CPSC's Exemptions to Third-party Testing Create Compliance Confusion
Stone doesn't anticipate the testing exemptions will see much of a presence in the promotional products industry. One reason pertains to the size limitations for exemption, which rules out a majority of manufacturers. The other, more salient concern pertains to the wording that requires testing on "lead-in-paint and other surface coatings."
"Paint in surface coatings basically means decoration in our industry," he explained. Surface coatings top the CPSC's list of third-party tests that must be given, and because most promotional products will feature some sort of printed logo on the surface, they will always require the highest levels of testing. "So you've got to test that anyway, even if you are a small batch manufacturer," Stone said.
According to Rick Brenner, CEO of Prime Line and board director for PPAI, it is those surface coating decorations that make more products, and therefore more suppliers and distributors, subject to the CPSIA's oversight. "In the promotional products industry, a great many of the products that are 'children's products' only become so after they are imprinted," he said.
A Sesame Street plush doll would be considered a children's product, but a drawstring bag would not. However, if that bag is sold with a Sesame Street logo, it is now subject to the same testing requirements as the toy. If the manufacturer did not submit the bag to third-party testing, that item is now in violation of CPSIA, and affiliated parties are subject to fines from $5,000 to $100,000 for individual violations and imprisonment for up to five years.
"I am a proponent of a 'best practice' where suppliers highlight on their website all products that have been third-party tested—to give distributors the peace of mind that any of those products can be sold for children," Brenner said. "If a small firm seeks an exemption and does not third-party test any products, how would a distributor know which of their products are compliant and which ones are not?"