Saturday, February 7, 2009

What the Latest CPSC Rulings Mean for My Products

As the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) slogs through the Children's Products Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), those of us who make handmade products for children wait to hear more about the guidelines and either adapt our products or make decisions to move away from children's products altogether.

Despite all the confusion, frustration and emotion around this issue, I am trying my best to keep an open mind and become educated on this issue. That is why my blog entries lately focus on this issue. At some point, I will be able and willing to post something other than news about CPSIA!

Having said that, the CPSC came out with new guidelines which I received yesterday (2/6/09). One news release concerns lead content and the other phthalate levels. I have posted both in earlier entries.

Here is how I believe these guidelines affect my products:

Lead Content

I have been writing to manufacturers of the materials I use in my products, requesting Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) and/or certificates of compliance to the CPSIA. I have not heard from every company and will continue pursuing this information.

The following companies provided me with MSDS or posted such information on their websites: Amann Sewing Threads and Yarns (Mettler/Metrosene Thread), The Ribbon Factory, Strathmore Artists, and Synta Inc. (makers of the acrylic paints I am currently using in my ACEOs). Wrights (makers of soutache, binding, etc.) are working on a statement for their website. Although I have not yet heard from the Warm Company, the labeling on their Lite Steam-A-Seam indicates compliance with federal consumer product standards. I am comfortable that the products I use from these manufacturers meet or exceed the CPSIA.

According to the news release, the CPSC has provided an exemption for certain natural materials, such as "wood, cotton, wool, or certain metals and alloys which the Commission has recognized rarely, if ever, contain lead." This means the cotton batting I use also meets the new guidelines.

Likewise, the CPSC has made a ruling to exempt certain textiles: "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." So it appears the fabrics I use for my products are OK. Although the Amann group assured me that their metallic thread meets the guidelines, I will not be using metallic thread on any of the items I make that are marketable to children.

I believe I am in reasonably good shape in terms of meeting these guidelines, but I still have some work to do.

I am still trying to track down button, snap and bead manufacturers who can provide MSDS or certificates of compliance. I have also not heard from the company that makes poly fiberfill. Until further notice, I will not be using any of these items for children's items in my shop.

Phthalate Levels:

The plastic I use most in my products is craftlace (for lobster antennae). This is made from a company in the USA (Pepperell Crafts) and their labeling claims to be non-toxic. However, as of yet, I have not received any responses from the company. I will try to get this information. In the meantime, any product containing plastic craftlace in my shop and that is intended for children will be temporarily pulled from my shop until I receive assurance from the company that the phthalate levels in their product meet the guidelines or until I can find another manufacturer who can provide me with this information.

As frustrating and worrisome as this process is and has been, I am doing my best to embrace the new situation. I am dedicated to providing well-crafted, safe products to you, my valued customers. Thank you for your patience as I sort all this out!

As always, I will continue to update you as all this unfolds.


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