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CPSC Takes Away Fabric Certification Rules for Low-Risk Adult Apparel

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The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has announced plans to remove certain fabric certification rules that companies making and selling adult apparel have had to comply with for years—a move that could cut their annual costs by up to $250 million.

Under the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), manufacturers or importers of ordinary adult apparel are subject to the flammability standards established under the Flammable Fabrics Act (FFA). However, as Commissioner Joseph Mohorovic pointed out, the rule also includes a list of fabrics—established more than 30 years ago—that meet the standard. This means that businesses are burdened with paperwork for fabrics that the CPSC has already deemed harmless.

“Because of this woven-in compliance, we already know they are inherently safe. There is no added safety value in companies attesting to compliance the commission has predetermined because, certified or not, they are quintessential low-risk products,” Mohorovic said in a statement. “No clothing is made any safer because of a certificate that tells us what we already know; it is only made more expensive.”

In fact, based on the data the CPSC has collected (and excluding the amount of adult apparel that’s not made using fabrics on the list), the industry has to produce more than 26 million certificates at a cost of roughly $250 million each year. “That is a quarter-billion dollar annual price tag for confidence we already have that these products meet the standard and present little risk,” Mohorovic continued.

Furthermore, the commission calculated that more than 60 percent of this burden falls on small businesses, which not only lack the infrastructure to minimize per-certificate costs, but their smaller product runs and purchase orders also mean they have fewer units under each one.

“This certificate requirement was the definition of red tape,” Mohorovic said. “It was a needless form and procedure required to gain bureaucratic approval. And it was costing an enormous sum, particularly for the people least able to absorb the cost. So, we cut it.”