The Consumer Product Safety Improvements Act ("CPSIA") imposes new requirements on manufacturers, importers and retailers of children's products beginning February 10, 2009. The CPSIA defines "children's products" as a "consumer product designed or intended primarily for children 12 years of age or younger," which includes children's clothing. A General Certificate of Conformity (""GCC") is required for goods starting November 12, 2008. Under the new requirements, children's products cannot be sold if they contain more than 600 parts per million (ppm) total lead. Those that resell products or continue to sell products in existing inventory in violation of the limit could face civil and/or criminal penalties.

This means that even if a garment was manufactured before February 10, 2009, it cannot be stocked on retail shelves if the lead content exceeds 600 ppm. Retailers are already rejecting shipments from manufacturers on the basis that the lead content exceeds the new limit, causing huge losses to the manufacturers. After August 14, 2009, the legal limit will drop to 300 ppm. Accordingly, manufacturers will need to adjust their production practices well in advance of that date to avoid the situation many find themselves in now.

The law may also apply to in-store fixtures and furniture. Retailers of children's products should determine whether their fixtures are subject to the new CPSIA requirements and whether they need to be tested. More guidance is available at the Consumer Produce Safety Commission website at http://www.cpsc.gov/. The Commission is also holding an open public comment period until January 30, 2009 on component parts testing, and is scheduled to hold public meetings with national apparel and publishing groups on January 22, 2009.