Thursday, August 13, 2009

Happy Birthday CPSIA!

The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 was signed into law one year ago today. This complex legislation addresses a wide range of product safety issues, many of them aimed at keeping children safe. Provisions of the new Act and new standards will be coming into effect gradually over the next few years. But on this day, the anniversary of the Act, several new provisions go into effect. Here's our take on the new requirements:

Reduced lead levels: Total lead content drops from 600 parts per million (ppm) to 300ppm and surface coatings and paint drops to 90ppm allowable lead. While children are exposed to lead from a wide variety of sources -- the most pervasive is in housing stock -- lead poisoning is cumulative, so even a small amount of lead from a toy or necklace adds to what the child has already been exposed to. The American Academy of Pediatrics has repeatedly addressed the risk lead poses to our children and the fact that there is no safe level of lead. CPSC has put in place exemptions to the lead testing requirement and continue to offer guidance on this issue.

Higher civil penalty limits: The CPSIA gives CPSC's ability to fine companies for violations real teeth by raising the limits from a $1.8 million maximum to $15 million. This larger potential penalty might just encourage more manufacturers to play by the rules, rather than accepting small penalty amounts as the cost of doing business.

Tracking labels on children's products: Every time there is a recall of a children's product, especially one that goes back many years, KID and probably CPSC and the company gets many calls and emails -- is my product part of the recall? Older models often have no identifying markers that can show with certainty which products are recalled and which are safe. With the new tracking labels, not only will consumers be able to tell more easily if their item is recalled, but manufacturers will be able to target recalls more narrowly since identical looking items can be sorted by the information on the tracking label. We applaud all the hard work manufacturers are doing to comply with this important safety measure.

Catalog labeling: With more shopping done through the mail or online, CPSIA will now require that the same warning labels that appear on the front of the package when you buy a toy in the store must also appear in the print catalog and on the internet. This allows parents to consider that safety information before they purchase a toy, rather than after the fact.

In addition, two new mandatory standards for bath seats and infant walkers will be out within the next few weeks for comments. The CPSIA, in a section named after Danny Keysar whose parents founded KID, requires CPSC to draft and publish new mandatory standards for infant and toddler durable goods.

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