The Consumer Product Safety Comission (CPSC) just announced a major revision to their very strict policy on lead limits for products intended for use by children 12 and under.Coming as potentially dangerous news for the Apparel Industry, the CPSC has just amended Section 101(b)(1) of the CPSIA, which now provides for exceptions from the strict lead content limits (100 parts per million) under certain circumstances, a move that will allow higher levels of lead in children products.
Under the CPSIA (Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act), products that are designed and intended for children age 12 and younger that contain lead content in excess of 100 ppm are considered to be banned hazardous substances. This regulation has gotten progressively more strict since the 2009 Mattel toy recall that fined the company $2.3 million for having unsafe levels of lead in children's toys.
This change to the lead limit policy is a step in the opposite direction by the CPSC from the trend toward removing more lead from children's products. As amended, the provision now allows for a functional purpose exception from the lead content limits under certain circumstances. This means that companies can apply for an exception to the lead limit in their products if current technological processes don't allow for achieving a level of less than 100 ppm. The CPSC will soon outline the procedures for granting an exception in the statute.
How the Lead Limit Revisions Effect the Apparel Industry
So, what does this mean for us in the Apparel Industry?
Overnight, the CPSC has made it more important than ever for apparel brands to ensure that their raw material suppliers and trim suppliers are using only the safest components. Since it's now possible to use more harmful material inputs than were previously allowed for children's garments, brands need to be very careful of where they source their trims and need to dedicate more time to monitoring restricted substance levels.
The potential now exists for garment producers to be using materials with differing levels of lead content for different orders in-house. Any mix-ups of materials could be potentially disastrous for brands that are not intending to make products with levels above that of current regulations without an exemption. Make sure you're using a trim supplier that has strict restricted substance testing standards.