“Whether consideration of third-party testing of component parts should be given for any particular industry groups or particular component parts and materials. Explain what it is about these industries, component parts, and/or materials that make them uniquely suited to this approach.”
The Apparel Industry: The aim of the CPSIA is to keep dangerous products out of the hands of children. If manufacturers are able to use component and supplier provided testing of fabrics and other inputs, and spread the cost of testing over a larger product range (ie. the same zipper on 5 different garments, the same snaps on an entire product line) then the business can afford to be compliant. Also consumers would benefit from lower prices. If the apparel manufacturer must test each unit, costs will skyrocket, and many companies will fail.
There should also be a subset of exemptions for materials used in any industry that are inherently lead free, and do not pose a health risk to children. For the textiles, apparel and footwear sectors, fabrics, thread and other materials should be excluded because they are known to contain no or very low amounts of lead. Paper, printing inks, laminates, adhesives, bindings and cardboard used in books and other paper-based printed materials and toys should also be excluded.
There are already international standards in place for fabrics. Oeko-tex and GOTS certified fabric already exceed the standards set forth in the CPSIA. Apparel manufacturers should be able to choose these inputs without having to incur any additional testing at all, as they are already inherently safe. Many suppliers already test their products, and companies should be allowed to use these certificates as part of their “reasonable testing programs.”
Also, an exemption should be given for components that are inaccessible. The CPSIA establishes one clear example of an inaccessible component part: a part which is not physically exposed by reason of a sealed covering or casing that can withstand appropriate use and abuse testing. There is sufficient evidence for the Commission to immediately conclude that certain components of children’s products do not present hazards based on their inaccessibility to children when contained in the product, to include circuit boards that are in a sealed covering, innersprings in upholstered furniture, and other products that are inaccessible when considering normal use and abuse.
Toys that are component tested v. unit tested would also be inherently safer. If only one small component on an entire toy tests for higher levels of lead, then that component may not be enough to put that toy in the non-compliant category. But if it were component tested, and that component were to test at or higher than the threshold level, then that component would have to be replaced with a suitable substitute, thus making the unit inherently safer.
Feel free to comment! I am going to work on some rewrites this week, and will be sending mine to the CPSC as soon as those are complete. Feel free to copy any portion of my comments, and change to suit your own needs. The more people that comment on component v. unit testing, the better. Also, please review the NAM Petition. I am going to submit a copy of this petition along with my comments, as I wholeheartedly support it. All comments are due by January 30, 2009.