The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) regulates all children’s products (for 12-year-olds or younger) imported, manufactured, and sold in the United States. In this guide, we explain what importers and manufacturers must know about CPSIA requirements.
More specifically, the guide covers the product scope, mandatory safety standards, certification, tracking labeling, and labeling requirements.
The article also explains how businesses and consumers can determine if a certain product is non-CPSIA compliant.
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What is CPSIA?
The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 establishes consumer product safety standards and safety requirements for children’s products among other things. It does so by amending parts of the CPSA, including some of the CPSC statutes.
The CPSC, in turn, gives effect to the CPSIA and its amendments by issuing regulations that affect importers and manufacturers.
The CPSIA is split into two parts based on what it affects:
a. The first title concerns children’s products
b. The second title relates to the administrative functioning of the CPSC and enhances its enforcement authority
Title I – Children’s product safety
The first title of the CPSIA contains sections 101 to 108 which introduces the reader to the main provisions affecting importers and manufacturers of children’s products. The following title I sections are listed in the table below, including a brief description of each section’s contents.
|Section title||Description of the section’s content|
|Sec. 101 – Children’s products containing lead; lead paint rule||This section contains the general ban on lead. Under the general ban, if a children’s product contains more lead than the established limit, then it may be treated as a banned hazardous substance under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act (FHSA).
The section also sets out conditions for the exclusion of certain materials or products and inaccessible component parts from the general lead ban.
Additionally, it made an existing rule regarding lead paint and similar surface-coating materials more stringent.
|Sec. 102 – Mandatory third-party testing for certain children’s products||The CPSIA amends the CPSA and makes importers and manufacturers affected by any act enforced by the CPSC issue a general conformity certificate.
Additionally, it introduces third-party testing requirements for children’s products. This meant that importers and manufacturers of such products would have to engage an accredited third-party conformity assessment body to test the product and issue a certificate (known as the Children’s Product Certificate) proving compliance with all the applicable children’s product safety rules.
|Sec. 103 – Tracking labels for children’s products||Importers and manufacturers of children’s products must ensure that the product and its packaging contain traceable information.|
|Sec. 104 – Standards and consumer registration of durable nursery products||This section, also cited as the “Danny Keysar Child Product Safety Notification Act”, requires the CPSC to put into law consumer product safety standards for durable infant or toddler products.
It explicitly makes it unlawful for importers and manufacturers of cribs to place them on the market unless they are in compliance with said safety standards.
Additionally, the section introduces a consumer registration requirement for producers of durable infant or toddler products. To this effect, a rule is introduced requiring manufacturers of said products to:
a. provide consumers with a postage-paid consumer registration form with each such product
b. Maintain a record of contact information of consumers who register ownership of said products with the manufacturer
c. Permanently place the manufacturer’s name and contact details, and product information on said product
|Sec. 105 – Labeling requirement for advertising toys and games||This section amended the FHSA such that FHSA cautionary statements must appear in product advertisements. Importers and manufacturers must inform retailers of any FHSA cautionary statement requirements that are relevant to the advertised product.|
|Sec. 106 – Mandatory toy safety standards||This section made the provisions of the ASTM International standard F963 (on consumer safety specifications for toy safety) a mandatory standard under the CPSA (incorporated by reference in 16 CFR part 1250).|
|Sec. 107 – Study of preventable injuries and deaths in minority children related to consumer products||This section enabled a study to be conducted examining the racial disparities in the rates of preventable injuries and deaths related to certain children’s products.|
|Sec. 108 – Prohibition on sale of certain products containing specified phthalates||The CPSIA introduces a prohibition on the sale of certain products that contain specified phthalates. Additionally, it tasks the Chronic Hazard Advisory Panel with identifying other phthalates that should be banned.|
Title II – on the administrative functioning and enforcement authority of the CPSC
Although title II of the CPSIA concerns enhancing the administrative and enforcement functions of the CPSC, there are parts of this title that affect importers and manufacturers. The following are some sections that may be of interest.
The public consumer product safety database
For example, section 212 led to the establishment of the public consumer product safety database which is also contained in 16 CFR Part 1102. The database is now referred to as saferproducts.gov.
This database contains reports of actual or potential harm about products that are dangerous or that have the potential to be unsafe consumer products. Note that the reports received by the CPSC could lead to a product recall and its publication on the site could enable consumers to seek legal recourse against importers or manufacturers.
Importers and manufacturers can use this site for educational purposes. If the report concerns them, then they would be sent a notification and would be given an opportunity to publish a response on the site.
Section 232 of the CPSIA introduced a new product category and a mandatory standard for such products.
Which products are covered by CPSIA?
Here are some examples of children’s products categories covered by the CPSIA:
- Children’s toys
- Children’s jewelry
- Children’s art materials
- Children’s books
- Children’s furnishings and fixtures (infant tubs, bath seats, small bean bag chairs with childish decorations)
What is the definition of a children’s product?
For the purposes of age grading, the CPSIA added a new definition to the CPSA, “Children’s products”. Under the act, children’s products refer to consumer products designed or intended primarily for children 12 years old or younger.
Whether a product is a children’s product depends on four specified statutory factors considered together as a whole:
a. A statement by a manufacturer about the intended use of the product, including a label if such a statement is reasonable
b. Whether the product is represented in its packaging, display, promotion, or advertising as appropriate for use by such children
c. Whether consumers would commonly recognize the product as being intended for such children
d. The Age Determination Guidelines of 2002 and any successor to such guidelines
Note that the 2002 guidelines on age determination have been superseded by a new set of guidelines.
The CPSIA introduced a number of requirements (which are covered in this guide), including:
- The lead-paint rule
- The lead limit
- The limits on phthalates
- ASTM F963 requirements
The regulations that give effect to the CPSIA and the amended sections of the CSPA may contain exemptions that may reduce or entirely eliminate the need to comply with CPSIA-related requirements.
Where to start
A good place to start would be to read the regulations and identify the product scope of the legislation. Reading the definitions of the legislative terms employed like “children’s toys”, “child care articles”, and “children’s products” can help you determine whether the regulation applies to your product in the first place.
If your product at first instance falls within the ambit of the regulation then the next step would be to determine whether an exception exists for your particular product.
For example, if your product is a toy product and it is made using engineered wood products (EWP), then as explained below in this guide it may not need lab testing requirements for phthalates, lead limits, and ASTM F963 requirements.
Engineered wood products (EWP)
16 CFR Part 1252 contains provisions that should be observed for importers and manufacturers of EWPs. Certain EWPs benefit from a presumption that they do not exceed phthalates and lead content limits, and do not exceed ASTM F963 elements solubility limits.
Thus, the following EWPs that are untreated and unfinished from virgin wood or pre-consumer wood waste may not require third-party testing:
b. Hardwood plywood (concerning phthalates content limits, it must not contain polyvinyl acetate (PVAc) adhesive formulations)
c. Medium-density fibreboard
Small batch manufacturers
The requirement for a CPSC-accepted third-party testing laboratory for children’s products may be exempted if the importer or manufacturer qualifies as a Small Batch Manufacturer (SBM).
To register as an SBM, importers, and manufacturers should meet both the revenue and unit criteria. The criteria may change from year to year.
However, note that even if qualified as an SBM, importers, and manufacturers must always issue a Children’s Product Certificate.
What is the difference between a children’s product and a general-use product?
Products for which it is not reasonably foreseeable that children would physically interact are not covered within the definition (as presented in a previous section), and are classified as “General Use Products”.
Products that are specifically not intended for such children (like cigarette lighters, candles, fireworks, and other items that the CPSC has traditionally warned adults to keep away from children) are not subject to the CPSIA’s requirements.
How do I know if a product is CPSIA compliant?
To ascertain whether a product is in conformity with the requirements of the CPSIA, one may do the following:
a. Request for the CPC
b. Examine the tracking label
c. Request for a test report and verify whether the issuing lab is a CPSC-accepted lab
d. For durable infant or toddler products, request product registration cards
How can my products become CPSIA compliant?
To be in compliance with the CPSIA is to comply with the regulations that enforce the act. There are regulations that contain requirements and standards introduced by the act, including for example the ASTM F963 standard.
The rules and standards related to the CPSIA may cover some of the following items that may relate to your product:
a. The presence of heavy metals and chemicals in products
b. Specifications as to mechanical performance
c. Flammability requirements
d. Bans relating to the existence of small parts
Most children’s products require testing. Such testing should be done by a third-party accredited laboratory accepted by the CPSC that should test the children’s product for each applicable safety rule. This serves as the basis for the children’s product certificate (as explained below).
There are different types of testing for children’s products:
- Initial third-party testing (e.g. certification testing)
- Material change testing
- Periodic testing
Thus, some products would have to go through multiple tests to stay compliant with the applicable rules.
Children’s Product Certificate (CPC)
The Children’s Product Certificate (CPC) is a certificate that the importer or manufacturer uses to certify that its children’s products are in compliance with all the applicable rules and standards.
The certification is based on the results of third-party testing described above. However, such testing labs do not issue the CPC. Instead, the importer or manufacturer has the responsibility for drafting and issuing the CPC.
Section 103 of the CPSIA (now located in section 14(a)(5) of the CPSA) made it mandatory for children’s products to feature tracking labels. Such labels are affixed to the product and its packaging. Said labels provide identifying information, including:
a. The manufacturer’s or private labeler’s name
b. The product’s location and date of production
c. Information about the manufacturing process (e.g. batch or run number, identifying characteristics, etc)
d. Any other information to help determine the specific source of the product
Whether a warning label would feature on a product would depend on the type of product and the intended user. For example, products that contain small parts or are small products and are intended for children from three to six years of age must contain a warning label to prevent buyers from giving such products to children aged three and below.
There exist requirements contained in 16 CFR Part 1501 for children’s products that are intended for use by children aged three and under. Small parts, defined as objects that fit into a 2.25 inches long by 1.25 inches wide test cylinder, represent a choking hazard to young children and as such are banned.
Here are some products that can contain small parts:
- Nursery equipment
- Infant furniture
Note that products for children aged three years and under must meet additional requirements. Here are some of the products and their respective sources of law:
- Pacifiers – 16 CFR 1511
- Rattles – 16 CFR 1510
- Cribs – 16 CFR 1508 and 1509
- Infant pillows and cushions – 16 CFR 1500.18(a)(16)
- Electrically operated toys – 16 CFR 1505
- Small balls – 16 CFR 1500.18(a)(17)
What are the CPSIA requirements for importers?
The CPSA includes importers within the definition of a manufacturer. When reading the CPSIA or its related regulations, one should keep in mind that they typically refer to an importer that is importing foreign products.
What are the CPSIA requirements for private labelers?
According to the CPSA, the private labeler refers to “… an owner of a brand or trademark on the label of a consumer product which bears a private label”.
What are the CPSIA requirements for domestic US manufacturers?
According to the CPSA, a manufacturer refers to “… any person who manufactures or imports a consumer product”. The CPSIA and related regulations typically apply to manufacturers that are based in the US.
What are the CPSIA requirements for distributors?
The CPSA defines the distributor as “… a person to whom a consumer product is delivered or sold for purposes of distribution in commerce, except that such term does not include a manufacturer or retailer of such product”.
How much does CPSIA compliance cost?
The overall costs to comply with the CPSIA and its associated regulations would depend on a number of factors, including some of the following:
a. The product (if the product is made of a number of regulated materials, then more lab tests may need to be done to prove compliance)
b. The testing fees of the specific lab and its testing capabilities
c. Whether external compliance consultants are consulted
d. Interim material changes to the product’s design
e. Changes in the manufacturer of the product
Which chemicals and heavy metals are restricted by CPSIA?
As mentioned in previous sections, the CPSIA amended the CPSA which in turn caused the CPSC to create and enforce regulations to control or ban certain substances found in children’s products. Such products include children’s toys and childcare articles among other things.
Below we list some examples of restricted substances. Notice that additional restrictions can be found on ASTM F-963 or other ASTM standards that are incorporated under the CPSIA.
Section 108 of the CPSIA (now contained in 16 CFR 1307) makes it unlawful for importers and manufacturers to place on the US market any children’s toy or child care article that contains concentrations of more than 0.1% of the following phthalates:
- Di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP)
- Dibutyl phthalate (DBP)
- Benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP)
Following the Chronic Hazard Advisory Panel’s report, the following phthalates have also been banned if found in concentrations of more than 0.1% in said product categories:
- Diisononyl phthalate (DINP)
- Diisobutyl phthalate (DIBP)
- Di-n-pentyl phthalate (DPENP)
- Di-n-hexyl phthalate (DHEXP)
- Dicyclohexyl phthalate (DCHP)
Note that the use of the words “children’s toys” and “childcare article” (as opposed to “Children’s products”) is deliberate, as the above-mentioned restrictions only apply to these product categories.
In determining whether a children’s product is one of the said product categories and is affected by the phthalates ban, the four factors in CPSIA Sec. 208(e)(2)(A) should be considered. These four factors are the same four factors as those for determining whether a product is a children’s product or a product for general use.
However, the intended use of the product and the age of the user must be taken into account. This is so because the ban only applies to the two product categories. Thus, children’s products like children’s footwear and other wearing apparel for children would not be affected by the ban.
In applying the four factors, if the product is one of the following, then the ban applies:
a. “ … [A] consumer product designed or intended by the manufacturer for a child 12 years of age or younger for use by the child when the child plays” (e.g. Children’s toy)
b. “ … [A] consumer product designed or intended by the manufacturer to facilitate sleep or the feeding of children age 3 and younger, or to help such children with sucking or teething” (e.g. Child care article)
The presence of non-listed phthalates
If there are other phthalates that aren’t prohibited under the regulations, the manufacturer may use them in the manufacturing of children’s products. However, the manufacturer must observe FHSA requirements, as such phthalates or alternative plasticizers may prove to be harmful and would be classified as hazardous substances.
Thus, the old adage “it is better to be safe than sorry” applies, and testing is always a go-to precautionary measure.
As previously mentioned, the CPSIA sets lead limits and had updated the lead paint rule. 16 CFR Part 1252 contains provisions derived from the CPSIA concerning lead limits, and 16 CFR Part 1303 concerns the ban of lead-containing paint among other things.
The lead limit affects any children’s product, material, or component part of a children’s product. Importers and manufacturers must ensure that in manufacturing any of the said items it complies with the established lead limit.
Following the enactment of the CPSIA, the lead limit had been reduced from 0.06% in 2009 to the current lead limit of 0.01% by weight for any part of the product.
However, the regulations do also contain a list of materials, metals, and alloys that do not exceed the lead content limits (unless lead or a lead-containing metal is added). The list can be found in 16 CFR Part 1500.91.
The lead paint rule
The CPSIA had effectively made an existing regulation (16 CFR Part 1303.1) more stringent. It did this by requiring the total lead or lead compounds content in paints and similar surface-coating materials for consumer use to constitute not more than 0.009% of the weight of the total nonvolatile content of the paint or the dried paint film.
If exceeded, such products would be deemed to be hazardous products under the CPSA and the FHSA and would be banned.
Additionally, as it pertains to children’s products, such products may be found to be hazardous products if it carries lead-containing paint. The same applies to furniture articles for consumer use.
16 CFR Part 1303.3 contains a list of products that are exempted from this requirement provided that they contain the appropriate warning label and statement.
What are some signs of a non-CPSIA-compliant product?
Here are some examples of toys and children’s products that are potentially non-compliant:
1. No tracking label present on the product and the packaging
2. The seller cannot provide a Children’s Product Certificate (CPC)
3. The seller cannot provide a test report corresponding to the CPC
4. No registration card delivered (for durable infant or toddler products)
Parents and other consumers should be cautious when buying toys and other children’s products from overseas websites. Products that are manufactured for markets other than the United States are more often than not non-compliant with CPSIA.
In practice, this can mean that the toy is unsafe from a design perspective (e.g. contains small parts) or contains excessive amounts of restricted chemicals and heavy metals.
What can happen if we sell non-compliant products?
If it happens to be the case that you are selling non-compliant products, the following may occur:
a. The CPSC may enter your business premise to inspect your documentation to determine whether there is a violation of federal law
b. Your product may be reported and published on the CPSC’s consumer database (e.g. www.SaferProducts.gov)
c. The product may be recalled (usually due to a declared safety hazard like a choking or burn hazard)
d. It may attract civil suits from consumers
e. It may attract CPSC civil and criminal penalties
Thus, it is vital that business entities dealing with such regulated products adhere to the rules. If a defect is found or an injury is reported from products placed on the market, the importer or manufacturer should immediately report the case to the CPSC. Failing to do so, could result in any of the adverse consequences mentioned above.