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CPSIA and its Implications for Finishers

by Staff

February-March, 2011
As the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) continues to make its way through various legislative hurdles, questions continue to arise regarding lead and phthalate testing and its applicability to finishing operations. Not all finishers are clear as to the testing requirements and the manner in which the requirements will affect their business.

Lead and phthalate testing and certification requirements were to be enforced as of February 10, 2010. However, after feedback from the printing community as well as other regulated industries, stays have been granted by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), extending the deadline for testing and certification requirements to December 31, 2011. Manufacturers, however, have been required to meet the lead and phthalates limits since the Act took effect on February 14, 2009.

At this time, it would be wise for binders and finishers to prepare to meet the testing and certification requirements of the Act.

What is CPSIA?
In August 2008, the U.S. Congress established safety standards for children’s products – including books and items that may be considered toys – under the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. The Act set acceptable levels for lead and for certain phthalates, which are chemicals that make plastic soft, and requires third-party testing for lead in certain products intended for children ages 12 or under. As can be imagined, the print and publishing industries reacted strongly to the CPSIA and questions are still arising as to its implications for printers, binders and finishers. The full text of the CPSIA can be found at http://www.cpsc.gov/cpsia.pdf.

What Is A Children’s Product, Children’s Toy and Child Care Article?
According to the FAQ section of the Printing Industry of America’s website:

The term “children’s product” is broadly defined by the CPSC, as a “consumer product designed or intended primarily for children 12 years of age or younger” and includes such items as children’s books, magazines, flashcards, etc.

The term ”children’s toy” is defined by the CPSC as a “consumer product designed or intended by the manufacturer for a child 12 years of age or younger for use by the child when the child plays” and would include printed materials that have “play value” such as bath books, sticker books, coloring books, etc.

The CPSC defines “child care articles” as a “consumer product designed or intended by the manufacturer to facilitate sleep or the feeding of children age three and younger or to help such children with sucking or teething” and includes such products as sleepwear and pacifiers.

What Testing Must be Done for CPSIA Compliance?
As noted, the testing requirements were granted a stay and are now taking effect on December 31, 2011. The CPSC is working on a comprehensive testing rule which will detail the testing requirements, such as sampling, frequency and quality control measures. Testing will be allowed to be conducted on either the finished product or each component. Due to work done by the printing community, several key component materials were exempted from the testing and certification requirements by the CPSC on August 26, 2009. These materials are paper, CMYK inks, coatings, animal-based glues, untreated leather, thread for bookbinding and inaccessible parts. Several other components have not been exempted, and they include foils, laminates, spot inks, non-animal-based adhesives, saddlestitching wire and plastic and metal coils for coil-bound products.

Finishers need to be aware of their responsibility in regards to compliance regarding the individual components that are used to make a children’s printed product (e.g., paper, inks, foils, binding components). Component manufacturers should be able to provide proof and results of lab testing and accreditation upon request.

What are Coil Manufacturers Doing to Meet CPSIA Requirements?
Anna Massey, sales and marketing manager for Gateway Bookbinding Systems, Ltd., explained the process the company went through to confirm that its PLASTIKOIL binding is lead- and phthalate- free. “When the legislation was originally initiated, we immediately went to work with our base resin and colorant suppliers. We already knew that our PVC base compound was lead-free and phthalate-free because it is actually a food grade compound. However, we still had our compound supplier confirm through accredited lab testing that the material was well within the <100 ppm lead content and < 0.1 percent phthalate content that was stipulated.” Massey said that because the PLASTIKOIL product is manufactured in 45 different colors, Gateway also had to confirm that all 45 colors met the specifications. 

To assist its binder partners, Gateway keeps all lab testing and accreditation on file and available upon request. All of its PLASTIKOIL coil and filament customers are provided Certificates of Conformity, offering assurance that Gateway’s products meet the CPSIA standards.

Matt Roth, vice president for Spiral Binding Co./James Burn, explained that the certification process was relatively simple, albeit expensive. The company knew compliance would be critical to its customers since it was a wire-bound book that started the original lead scare in the United States. “Not only do we support the Nation’s cause to make sure our children’s books are bound safely, we viewed this as an opportunity to distinguish ourselves and our bindery partners from those using low-priced imported wire that might not be CPSIA-compliant and lead- and phthalate-free. With certification on file, our bindery partners can feel confident using our products in their operation and can prove to their customers that the binding elements they use in their books are safe.”

How Does CPSIA Affect Children’s Books?
In the Frequently Asked Question section of the CPSC website, the following question was posed:

Does the new requirement for total lead on children’s products apply to children’s books, cassettes and CD’s, printed game boards, posters and other printed goods used for children’s education?

In general, yes. CPSIA defines children’s products as those products intended primarily for use by children 12 and under. Accordingly, these products would be subject to the lead limit for paint and surface coatings at 16 CFR part 1303 (and the 90 ppm lead paint limit effective August 14, 2009) as well as the new lead limits for children’s products containing lead (600 ppm lead limit effective February 10, 2009, and 300 ppm lead limit effective August 14, 2009). If the children’s products use printing inks or materials which actually become a part of the substrate, such as the pigment in a plastic article, or those materials which are actually bonded to the substrate, such as by electroplating or ceramic glazing, they would be excluded from the lead paint limit. However, these products are still considered to be lead containing products irrespective of whether such products are excluded from the lead paint limit and are subject to the lead limits for children’s products containing lead. For lead containing children’s products, CPSIA specifically provides that paint, coatings, or electroplating may not be considered a barrier that would render lead in the substrate inaccessible to a child.
How Do CPSIA Standards Affect the Use of Hot Stamping Foils?
Since hot stamping foils can be used to produce children’s books and other printed matter for children, they are required to meet the limits for lead and if, incorporated into a children’s product that has play value, the phthalate limits. The CPCS was requested to exempt hot stamping foil and other components (such as laminates, paper and ink) and CPSC’s initial response from August 26, 2009 was to deny the request. The CPSC was concerned that Poly Vinyl Chloride (PVC) and the aluminum used in the manufacturing of the foil could contain lead as a contaminant above the threshold of 100 parts per million. Lead can be used as a stabilizer for certain forms of PVC, especially if it is to be extruded under high temperatures.

The position taken by the CPSC clearly showed that additional technical information about foil construction would be required to obtain an exemption from the testing and certification requirements. The Foil & Specialty Effects Association contacted several of its key members and it was agreed that ITW Foils would be the source for the information. ITW provided detailed information about foil construction, purity of the aluminum and why lead or PVC stabilized with lead would cause significant product problems with the manufacturing and application of foils. This information will be included in a submission to the CPSC requesting exemptions for the component materials that were not exempt in August 2009.

For links to additional CPSIA information, including the Printing Industries of America’s CPSIA Resource page, visit www.fsea.com.

InsideFinishing would like to thank Gary Jones, assistant vice president, EHS Affairs, Printing Industries of America, for his valuable input.

Additional Resources:
Due to the complexities and ever-changing interpretations of CPSIA, printers, finishers and binders should monitor the CPSC website for amendments to the act. http://www.cpsc.gov/ABOUT/Cpsia/cpsia.HTML#whatsnew

The Printing Industries of America also has created a CPSIA Resource Page, which can be found at http://www.printing.org/page/4344.

To access the CPSIA Frequently Asked Question section, visit http://www.cpsc.gov/about/cpsia/faq/101faq.html.

Additionally, the CPSC website contains a statement from the General Counsel Advisory, regarding books and the CPSIA: http://www.cpsc.gov/library/foia/advisory/323.pdf.