The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) just announced that it will vote February 9, 2009 on the National Association of Manufacturers’ (NAM) request to stay certain provisions of the CPSIA, which imposes new lead content limits on children’s products. The stay would delay the effective date of the new lead limits on accessible parts and components of children's products. Currently, the new limits would go into effect on February 10, 2009. NAM requests the limit to be stayed for 185 days or until 90 days after CPSC issues final rules and guidance for the implementation of the lead content limits.
NAM requested this stay because of a myriad of problems under the current law. CPSC has proposed rules defining “accessible parts and components,” but these rules will not be in place until well after February 10, 2009. And CPSC has not provided any guidance on how manufacturers and importers should test lead levels. Because of all this uncertainty, manufacturers, retailers and other stakeholders fear that many existing legally-produced products may be pulled from the market out of fear of non-compliance.
It looks like the stay may be a tough sell to the CPSC. Agency staff has previously – and repeatedly – stated that the Commission is powerless to change deadlines expressly set by Congress, and Chairman Nancy Nord has recently been subject to scathing criticism from both Congress and her only fellow CPSC Commissioner, Thomas Moore. Moore’s statement sends a strong signal that he will vote against the stay. Regardless of the vote, many large retailers, who have largely be driving the establishment of manufacturer compliance programs from the outset, have already lowered their lead substrate requirements to well below the levels to be required on February 10.