CPSC Partially Exempts Kids’ Books and Clothes from CPSIA

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February 7th, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

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With the February 10, 2009, start of enforcement of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 just 3 days away, we are relieved to see that the Consumer Product Safety Commissions has issued a press release outlining exceptions for children’s books printed using ordinary processes from 1985 onwards and for children’s clothing manufactured using natural fibers.

This is great news as it should allow libraries and schools to avoid shutting down access children’s books and text books. Although it appears they may have to remove titles printed earlier than 1985, we suspect and hope that given the usual wear-and-tear on children’s books that this may not amount to much of their book collections.

Further, the new policy should mean CPSIA will not impact the sale of new children’s books printed using ordinary papers, cardstocks, and inks. This should be a relief for book publishers, especially small ones.

CPSC has also stated it will not impose penalties on making, importing, distributing, or selling children’s clothing using natural materials such as cotton, wool, wood, and certain metals and alloys that seldom if ever contain lead.

The policy basically shifts the default to testing is not required on the specified products because it is unlikely any of them would exceed the standard. Therefore much of the home-made clothing and crafts business should be let off the hook, although they may have to slightly modify how certain items are made to completely escape lead testing requirements.

Despite the announced exceptions, CPSC has stated that if somebody knowingly makes, imports, distributes, or sells the above mentioned products with lead above the 600ppm limit, they will still prosecute. This makes sense to us as we don’t believe it would be good for existing common manufacturing methods and materials for books and clothes to be intentionally loosened to the extent that new unsafe practices could be introduced.

However, there is still a risk that all of this sensible CPSC thinking could be undone by a lawsuit by a public interest group seeking to cause enforcement of the CPSIA law as originally intended. Further, the composition of the CPSC board could change and the newly announced policy be changed with only short notice, perhaps not much more than 30 days. Consequently, it still appears that Congress needs to act to revise CPSIA to better match realistic safety needs.

Further Reading

CPSC Spells Out Enforcement Policy For New Lead Limits In Children’s Products Effective February 10

Libraries in suspense over lead regulations

There’s a Difference Between a Policy and a Law

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