Screen Printing - February/March 2016 - (Page 16)
bu s i n e s s p e r s p e cti ves
ARE YOU CONFUSED ABOUT
Eight years after the landmark safety legislation
was enacted, questions and controversies remain.
Marcia Y. Kinter
Marcia Y. Kinter is VP of government and business information with SGIA.
She represents association members before federal and state regulatory
agencies and the US Congress on environmental, safety,
labor, trade, and other issues directly impacting specialty
printing businesses. Kinter is a member of the Academy of
Screen and Digital Printing Technologies.
he Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA),
enacted in August 2008, is still causing a great deal of confusion among specialty printers who manufacture children's
products. Many misunderstand what the regulatory puzzle
means and who is responsible for which piece. Amendments
that were passed in August 2011 did little to clarify the
matter. And the CPSIA isn't going away. Last December,
President Obama signed the Consolidated Appropriations
Act, which contains a provision appropriating $1,000,000 in
funds (available until September 2017) for the Consumer
Products Safety Commission (CPSC) to reduce the costs
of complying with the third-party testing requirement for
certification of children's products, a key element in the 2011
legislative amendments. While CPSC has taken small steps
down this path, much work still remains to be accomplished.
One of the most confusing aspects of the regulations remains the use of what's known as component part testing,
which allows companies that manufacture products such
as children's printed apparel to test individual elements of a
product (the ink, for example) in order to be certified rather
than the product itself. The regulation gives companies that
manufacture (meaning print, in the case of printed apparel) or
import such goods the option of doing the testing themselves
or relying upon tests conducted by a third party (such as the
company that manufactured the ink), provided they complied
with all CPSC regulatory requirements. This is obviously a key
distinction for a garment or promotional products decorator,
because the availability of acceptable third-party tests could
lessen the burden of testing.
Some complained that the regulatory language was not
flexible enough to allow for component part testing for the
solubility of specified chemicals used on toy substrates, with
the exception of testing the lead and phthalate content of
paint. CPSC has issued new regulatory language specifically
stating that component part testing may be used beyond lead
and phthalate content.
But an important word on component part testing for
the garment decoration community: It's not mandatory. The
manufacturer of the final product purchased by the consumer
is the party responsible for ensuring that the product complies with the lead and/or phthalate content limits. The ink
manufacturer is not required to provide testing information
because the printer is ultimately responsible for compliance
and providing the children's product certificate.
Another Small Step
The CPSC also included a section listing categories of products and materials that are exempt from lead testing under
the CPSIA, stating that "textiles (excluding after-treatment
applications, including screen prints, transfers, decals, or other
prints)" were exempt from the third-party testing requirements
for lead. The exemption language is really confusing, partly
because the most important clause for our industry is in parentheses. What it's saying is that, while the textile itself is exempt
from testing requirements, the decorations (screen printed or
otherwise) are not - for most of us, not favorable language.
But the phrase "or other prints" prompted additional
questions. In another final rule, the Commission amended the
provisions to clarify that dyed textiles, regardless of the techniques used to produce and apply the colorants, are not subject to the required testing for lead. In amending the language,
the Commission stated that the process used to manufacture,
print, or apply colorants is not the defining factor. The central
issue remains whether or not the textile products are dyed or
include other non-dye finishes. Those products, where the nondye substances do not become a part of the fabric matrix but
remain, as defined by the CPSC, a surface coating, are subject
to the testing required for children's products by the CPSIA.
This regulatory amendment codifies the long-held policy
of the CPSC regarding scrapable and nonscrapable coatings.
Remember, in the CPSC regulatory world, our ink systems are
considered surface coatings. When a surface coating can be
scraped off, then it must be tested to ensure compliance with
the lead content limit.
The key words remain "part of the fabric matrix." It can
be argued that garments that undergo dye sublimation or use
discharge inks are exempt from the testing requirements. However, even if your product is exempt from testing, you must still
comply with all other CPSIA requirements, including labels.
Many printers are. More than seven years after the legislation
was enacted, there still does not appear to be visible enforcement by the CPSC on products manufactured within the US.
The majority of the violations are found at the point of entry
for imports, and primarily involve tracking labels and thirdparty certificates.
Tracking labels are another common source of confusion. Their purpose is to provide direct information to the
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Screen Printing - February/March 2016
Screen Printing - February/March 2016
Are You Confused about CPSIA Regulations?
Clothing Becomes Electric
The Power of Pigment
Understanding the Garment: Selection, Testing, and Prep
Who’s in Charge here?
Screen Printing - February/March 2016