Did you know that the CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) has lead regulations for ALL children's products? Yep, they do! The regulations apply to anyone and everyone who makes children's products, (children being defined as anyone 12 or under), whether a handmade shop or a large corporation. What are they and what do they mean for you, as a consumer?
There are two different areas of regulation: total lead content and lead in paints or surface coatings. For total lead content, most products cannot contain more than 100 ppm (parts per million) in parts of the product that are readily accessible to children. For paints and surface coatings, the bar is set at 90 ppm and you'll be happy to know that your household paint must meet this regulation, too.
So, what is this about inaccessibility? What is meant is that the object, generally a toy, must meet all applicable physical and mechanical tests AND the part in question must be surround by almost two inches of stuffing/fabric (1.9685 inches, to be exact). Think about stuffed toys with music boxes or rattles inside.
You're probably thinking about toys and paint, but this applies to clothing, bedding, every single children's item. Let's talk clothing though, since that's what I make. Many, many processes used to print fabric are exempt because they have been found to meet the lead standards mentioned. Say that I fall in love with a fabric that has metallic printing, which is really big right now. Metallic printing is one of the biggies for needing lead certification. The process is not exempt. Since I'm a Small Batch Manufacturer, I would contact the company that made said fabric and inquire as to whether the fabric met CPSC lead regulations. I need their testing certification, showing that the printing meets CPSC lead regulations, or a statement from them saying that it does, in order to use their fabric for children's products. If they cannot or will not provide either of those, I cannot legally use the fabric. Large corporations are required to send their products out for third-party testing.
How can you ensure that the items you purchase meet lead regulations? For large corporations and online stores (big or small), shoot them an email asking whether the product in question meets CPSC lead regulations. If you're at the local craft fair, ask the seller if the item meets CPSC lead regulations. You can also ask the broad question of, "Does this product meet CPSC safety regulations?"
Stay tuned for another product safety post! Flammability is up next.
For more information, visit the CPSC's website. If you are another maker reading this, you might be interested in the CD Compliance Group on Facebook. It works closely with the CPSC small business ombudsman.