (oily, colorless liquids) that are used among other things to make vinyl and other plastics soft and flexible.
A "children's toy" is defined in the statute as a product intended for a child 12 years of age or younger for use when playing. The Commission has previously stated that it will follow the definition of toy in the mandatory toy standard which exempts such things as bikes, playground equipment, musical instruments, and sporting goods (except for their toy counterparts).
Child-care articles:
The statute also prohibits phthalates over the limit in "child care articles," which include products that a child 3 and younger would use for sleeping, feeding, sucking or teething. By way of example, a pacifier/teether would be an item that would help a child with sucking or teething; a sippy cup would facilitate feeding; and a crib mattress would facilitate sleeping.
Companies must meet their reporting obligation under federal law and immediately tell the Commission if they learn of a children's toy or child care article that exceeds the new phthalates limits starting on February 10, 2009. Companies also should know that the CPSIA generally prohibits the export for sale of children's products that exceed the new phthalates limits.
To report a dangerous product or a product-related injury, call CPSC's hotline at (800) 638-2772 or CPSC's teletypewriter at (800) 638-8270, or visit CPSC's web site at www.cpsc.gov/talk.html.
To join a CPSC email subscription list, please go to www.cpsc.gov/cpsclist.aspx.
Consumers can obtain this release and recall information at CPSC's Web site at http://www.cpsc.gov.
More about Cpsia, Feb 2009 deadline, Consumer product safety
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