CPSIA: What must be tested

Previous entries are here, here, here and here. These links will be repeated at close.

In this portion I’ll explain which classes of products need to be tested, if they need to be tested and how this is effected. This first part will deal with kid’s products. Even if you don’t make kids products per se, please humor me and read it because some obscure things can affect you and you don’t want any nasty surprises.

Children’s wear:
Not everything is tested equally under this new law so pay close attention. If you are currently making a product that falls under other CPSC guidelines such as for flammability, you can continue to use component testing for those attributes. You are also permitted to use vendor supplied third party certifications for product integrity. However, the lead and phthalate aspects are different. For lead and phthalate, unit testing is required; this is separate and apart from flammability and draw cords and what not.

What must be tested: Lead
All sewn products intended for use of children 12 and younger must be unit tested for lead at this time. Lobbying groups are looking for exclusions for certain categories of goods like tee shirts. Toward the end of proving lead is not a dangerous element in kid’s apparel, I have been asked to make a request of you. If you have any lead or phthalate test results from a certified laboratory, please send them to me and I’ll pass them along.

Another question I’ve been asked is, “can I use my supplier’s third party certifications to comply with the lead and phthalate law instead of testing it myself”. The answer is no. You cannot. I mean, not for lead and phthalates but you can for flammability etc.

A note to adult clothing producers:
Sure, you read 12 and under and breathe a sigh of relief thinking this doesn’t apply to you but don’t be so quick. From now on, I will be recommending that everyone place a line of copy on their hang tags and on their order form that reads “This product is not intended for use by children aged 12 and under.” The reason is, you really have no assurances that it won’t be. Maybe a twelve year old is mature and likes your stuff or mom buys it and gives it to her. If you don’t actively market your product as intended for adults, you may have to test your products too. Two of the panel speakers (Rachel Murray Meyer and Carol Pollack Nelson) provided some provocative ideas about age grading, human factor assessments and targeted age related marketing that could trip you up. For example, considering how popular the application of Swarovski crystals on tee shirts has become, particularly with tweens… well, I think that’s enough said. If you didn’t know, the crystals are almost entirely lead.

What must be tested: Phthalates
Since we’re just doing sewn products, I’ll restrict my comments to that. Phthalates are a plasticizing agent. It can (potentially) be found in several child related products. Not all children’s items must be tested, only certain categories and then, only products intended for children aged 3 and younger (caveat on the age disclaimer above applies). Specifically, sewn products that are described as “child care” items must be tested. These include items such as bibs, diapers or diaper covers, footed pajamas etc. In other words, such items that contain plastics or plastic coated materials.

That’s all for now; I have every confidence you’ll let me know if I missed anything.

Related Entries:
New product safety regulations that affect all manufacturers
CPSIA Requirements
National Bankruptcy Day
CPSIA: Unit vs Component Testing

Related in the forum:
CPSIA & Consumer Safety. Nicknamed the War Room. Open to the public. Click through for up to the minute news and updates. With a focus on activism, there’s 60 different sections and well over 1,000 postings.

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  1. Esther says:

    One thing I am still confused about in regards to pthalate testing is the testing of textiles. Is there a test for pthalates in textiles? What about bibs or diapers that are made entirely out of 100% cotton except for maybe snaps or velcro. There doesn’t seem to be an exemption for that scenario.

  2. Jess says:

    Kathleen, thank you so much for all of the information you’ve gathered and time you have put into this – not to mention your upcoming trip! I’ve donated what I can at this point in time as a small thanks – not much but hopefully it will help defray your costs a tiny bit. Thank you again!

  3. Stephanie says:

    I’m still very confussed. I design and hand print baby onesies and toddler tees. I use non toxic inks. What kind of testing will have to be done on my shirts? I’m getting random answers from different sites and it has me very worried that I will have to shut down my business.

  4. Michelle says:

    I am also confused. I make hair bows and sell them on my website, ebay, etsy, etc. The fees of these places is enough for me, then having to test them for lead? Why should fabric and ribbon contain lead anyways KNOWING that it has the chance to be made for children under the age of 12? If I have to test every hair bow I made, or every component made into the hair bow, etc, I would have to more than double the cost of my items, and then no one will buy them. So, then, (not in my case, but people are in this situation) there are families that won’t eat, etc, because they already spent their profit (because they do this for a source of income) on getting their products tested, etc. If I have to shut down my business, no biggie for me, as I can still make them for my daughter. She hasn’t put anything in her mouth since she was 9 months old, and she is now in school. So, clothing stores are to be tested to? If that is the case, wouldn’t that raise the prices of clothing, then NO one would be able to afford clothing. LOL… this is all very confusing to me as well.

  5. Kris says:

    Wow.. this is all so overwhelming! I make bags that hold dirty diapers, swim suits, etc – they are waterproof. Do these bags need to be tested? They aren’t used by kids, but rather for them by caregivers. If they do need to be tested, then would each color zipper and each different fabric print that I use need to be tested? this seems crazy!

  6. Pam says:

    I make hair bows. Does this apply to me? A stay at home mom? trying to make grocery money? Plain silly!!! It would put me out of business!!!

  7. Kathleen Fasanella says:

    It is beyond the scope of ANYONE’S capability to list every potential product. Therefore it is defined in broad terms. If it’s a child’s product, it is affected. This would include hair bows.

    Also please see this entry:

  8. Dee says:

    I’m confused along with everybody else. I hand knit childrens clothes, from newborn, up. I also knit toys. Most of my yarn is from Europe. Will I need to have everything tested, if so I need to find another way to put food on the table.

  9. Marci Kinter says:

    Good post on this subject. To add to the post, the phtalate issue and the lead issue are separate and distinct. The pthalate issue is an outright ban on the use of identified phthaltes. From a clothing perspective, Kathleen is correct, only applies to garments intended for use by children under 3.

    For the lead certification issue, the Specialty Graphic Imaging Association is sending a letter to the CPSC General Counsel requesting clarification regarding lead certification and printed apparel.

  10. Sarah Burns says:

    I make an item that will first be marketed to children/teens but they are for the bathroom, towels specifically. They would not wear or play with them. Do you know if they need to be tested? Anyone I can call?

  11. Kathleen says:

    If it is intended to be USED -not necessarily worn or played with- by or for children aged 12 or younger, it must be tested. See the other entries in this series that explain in more detail.

  12. Brenda says:

    I own a small consignment shop in a small town. How will this effect my consignment shop with the children’s items that are brought in to sell? There are new and gently used childrens clothing, shoes, toys, belts, ect….

  13. Dolores F. says:

    I am getting email notice that some suppliers are going/promoting “green” products. One has dropped all children’s denim(imported) clothing. I do not use paints or additional dyes. Crystals only on adult items. I only embroider on pre-made clothing(i.e. embellish) with a thread that I have been told meets lead/CP standards. I still can’t tell with all this confusion where I stand in all of this. Thank you for the caveat re: product not intended for us by child 12 or younger. What about the child that wears a small adult size? I have no way of knowing. Will all garments be white and 100% cotton only? Appreciate all the work you are doing on this important but very confusing issue for us – the small biz person out here. Leave it to a politican to confuse everyone. Dolores F.

  14. laura says:

    I’m still confused. There are so many forums out there discussing this issue and many are saying that component testing will be suitable, at least until August. So, with my organic bamboo diapers, all components for which I have certs from the fabric wholesaler, I will still have to have end unit testing. Correct? I just can’t seem to actually find a clear definitive answer because technically, my product doesn’t facilitate sleep, teething or feeding and it’s definitely not a toy.

    I’ve also read elsewhere that items that are handmade in the USA may be exempt. Any truth to this?

    I just can’t seem to keep everything straight and my mind is spinning from reading everything, so I apologize if I’m posting this in the wrong area, or if I’ve missed the section that has these answers.

  15. Pam says:

    I read that phthalates testing deals with childrens items (3 and under) that “facilitate sleep” (sleepers…etc…) (sorry if I spelled wrong) or helps with feeding (bibs, etc…) OR toys, things they can put into their mouths.

  16. Marci Kinter says:

    For lead testing, the CPSC has yet to develop a certification method for children’s garments, ie those intended for 12 and under. Based on their information, this will not be completed until June 2009 — with that in mind, products must meet general conformity certification requirements. Right now, the certification is for the product, not individual components.

    Remember, the phtallate ban only does apply to chilidren’s products under the age of 3 that faciliate sleep or feeding BUT the lead issue applies to all children’s products under the age of 12, regardless of whether or not it is a toy.

  17. Marci Kinter says:

    The CPSIA applies to children’s products — under the pthalate issue — it is only products for children under 3 that facilitate sleep or eating, for lead- all children’s products under 12, including hair bows. That is my understanding.

  18. Sapphy says:

    I’m just posting this Swarovski info to let every else know, since I am sure it is info all of us could use. The led in Swarovski’s glass crystal does not pose the same serious health risks that metallic led does, but, irritattingly enough, for those selling it to anyone in CA, a warning sticker must accompany the item. Apparently, according to this web site and trusted supplier of many jewelry making parts, this also applies to a lack of severe health concerns regarding the led in fiber optics as well (cat’s eye beads) yet this to needs a sticker. Grrr.

    I’m still not sure if the new 90 ppm led content limit will affect the use of Swarovski. My second concern is the use of adhesives, everyone knows that glue’s are used in jewelry making of all kinds and the California led law states adhesives can’t be used with natural materials. That can not possibly be true. Why can’t they leave us starving artists alone? I mean, HELLO, were STARVING already, do they want us naked and homeless, too? LOL!

    Anyway, if anyone finds out if the new CPSIA requirements of 90 ppm will effect the California 600 ppm limit, could ya let me know please? Thanks. Email me or post it here, I’ll see it eventually. Now that I have found fashion incubator I will be around a lot!!! LOL!

  19. Christy says:

    I really don’t understand… it looks like the suppliers that we buy our supplies from would be responsible for the testing of ribbon and other items. Thus we as individuals would not be required to test. By the way, where would testing be done? Is there a kit or something? I totally do not understand…lol

  20. Dan Porges says:

    I am a Business Development Manager for Bureau Veritas Consumer Products Services, one of the laboratories that is supposed to be testing all these products. I would really like to arrange some access to accurate and detailed information for all of you to benefit from. Right in the middle there is a place to sign up for our COMPLETELY FREE bulletins and webinar announcements where you will likely find much more detailed information, and a forum to ask additional questions. While I am certainly not able to make this any less of a pain, I will do my best to make it less confusing!!

  21. Marci Kinter says:

    Just a quick note to make sure all know about the CPSC stay on testing and certification for certain children’s products. It does impact textiles. However, it must be pointed out that the stay only impacts the testing and certification requirements, not the requirement to meet the lead and pthalate limits.

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