Thursday, December 18, 2008

Making Sense of the CPSIA (Clothing)

This will be the last post about the CPSIA, this was gleaned from
Fashion Incubator
and written by site owner, and CPSIA "War room" coordinator,
Kathleen Fasanella.

A fashion industry insider with 27 years experience.

Designing Minds hopes the info we have gathered about the CPSIA has opened your eyes if nothing else to the fact that all of us WAHM/ Boutique designers could possibly be out of work come February, 2009.

"In this portion I’ll explain which classes of products need to be tested, if they need to be tested and how this is effected. This first part will deal with kid’s products. Even if you don’t make kids products per se, please humor me and read it because some obscure things can affect you and you don’t want any nasty surprises.

Children’s wear:
Not everything is tested equally under this new law so pay close attention. If you are currently making a product that falls under other CPSC guidelines such as for flammability, you can continue to use component testing for those attributes. You are also permitted to use vendor supplied third party certifications for product integrity. However, the lead and phthalate aspects are different. For lead and phthalate, unit testing is required; this is separate and apart from flammability and draw cords and what not.

What must be tested: Lead
All sewn products intended for use of children 12 and younger must be unit tested for lead at this time. Lobbying groups are looking for exclusions for certain categories of goods like tee shirts. Toward the end of proving lead is not a dangerous element in kid’s apparel, I have been asked to make a request of you. If you have any lead or phthalate test results from a certified laboratory, please send them to me and I’ll pass them along.

Another question I’ve been asked is, “can I use my supplier’s third party certifications to comply with the lead and phthalate law instead of testing it myself”. The answer is no. You cannot. I mean, not for lead and phthalates but you can for flammability etc.

A note to adult clothing producers:
Sure, you read 12 and under and breathe a sigh of relief thinking this doesn’t apply to you but don’t be so quick. From now on, I will be recommending that everyone place a line of copy on their hang tags and on their order form that reads “This product is not intended for use by children aged 12 and under.” The reason is, you really have no assurances that it won’t be. Maybe a twelve year old is mature and likes your stuff or mom buys it and gives it to her. If you don’t actively market your product as intended for adults, you may have to test your products too. Two of the panel speakers (Rachel Murray Meyer and Carol Pollack Nelson) provided some provocative ideas about age grading, human factor assessments and targeted age related marketing that could trip you up. For example, considering how popular the application of Swarovski crystals on tee shirts has become, particularly with tweens… well, I think that’s enough said. If you didn’t know, the crystals are almost entirely lead.

What must be tested: Phthalates
Since we’re just doing sewn products, I’ll restrict my comments to that. Phthalates are a plasticizing agent. It can (potentially) be found in several child related products. Not all children’s items must be tested, only certain categories and then, only products intended for children aged 3 and younger (caveat on the age disclaimer above applies). Specifically, sewn products that are described as “child care” items must be tested. These include items such as bibs, diapers or diaper covers, footed pajamas etc. In other words, such items that contain plastics or plastic coated materials."

(from Fashion Incubator, Nov. 2008)

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