Time to Take a Closer Look at the Test Reports in Your Files
With the deadline for mandatory third party lead testing less than two months away, now would be a very good time to take a closer look at the third-party test reports in your files. There's a good chance that upon closer inspection you might find that for certain products the reports you're relying on for compliance might not be very reliable.
In the Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), Congress mandated that an accredited third party laboratory must test children's products before they can be distributed in commerce. Testing for lead in paint or surface coating has been required since December of 2008. Testing for lead in substrate will take effect on January 1, 2012.
So what are the reliability concerns I'm raising?
While some question the accuracy of the tests—by showing inconsistent results from one lab to the next-that isn't the issue I see. My concern is more serious-that some of the test reports you receive may not even be for the same product that you're selling. In those cases, the reports are not reliable and provide a false sense of security to you and to your customers.
Here's one way that happens: Instead of ordering tests for their own products, U.S. importers often turn to their overseas factories for testing. But some of these factories-particularly ones that supply similar versions of their products to multiple customers in the US-may try to mitigate the cost by testing only a small subset of their products-sometimes only one SKU out of a varied line of products. Instead of testing the actual products as produced for each of their customers, they send a generic version of their product to a lab and then they give these test results to every customer who requests a test report. I've seen tests like this more times than I can count.