CPSIA Update - Lead in Children’s Products and Third Party Testing

October 22, 2009

With the Stay of Enforcement scheduled to be lifted on February 10, 2010, all children’s product subject to a CPSC children’s product safety rule will require third party testing and certification.  The laboratories performing this testing must be accredited per CPSC requirements.  To this end, the CPSC has issued some important information related to test methods and laboratory accreditation requirements to certify compliance to Section 101 of the CPSIA, Lead in Certain Children’s Products. 


The CPSC has published two test methods for determining lead in children’s products.  Two test methods are needed because metal and non-metal products require different methods.  These test methods were published previously, as compliance has been required since February 2009, and they have been confirmed as the methods to be used for accreditation purposes.


The test method for metal components is the same one currently being used for children’s metal jewelry, CPSC-CH-E1001-08.  Third party testing for children’s metal jewelry has been required since March 23, 2009 and, once the stay of enforcement is lifted in February, all accessible components of children’s jewelry, not just the metal components, will require testing.  Within the CPSC test procedure are two possible sample preparation methods, one based on Canadian methodology and the other based on EPA test method.  Each unique accessible component part must be tested separately as, at this time, composite testing of components is not allowed.


The test method for determining lead in non-metal children’s products is CPSC-CH-E1002-08.  As with the metal components, the general approach is to grind the material into a powder, digest the powder completely, and then analyze the solution for total lead content.  There are different digestion methods for crystal and ceramic material, and for polymeric or plastic material.  In addition to the standard acid digestion method for plastic materials, the CPSC’s test method allows for the use of XRF as an alternate method in determining lead content in plastic material.  This is consistent with the results of the CPSC’s August 2009 study on the effectiveness of x-ray fluorescence spectrometry for measuring lead in paint.  The study’s results indicate that, while not suitable at this time as a method for certifying lead in paint, XRF is an acceptable alternative for determining lead in plastic materials, within certain parameters.  While the current limit for lead content is 300 ppm, the CPSC has advised that any XRF result indicating lead content of 200 ppm or greater requires wet chemistry testing (acid digestion method) in order to certify compliance of the plastic material to CPSIA’s lead requirement.


With the confirmation of the two test methods for determining lead content in children’s products, laboratories will be able to apply for CPSC acceptance so that, once the stay of enforcement is lifted, there will be accredited laboratories to perform the mandated lead testing.  As with the children’s product tests that currently require third party testing – lead in paint, small parts, cribs, pacifiers, and lead in children’s metal jewelry – the accreditation requirements for laboratories to perform lead in children’s product testing is ISO 17025 accreditation, with the ISO accreditation from an internationally recognized accreditation body.  Using ISO 17025 accreditation as the basis for CPSC laboratory acceptance makes sense since it is a laboratory competency assessment and specific to each test method. 


In an effort to avoid redundant testing and help prevent testing backlogs, the CPSC is proposing limited acceptance of children’s product certifications based on lead testing performed prior to the effective date (date that CPSC terminates the current stay of enforcement).  These product certifications may be accepted if:

1.                  Testing was performed by an ISO 17025 accredited laboratory, with the ISO accreditation from an internationally recognized accreditation body (essentially a lab that meets the requirements for CPSC acceptance);

2.                  The laboratory’s application is accepted by CPSC by December 31, 2009 or 30 days prior to the termination of the stay of enforcement for total lead content in children’s products (whichever date is later);

3.                  Product was tested using CPSC test methods (CPSC-CH-E1001-08 for metal components or CPSC-CH-E1002-08 for non-metal components);

4.                  Laboratory’s ISO accreditation scope includes the applicable CPSC test methods above;

5.                  Test results show compliance with applicable current standards (total lead limit in effect when stay of enforcement is lifted rather than lead limit in effect at time of testing);

6.                  Laboratory’s accreditation and inclusion of CPSC test methods for lead content remains in effect through the effective date for mandatory third party testing and certification.


The information from the CPSC on accreditation requirements for third party labs and confirmation of CPSC test methods for total lead content in children’s products is most welcome, and will help the industry prepare for the termination of the stay of enforcement, expected to be February 10, 2010.  The proposed acceptance of previous testing for product certification, while limited, should help ease the additional burden that will be placed on children’s product manufacturers.