Chemical rules in kids products cause panic

The incoming anti-toxic chemical rules in children’s products, which will become effective February 10, is causing several protests this week especially in NYC.

The rules are part of the Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) which was passed last year as a result of the massive recalls of toys and other consumer good products tainted with lead and other supposed toxic chemicals.

For lead content and pthalate limit rules, manufacturers and importers are required to issue testing and certification that newly manufactured or imported childrens products for 12 years old and under comply with the requirements.

The problem, according to several manufacturers, retailers and small business owners, is that existing inventory products that have not been tested or certified on their lead or pthalate content should no longer be sold or distributed. Products can include toys, garments, kids’ furniture, jewelry, accessories and even books.Everybody within the retail, manufacturing and even librarians and children’s book publishers are in a dither on how to comply to the incoming rule. Thrift stores, second hand shops and craft makers are also afraid of becoming out of business, according to various internet reports.

After several requests and protests from trade groups, small business owners, and lobbyists, the CPSC decided last week Friday to extend the testing and certification deadline requirment for one more year, which could provide temporary relief for crafters, children’s garment manufacturers and toy makers.

Manufacturers and importers – large and small – of children’s products will not need to get testing and certification for these new requirements, but will still need to meet the lead content (600 ppm) and phthalates (1000 ppm for certain products) limits, as well as other mandatory toy standards and other requirements, according to the CPSC.

Handmade garment makers are cautioned whether the zippers, buttons and other fasteners they are using contain lead. CPSC said handmade toy manufacturers need to know whether their products, if using plastic or soft flexible vinyl, contain phthalates.

Unfortunately for thrift and second hand stores and small retailers, the temporary deadline extension is not applied to them, according to CPSC. These section of the industry were not previously regulated by CPSC.

“The products they sell, including those in inventory on February 10, 2009, must not contain more than 600 ppm lead in any accessible part. The Commission is aware that it is difficult to know whether a product meets the lead standard without testing and has issued guidance for these companies that can be found on our web site.” – CPSC

Extensions or not, many in the retail sector are asking the CPSC to postpone the testing and certification requirements until the agency can propose specific designated test procedures and clearer and well-developed final regulations are first necessary to enable compliance determinations and effective enforcement.

“The chaotic application of yet-to-be established legal requirements to current inventories at retail potentially threatens to render obsolete billions of dollars of legally produced products already introduced into interstate commerce,” the National Association of Manufacturers (NMA) said.

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