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Are You Confused About CPSIA Regulations?

(February/March 2016) posted on Wed Mar 30, 2016

Eight years after the landmark safety legislation was enacted, questions and controversies remain.

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By Marcia Y. Kinter

The Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), enacted in August 2008, is still causing a great deal of confusion among specialty printers who manufacture children’s products. Many misunderstand what the regulatory puzzle means and who is responsible for which piece. Amendments that were passed in August 2011 did little to clarify the matter. And the CPSIA isn’t going away. Last December, President Obama signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, which contains a provision appropriating $1,000,000 in funds (available until September 2017) for the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) to reduce the costs of complying with the third-party testing requirement for certification of children’s products, a key element in the 2011 legislative amendments. While CPSC has taken small steps down this path, much work still remains to be accomplished.

Small Steps
One of the most confusing aspects of the regulations remains the use of what’s known as component part testing, which allows companies that manufacture products such as children’s printed apparel to test individual elements of a product (the ink, for example) in order to be certified rather than the product itself. The regulation gives companies that manufacture (meaning print, in the case of printed apparel) or import such goods the option of doing the testing themselves or relying upon tests conducted by a third party (such as the company that manufactured the ink), provided they complied with all CPSC regulatory requirements. This is obviously a key distinction for a garment or promotional products decorator, because the availability of acceptable third-party tests could lessen the burden of testing.

Some complained that the regulatory language was not flexible enough to allow for component part testing for the solubility of specified chemicals used on toy substrates, with the exception of testing the lead and phthalate content of paint. CPSC has issued new regulatory language specifically stating that component part testing may be used beyond lead and phthalate content.

But an important word on component part testing for the garment decoration community: It’s not mandatory. The manufacturer of the final product purchased by the consumer is the party responsible for ensuring that the product complies with the lead and/or phthalate content limits. The ink manufacturer is not required to provide testing information because the printer is ultimately responsible for compliance and providing the children’s product certificate.


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