New Lead Limits Start Today, CPSC Spells Out Enforcement Policy

Starting today, consumer products intended for children 12 and under cannot have more than 600 parts per million of lead in any accessible part. This new safety requirement is a key component of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) aimed at further reducing children's exposure to lead.

In an effort to provide clear and reasonable guidance to those impacted, the Consumer Product Safety Commission is announcing its enforcement policy on the lead limits established by the CPSIA.

Manufacturers, importers, distributors, and retailers should also be aware that CPSC will:

  • Not impose penalties against anyone for making, importing, distributing, or selling:
    • a children's product to the extent that it is made of certain natural materials (pdf), such as wood, cotton, wool, or certain metals and alloys which the Commission has recognized rarely, if ever, contain lead;
    • an ordinary children's book printed after 1985; or
    • dyed or undyed textiles (not including leather, vinyl, or PVC) and non-metallic thread and trim used in children's apparel and other fabric products, such as baby blankets. (CPSC generally will not prosecute someone for making, selling, or distributing items in these categories even if it turns out that such an item actually contains more than 600 ppm lead.)

    Sellers will not be immune from prosecution if CPSC's Office of Compliance finds that someone had actual knowledge that one of these children's products contained more than 600 ppm lead or continued to make, import, distribute or sell such a product after being put on notice. Agency staff will seek recalls of violative children's products or other corrective actions, where appropriate.

  • Issue an interim final rule (pdf) effective today, which establishes alternative lead limits for certain electronic devices, in order to prevent unnecessary removal of certain children's products from store shelves.
  • Accept a manufacturer's determination that a lead-containing part on their product is inaccessible to a child and not subject to the new lead limits, if it is consistent with the CPSC's proposed guidance or is based on a reasonable reading of the inaccessibility requirement. Paint and other coatings or electroplating are not considered barriers that make a component inaccessible.

This enforcement policy will remain in effect until superseded by action of the commission.

CPSC said it still expects companies to meet their reporting obligation under federal law and immediately tell them if they learn of a children's product that exceeds these new lead limits. Companies also should know that the CPSIA generally prohibits the export for sale of children's products that exceed the new lead limits.

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