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Apparel Firms Urge CPSC to Eliminate Unnecessary Lead Testing

Vague verbiage in a Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) rule for determining lead content has caused apparel and footwear firms to conduct unnecessary–and costly–testing, and now the firms are seeking an amendment to the rule.

The American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) sent a letter to CPSC acting chairman Robert Adler Monday in response to the organization’s calls for recommendations related to ways to reduce third party testing costs.

According to the letter, AAFA said one way for CPSC to reduce these costs without sacrificing public safety would be to revise its determination on lead content in textiles to eliminate the term “other prints.”

CPSC published a final rule titled, “Children’s Products Containing Lead; Determinations Regarding Lead Content on Certain Materials or Products” in the Federal Register in 2009. The rule confirmed that neither natural nor manufactured fiber textiles exceed the lead content limits outlined in the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, however, excluding after-treatment applications like screen prints, transfers, decals, or other prints.

“While AAFA believes the CPSC was focusing more on the term “screen prints,” as operations that are not inherently lead free, the CPSC’s reference to “other prints” in its ruling has unintentionally subjected many inherently lead free operations to testing. The resulting confusion, and the significant amount of unnecessary testing it has caused, has been very costly to our industry, all without any corresponding increase in public safety,” the letter noted.

AAFA has recommended the rule be revised to state “decals” in place of “other prints.”

CPSC held a day-long workshop in April to explore options for reducing the burdens of product testing, and discussed ways to revise rules pertaining to lead content, phthalate content and the solubility of the seven additional heavy elements and input from stakeholders is being reviewed and evaluated.