Congress Passes Bill Lessening Burden of Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act

August 5, 2011

Both the House and the Senate passed HR 2715, which modifies the 2008 Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA or Act). The bill received nearly unanimous support in the House and unanimous Senate approval. The president is expected to sign the bill before August 14.

The bill would modify the CPSIA in a number of significant ways, including:

  • The bill clarifies that the Act’s 100 ppm lead content limit for children’s products applies only to products manufactured after August 14, 2011. The CPSC had previously interpreted these lead limits to be retroactive, meaning that children’s products containing more than 100 ppm lead content could not be sold after August 14, irrespective of the manufacture date.
  • The bill gives the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) more flexibility and authority to grant exemptions from the Act’s lead requirements based on practicability or feasibility.
  • The bill allows the CPSC to change its present method of determining the harm to public health from blood lead level testing to an alternative method if the alternative method is determined to be a better measure of public health.
  • The bill requires the CPSC to consider ways of reducing the amount of required third-party testing, especially redundant testing of a product imported by two different companies.
  • The bill replaces the requirement of “random” sample product testing with a less burdensome requirement of “representative” sample product testing.
  • The bill exempts printed materials and books from third-party testing requirements.
  • The bill changes the CPSC’s phthalate testing requirements to apply to product components that are accessible based on foreseeable use and misuse and to those product components that may actually contain phthalates.
  • The bill gives the CPSC authority to exempt certain products from the CPSIA’s tracking label requirements. Specifically, the CPSC may exempt products from the CPSIA’s labeling requirements if such labeling is deemed impracticable.
  • Finally, the bill changes the way that the CPSC handles claims of material inaccuracy in information received for publication in its publicly available consumer product safety information database. Presently, the CPSC can publish information that is claimed to be materially inaccurate prior to making a ruling on that claim. Under the bill, the CPSC must refrain from publishing any report or comment for five days after receiving a claim that the information contains a material inaccuracy.

The McGuireWoods Consumer Product Safety Team represents clients in risk management, regulatory and litigation matters involving the Consumer Product Safety Commission. We have more than three decades of experience in this field, and our clients include domestic and international manufacturers, importers, and retailers of some of the world’s best-known products.