Enforcement of new lead testing rules halted for one year

The federal Consumer Product Safety Commission on Friday agreed to wait one year before enforcing new lead testing rules for the makers and importers of products for children 12 and under. The new law, set to take effect Feb. 10, has had Asheville-area book sellers, toy retailers, crafters and even libraries worried about the rules’ impact on them.

The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act became law in August 2008 as U.S. lawmakers responded to a series of massive recalls in 2007 of mostly Chinese-made toys containing lead. The new rules require that all books, toys and handmade crafts be tested for lead, regardless of where they’re manufactured.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the reprieve “gives the staff more time to finalize four proposed rules which could relieve certain materials and products from lead testing and to issue more guidance on when testing is required and how it is to be conducted.”

The decision means that “manufacturers and importers – large and small – of children’s products will not need to test or certify to these new requirements, but will need to meet the lead and phthalates limits, mandatory toy standards and other requirements,” according to the commission. “However, all businesses, including, but not limited to, handmade toy and apparel makers, crafters and home-based small businesses, must still be sure that their products conform to all safety standards and similar requirements, including the lead and phthalates provisions of the CPSIA.”

Products for children must be tested to make sure that lead levels are below 600 parts per million, according to the new law, which also covers the use of phthalates, a chemical used to soften plastic. The new phthalates limit is 1,000 parts per million.

The commission noted that “the stay of enforcement on testing and certification does not address thrift and second hand stores and small retailers because they are not required to test and certify products under the CPSIA.”

The stay will remain in effect until Feb. 10, 2010, when the commission plans to vote on whether to end the enforcement stay.

Click here to read the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s news release.

Click here to go to the Xpress Files and read the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act.

— Jason Sandford, multimedia editor


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