On December 17, the Consumer Product Safety Commission voted four to one—with Commissioner Robert Adler voting against—to extend the stay of enforcement on the independent lead testing and certification provisions of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act for one more year. The provisions will go into effect on February 10, 2011. The extension will give publishers more time to adapt to the provisions.
“The extension of the stay was needed in order to give the agency more time to promulgate rules important to the continued implementation of the CPSIA and for the agency to educate our stakeholders on the requirements of those new rules,” CPSC chair Inez Tenenbaum wrote in a statement.
The Commission is still ironing out the testing protocols dictated by the Act, and needs to expand the list of independent laboratories authorized to do the testing, among other pending issues. While many children’s books printed after 1985 do not have to be tested, those featuring foils, laminates, spiral bindings and other components outside of paper and ink currently do, although the Association of American Publishers continues to lobby to have “ordinary” books exempted altogether. Toy-like novelty and book-plus titles also need to be tested. Although the Commission will not enforce the independent testing and certification rules until 2011, the products still must contain lead levels under the current 300-parts-per-million limit set forth by the Act.
“From our perspective, they did the right thing,” said Allan Adler, v-p for legal and government affairs at the AAP. “It shows that they’re listening, and that they’re looking for ways to make an otherwise rigid policy workable.”
The CPSC also voted to approve an interim testing policy that allows component part testing, something the industry has been hoping for, rather than testing of the final product. In other words, a publisher would be allowed to purchase an already tested and certified spiral binding or toy component to be attached to the book, rather than having to put the entire finished book through a costly testing process.
Meanwhile, on the legislative front, the Consolidated Appropriations Act that was signed into law by President Obama last week contained a Congressional directive to the CPSC that asked the Commission to write a report for Congress on the problems being encountered in implementing the CPSIA and offering suggestions for revisions. This signals that Congress may be willing to either amend the law or grant the Commission more discretion in interpreting it.
“We’ve been working almost without let-up on this for a full 13 months,” Adler noted. “It shows you the complexity of it. The Commission is also working very, very hard, and it still hasn’t resolved some of the fundamental issues about testing. But we’re encouraged. There’s still a lot to do, but the Commission seems to be willing to exercise what creativity it can to resolve the issues.”