The Consumer Product Safety Commission announced on Tuesday that it would extend the stay of enforcement on total lead content in children’s products, as dictated in section 102 of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, until December 31, 2011. The vote was four to one, with Commissioner Robert Adler dissenting.

The stay had been scheduled to expire on February 10. “This is great news," said Gary Jones, assistant v-p, environmental, health and safety affairs, Printing Industries of America. “Without the stay, it would have been complete chaos.”

Under the CPSIA, products for children under 12, including some books, must have a Certificate of Compliance showing they have been tested for acceptable total lead levels. The CPSC has not yet clarified the acceptable procedures for testing and certification, however; the extension of the stay gives it more time to issue these guidelines before the requirements are enforced. While most “ordinary” children’s books (those made of process inks on paper or board) do not need to be tested, novelty and book-plus formats, as well as titles incorporating PMS inks, laminates, foils, wire, non-animal-based adhesives and other components, do.

Other unresolved issues that also need to be addressed before the end of the year include the feasibility of the Act’s 100 parts per million total lead level requirement and the capacity of accredited labs to handle the volume of testing, which will depend on the guidance. The testing and certification rule currently under consideration calls for representative testing once per year or less; any more frequent testing or higher sample sizes could swamp the ability of the labs to issue certifications in a timely manner.

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