WASHINGTON -- Congress passed a bill to clarify and enhance the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008. Titled H.R. 2715, it sailed through both the House and Senate on Aug. 1 with little fanfare during the controversy over the debt limit. It awaits the President's signature.
The new provisions provide more flexibility regarding lead levels, since they apply specifically to products unlikely to be ingested by a child. These include parts found on motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles, bicycles and used children's products. There is also a so-called "carve-out" for items made by small-batch manufacturers.
There is no change to the CPSIA's lead limit of 100 parts per million for bulk toys, which goes into effect Aug. 14. However, there is a provision in the bill that requires the Consumer Product Safety Commission to seek public comment on opportunities to reduce the cost of third-party testing requirements within 60 days after the date of the bill's enactment.
This directs the CPSC to consider a number of factors set forth for comment, and allows the commission to act within one year after the date of enactment to propose new or revised third-party testing requirements. This provision allows manufacturers adversely impacted by the third-party testing requirement to modify that testing regime through the commission.
The new bill that amends the CPSIA also authorizes the CPSC to grant exemptions for stringent tracking label requirements in cases where such labeling is not "practicable." Bulk products have already been granted this exception under a previous CPSC ruling, though the inclusion of such language in the new bill now makes that previous decision binding as rule of law. | SEE STORY
"I think we have struck the right balance," said Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA). "We fix valid problems and keep in place valuable health and safety protections for children. That has been my primary goal throughout this process."
The new bill also seeks to improve the efficiency of CPSC's safety database, launched in March 2011 as required by the CPSIA. The recent revision allows for modifications in the way the organization handles reports, specifically by allowing the CPSC to delay publication of potentially inaccurate data pending receipt of additional information requested by the commission. That information might include model, serial number and a photograph of the product supplied by anyone who lodges a complaint.
"When I first took over the reins of CPSC in July 2009, I said that I would be a firm but fair regulator," said chairwoman Inez Tenenbaum. "In keeping with this approach, I called for greater flexibility in implementing the CPSIA.
"My guiding principle has been that any changes to the law not slow down or reverse the progress we have made to protect the health and safety of children," Tenenbaum explained. "H.R. 2715 confirms that vision. By a 421-2 vote in the House and a unanimous vote in the Senate, Congress provided additional flexibility in the areas the Commission requested, while reaffirming the key landmark provisions of the CPSIA."
For a full version of H.R. 2715, go to: