Which Products Aren’t Making It Across Our Border? The CPSC’s 2nd Quarter 2012 Report is Final
A lot of things have been going on around here lately at Technical Textile Solutions- between the launch of our new website, new product launches, and client work, we’ve got a lot on our plate right now. So much so, that we haven’t gotten the chance to talk about the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s product seizure report for the 2nd quarter of 2012. We’ll take the time now to do just that. In this post, we’ll explain what the report is, what is in it, and what that means for consumers and the textile, apparel & footwear industry.
What is the CPSC 2nd Quarter Seizure Report & Why Should You Care?
By now, we have all heard about new requirements for product testing due to excessive lead in toys imported into the United States back in 2008. The aftermath of that situation was the crafting of the CPSIA, or the Consumer Product Safety & Improvement Act of 2008. This Act fundamentally changed the way product safety is regulated in the US. The Consumer Product Safety Commission, an independent agency of the US government, oversees the enforcement of the Act.
While the Act was signed into law in 2008, stays of enforcements for the law were put in place up until August 2011, because the Act was EXCEEDINGLY difficult to understand and wasn’t fully thought-0ut at the beginning (a stay of enforcement basically means that the law is still on the books, but during the stay it is not actively enforced). The confusion surrounding this law ranged from no clear definitions of what products fell under the jurisdiction of the law, to a lack of allowable test methods to even test for the existance of the banned substances. Suffice to say, in the years between 2008 and 2011, much of the confusion has been ironed out. There have been many additional rulings issued by the CPSC through the years as they were able to address each area of confusion. There is still much confusion regarding this law, and I won’t get into that here because it isn’t the point of this post, but if you want more information on it, just Google “CPSIA Updates”. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
If I’m Not Talking About the CPSIA Specifically, Why Did I Mention it in the First Place?
The reason I mentioned the CPSIA here is because for the last year, the CPSC has issued no more stays of enforcement, meaning they are now actively applying the law to all products sold in the US. The application of the law has resulted in some product seizures at US borders, and I’m here to share and discuss those numbers with you, since this law impacts the textile, apparel, and footwear industry.
Now to the “Good” Stuff- The Data for 2nd Quarter 2012
Everyone here knows that I’m a numbers geek, so I love reading reports like this, and if you want to read it too, you can read the report here. But I don’t know many people who have time to read an 18-page-long government report, so I’ll pull out the good stuff for you below:
CPSC investigators screened more than 3,700 imported products and prevented more than 360,000 units of hazardous products from reaching consumers.
Children’s products containing lead amounts that exceed the federal limits are the major offender.
Children’s sleepwear that did not meet flammability requirements are the next highest offending category.
Toys and other items with small parts that present choking hazards are still a prominent hazard.
Fireworks and mattresses made up another significant portion of seizures.
Conclusion & Implications for Textile & Apparel Industry
After reviewing all the data on the various infractions listed, here are my takeaways:
Products don’t have to contain hazardous materials to be in violation. If you don’t have the proper certificate in your shipment, but your product passes the testing, your shipment will still be seized. I know, I know. There are about 5 different kinds of certificates required, depending on the product you’re importing. There is the Lead content Certificate, tracking labels, General Conformity Certificate, phthalate interim certification etc. Do yourself a favor and understand completely what you need as of right now by visiting the CPSC website. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and resources. Many in the industry have speculated in the past that shipments wouldn’t be seized if the only infraction for the shipment was a tracking label infraction, but this is clearly not the case based on the report.
Lead & Phthalate content were the two hot-button issues for textile & apparel manufacturers with regard to CPSIA. Based on the numbers in this report for 2nd quarter 2012, 100% of the Footwear units (21,634) were seized for lead content infractions. For apparel, 78.9% of units (1424) were seized for lead content and 21.1% of seized units (21.2%) were seized for flammability infractions. While Phthalate infractions were found in dolls and inflatable balls, none were found in children’s apparel or other apparel items. I personally find it odd that lead infractions were so prevalent in apparel, but it is not clear in the report whether the infraction was because lead was found or because there was no lead content certificate present. There are also numerous trims and embellishments on the garment that could fail testing, so that could be causing the lead failures.