CPSIA Information

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CPSIA Summary

On August 14, 2008, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA) became law. The CPSIA includes a new set of regulations that change the requirements associated with consumer products and with children’s products in particular, including books. The following is our attempt to clarify the applicability of the law to the book industry and how we (printers and publishers) must demonstrate our compliance with the new regulations. We’ve compiled this summary from information we’ve received from the Book Manufacturers’ Institute (BMI), the Association of American Publishers (AAP), Printing Industries of America (PIA), and the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC).

Important Update
The CPSIA originally required that on February 10, 2009, children’s products, including books and articles made from paper, will be subject to the CPSIA’s new total lead and phthalates content limits, and that there would be testing and certification requirements associated with those limits. However, on January 30, 2009, the CPSC granted a one year stay of the testing and certification requirements for some products including children’s books. The total lead and phthalates content limits still must be met on February 10, 2009, but the testing and certification requirements in the act are postponed until February 10, 2010.

In response to an inquiry from the Association of American Publishers (AAP), the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) has made the following important distinction between books intended specifically for children and those intended for readers of all ages: “…the CPSIA applies to all children’s products…The term ‘children’s product’ is defined by the CPSIA as a ‘consumer product designed or intended primarily for children 12 years of age or younger.’” The CPSC goes on to say that, “…the CPSIA lead limits of section 101 do not apply to ordinary books intended for readers of all ages, including children. By definition those books are not intended or designed primarily for children. Therefore, those books do not need a general conformity certification for lead content and do not require third-party testing of any kind.”

On February 10, 2009 ASTM F963 becomes U.S. Federal Law. This regulation applies to toys, and in some situations a book may be considered a toy. This regulation defines the requirements for lead testing, labeling, physical and mechanical testing, and other elements of toy safety. When a book product or other in-scope article made from paper contains an integrated appurtenance not made from paper (plush item, jewelry, zipper, buckle, clasp, etc.) this renders the finished product a toy and therefore subject to additional testing in accordance with ASTM F963.

Basic books or articles made from paper intended for use primarily by children 12 or younger, without an integrated appurtenance, that are adhesive bound, saddle stitched/stapled, spiral bound, etc. are not subject to all of the test requirements of ASTM F963. Only the total lead and phthalates in product (substrate) requirements of Sections 101 and 108 of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 apply.

Demonstrating Compliance with the Law
Under the CPSIA, with respect to the February 10, 2009 deadline for total lead content, we are not required to submit each job/title for accredited third-party testing under Section 102(a) (2). Third-party testing will go into effect on a date yet to be determined. However, starting February 10, 2009, children’s books will have to comply with the new lead and phthalate standards. Though the ‘Stay of Testing’ announcement issued by the CPSC on January 30 suspends the certification requirement, printers may verify compliance by issuing letters of assurance to publishers. The assurance will be based on results obtained through “reasonable testing programs” that the printers believe are reasonable based on their knowledge of the product and its components. We (book printers) have been told by the CPSC that we can confidently issue the assurances based on the test results posted on an industry website: www.bmibook.org. This URL is the home page of the Book Manufacturers’ Institute (BMI), and a link to the CPSIA test data can be found at the bottom of that page. To date, the data on this site shows that book printers have tested over 270 different titles. Of those titles, all of the ones printed since 1970 show lead levels below 100 ppm, the most stringent standard contemplated under the CPSIA.  Several titles printed before 1970 show lead levels between 100 and 200 ppm, which is below the current standard of 300 ppm.  The CPSIA states that the lead standard will drop from 300 ppm to 100 ppm in August 2011, “if technologically feasible”.   Information on the CPSC website indicates that ordinary books printed since 1985 can be expected to meet the 100 ppm standard.  Therefore, current production of ordinary books will meet the 100 ppm standard; however, if 100 ppm becomes the new standard in 2011 it will result in some currently conforming older books becoming non-conforming.  This will affect organizations such as used book stores and libraries that may have such non-conforming older books on their shelves.

Our ‘reasonable testing program’ at Think has 3 components: 1) verification from our raw material suppliers that the lead and phthalate content of their products are well within the requirements of the new law (verification letters listed below), 2) a broader set of industry data maintained on the industry website mentioned above, and 3) periodic tests of representative samples of our finished books. With respect to item 3), We have tested several of our current and older products at a government certified lab.  These products are representative of what we print at Think.  The oldest of these dates from the early 1970s.  All of the titles we tested had lead levels well below 100 ppm. We will use the tests of these finished books to confirm the validity of the information we have obtained from our suppliers and the industry database cited in 1) and 2) above. The frequency of the tests described in item 3) will be determined based on both the test results and on any future clarification provided to us on the requirements of the law.

So far, through our testing program, we have found only one instance where the materials we use do not easily conform to the upcoming requirements. Our supplier of vinyl binders has informed us that the vinyl used on vinyl binders we have purchased in the past exceeds the limit of 1,000 ppm for phthalates that will go into effect on February 10, 2009. We do very few titles that are inserted into vinyl binders, and of those, we don’t know if any have been children’s books. We’re in the process of going through our records to see if any children’s books we’ve printed in the past used this material. If we find any titles that did, we will notify the publishers of those titles and will advise the publishers that future printings of those titles should use binders with either cloth or paper covers instead of vinyl. (Phthalates are substances that help make plastic more flexible; therefore, they are only found in some materials made from plastics.)

AAP, BMI, and other industry associations are working hard to persuade the CPSC and Congress that printed books should not be subjected to the testing requirements of the CPSIA. Because the materials we now use in ordinary books easily conform to the most stringent limits contemplated under the CPSIA, the testing requirements would impose a terrible burden on the book industry, without providing any benefit to the public. We’ll keep you informed on developments concerning the testing requirements of finished products and the industry’s efforts to have those requirements lifted.

CPSC Assurance Verification
Upon request a book manufacturer can issue a statement/letter verifying that the children’s books they produce conform to the limits imposed by the CPSIA. In most cases, only total lead in product (substrate) requirements of Section 101 of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 applies. If the book has ‘some inherent play value and constitutes a toy or has toy like features’, Section 108 of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 may also apply.

A very recent ruling by NY Federal Judge Paul G. Gardephe has stated that the lead and phthalates limits should apply to existing inventory. Based on our ‘reasonable testing program’, we wish to assure you that with the exception of vinyl binders, the books printed at Think are in compliance with the law. The absence of lead and phthalates from the materials we use to print and bind books is not a new phenomenon. In a February 5, 2009 CPSC draft statement of commission enforcement policy on Section 101 lead limits; it states that for ordinary children’s books printed after 1985 there is no knowledge of a single documented case where the lead content fell above 300 ppm. Furthermore, the Commission’s Office of Compliance will not prosecute for any product containing more than 600 ppm as long as the manufacturer was not aware of the content or continue to manufacture the product after being put on notice by the Commission. As mentioned above, if we find that we have used vinyl binders for any printings of children’s books in the past, we will notify the appropriate publishers so that they can select different materials for future printings. However, because the phthalate limits do not apply to products made in the past, any inventories of those items now in existence do conform to the law.

Verification is not required for products made for adults or general audiences that include children.

Verification is only required for those books designed and intended primarily for children 12 & under.

Please let your Think Sales Representative or Customer Service Representative know if you require documentation related to the CPSIA.

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