Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: Now that it's February 10th, do I have to stop selling children's Items that have not been tested for lead?

A: No, not at all. Before you start throwing your toys on the bonfire or hanging up your knitting needles, please understand that the CPSIA does not make it illegal to sell children's products. So what happens today? As of today, the new legal lead limit for products intended for children 12 years and younger has been reduced to 600ppm. On August 14th, 2009, the legal limit will drop to 300ppm. The new legal limit for Phthalates is 0.1% of the total weight of a children's product.

Q. What the heck are phthalates?

Phthalates are particularly nasty substances added to plastics to increase their flexibility.

Q. Do I need to have my goods tested by a third party testing facility?

At this point, manufacturers do not need to have third party testing or lead-free certification for their products, but are liable if their products contain more than the legal limit of lead or phthalates. This remains the case until February 10th, 2010. We are not yet sure what will happen one year from now. (Keep the pressure on!)

Q. Ok, I understand that my products do not need to have third party testing or certification at this point, but I know that I am also still liable. I want to make sure my items are safe for children because this is the right thing to do! How can I assure that my products do not have lead in them?


  • Work in materials that you know are lead free.
  • Avoid zippers and other fasteners that may contain lead. Instead, use wood buttons or other natural materials.
  • Look to less expensive home testing technologies, especially XRF. Pool resources with other sellers in your area and test together to save money.

Q. What materials are recognized as lead-free by the CPSC?

The following materials are known by the CPSC to be inherently lead-free or are exempt, and can be used in their untreated/unpainted state without any risk of sanction or penalties by the Commission.

  • Precious gemstones: diamond, ruby, sapphire or emeralds
  • Semiprecious stones provided that the mineral or material is not based on lead and is not associated with any mineral based on lead
  • Natural or cultured pearls
  • Wood
  • Other natural materials including coral, amber, feathers, fur, and untreated leather
  • Surgical steel
  • Gold, of at least 10 karats
  • Silver, at least 925/1000 pure
  • Platinum, palladium, rhodium, osmium, iridium, and ruthenium
  • Yarn, dyed or undyed
  • Dyed or undyed textiles (cotton, wool, hemp, nylon, etc.), including children’s fabric products, such as baby blankets, and non‐metallic thread and trim. This does not include products that have rhinestones or other ornaments that may contain lead or that have fasteners with possible lead content (such as buttons, metal snaps, zippers or grommets).
  • Children’s books printed after 1985 that are conventionally printed and intended to be read, as opposed to used for play
  • Certain educational materials, such as chemistry sets

The Commission has also provided limited exclusions for products containing component parts that contain lead in excess of the 600ppm limit, specifically:

  • Components that are not accessible, that is cannot be reached by a small child’s finger or tongue. Paint and other coatings or electroplating are not considered barriers that make a component inaccessible.
  • Components of electronics devices intended for children that cannot be made inaccessible and cannot currently be made with a lead level that meets the limit.

Q. I am outside of the United States. Does the CPSIA apply to me?

A: Yes. If you are selling products to customers in the USA, you must be fully compliant with the CPSIA.

Q. Where do things stand for vintage sellers?

Vintage sellers are not required to test their products for lead and phthalates. However, you are liable should the products you sell be over the legal limits.

Further Resources:

- For more info, read the CPSC Small Business Guide or download the PDF.

- The Consumer Product Safety Commission is in charge of implementation and enforcement of the CPSIA. Visit their CPSIA landing page.

- You can sign up for CPSC email updates here.

- Keep informed on CPSC updates here.

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