Child exposed to PhthalatesBeginning on February 10, 2009, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued new requirements for child products. The guidelines are necessary in order to comply with the New Child Safety Law. The guidelines apply to children’s toys, childcare articles and consumer products intended for children. The new guidelines apply to phthalate and lead levels. Phthalates are chemicals used to make vinyl and plastics soft and flexible. It is because of these qualities, that phthalates are used to make toys.

The new phthalate requirements apply to six different types of phthalates (DEHP, DBP, BBP, DINP, DIDP and DnOP). Children’s toys and childcare articles cannot contain any more than 0.1% of any of these six phthalates. According to the CPSC, a children’s toy is defined as “a product intended for a child 12 years or younger to use when playing.” However, bigger items, such as bikes, playground equipment and musical instruments are exempt. Childcare articles are defined as products that a child three years and younger would use for sleeping (ex: blanket), feeding (ex: cup), teething (ex: teething ring) and sucking (ex: pacifier).

As a result of the new requirements, companies have a reporting obligation under federal law. Companies must tell the CPSC if they know of any toy or childcare article that exceeds the new phthalate requirements. The new requirements also apply to all toys and childcare articles regardless of when they were manufactured, meaning these new requirements apply to toys currently on the market, not just those made after February 10th.

Also beginning on February 10th new lead guidelines will be implemented. The guidelines apply to consumer products intended for children who are twelve years or younger. Lead is often found in the paint of children’s toys. None of the consumer products for children can have more than 600 parts per million of lead.

However, these new guidelines do not apply to all products. The CPSC will issue alternative lead limits for some electronic devices. In addition, on January 30, 2009, the CPSC approved a one-year stay on the enforcement of testing for these new guidelines. Manufacturers and importers do not have to comply with certain certification and testing requirements on their products for another year. Manufacturers will not be required to complete testing, but they will still be required to meet lead and phthalate limits along with other mandatory toy standards. Testing is required for painted products and in the future it will be required for metal jewelry. Companies still have a reporting obligation to inform the CPSC if they learn of any products for children, which exceed the lead limits.

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Paul d’Oliveira

Attorney Paul d’Oliveira has been practicing personal injury and disability law for over 30 years. He started his personal injury law practice in 1989 with two offices in Fall River, MA and East Providence, RI. Today his firm has 16 offices in RI and Southeastern, MA.

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