What's in a Toy? CPSC Calls For Input on Phthalates
The new Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act's (CPSIA) requirements for phthalates in children's toys went into effect of February 10th. The act limits the amount of phthalates—materials used to make plastics more durable and softer—to less than 1/10 of 1 percent and could have a significant impact on some industry products. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) released a draft report seeking input on exactly what items should be included. Quoting from the report:
“Starting on February 10, 2009, certain children’s toys and child-care articles can no longer be sold, offered for sale, manufactured or imported for sale in the United States if they contain more than 0.1 percent of specified phthalates.”
While the new guidelines set hard-and-fast limits at 0.1 percent of phthalates can exist, the commission is encountering questions as to what does and what does not qualify as a toy under the act. Again, from the report:
“Section 108 of the CPSIA defines a children’s toy as 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. Any determination as to whether a particular product is designed or intended for use by a child 12 years of age or younger during play will be made after consideration of the following factors.”
These factors include conditions such as intent of product, product packaging and general perception of the product in question. An example for the promotional products industry would be whether or not a small rubber ball handed out as a promotion should fall under the toy category.
The report goes on to discuss other items that may come into contact with a child, including those that can be placed and kept in a child's mouth for an extended period of time or are intended for child-care purposes such as suckling and feeding. It questions such items as crib rails, crib sheets, decorative swimming googles, water wings, shampoo bottles in animal shapes and play sand. Many of these items could fall into the realm of promotional products.
The commission is calling on manufacturers to comment on its initial report and help it determine what other items may fall under this act—items that don't fit the traditional toy category, but should still be covered by its provisions.
“The guidance is intended to help manufacturers, importers, retailers and consumers determine what products are covered by the phthalate limits.”
Though some parts of the guidelines are still in limbo, the good news is the commission intends to enforce its guidelines in some of the most high-risk areas to children.
“Until the draft guidance is finalized, CPSC intends, given its limited resources, to focus its enforcement efforts on the products most likely to pose a risk of phthalate exposure to children. Specifically, CPSC will focus its enforcement efforts on bath toys and other small, plastic toys (especially those made of polyvinyl chloride) that are intended for young children and can be put in the mouth.
In addition, CPSC staff will sample teethers, rattles and pacifiers to confirm that manufacturers continue their practice of not using prohibited phthalates.”