The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has announced that it has extended its stay of enforcement for testing and certification of total lead content in children’s products until the end of 2011. Responding to requests from businesses for more time to test the lead content of component parts, CPSC’s action represents the third time that the agency has extended the stay, which does not apply to metal components of children’s jewelry.

“Starting on December 31, 2011, manufacturers and importers of children’s products that are subject to the lead content limit must have the appropriate certificates that indicate that their products have been tested by a CPSC-approved third party laboratory, in order for their products to be sold in the United States,” according to a CPSC news release.

Commissioner Anne Northup said that extending the stay for an additional 11 months “is an important step toward fulfilling the [c]ommission’s commitment to allow component parts testing and certification to become a viable compliance alternative for manufacturers before third- party testing and certification for lead content in most children’s products becomes mandatory.” Noting that “third-party testing imposes a financial burden that many manufacturers, and particularly small ones, may never be able to bear,” Northup said “it is essential that the stay not be lifted before there is at least an opportunity for certified component parts to form the basis for the final product certifications of small manufacturers.”

Despite the stay, CPSC noted that manufacturers, importers and retailers of children’s products must continue to comply with the federal restrictions for total lead content of no more than 300 parts per million (ppm). “The lead content limit will drop to 100 ppm on August 14, 2011, unless CPSC determines that it is not technologically feasible to establish this lower limit for a product or product category” the commission said. “The stay of enforcement does not apply to the 90 ppm limit on lead in paint and surface coatings or to the current 300 ppm limit on lead content in metal components of children’s jewelry. Certification based on third party testing is currently required for children’s products in these categories.” See CPSC Press Release, February 2, 2011; Federal Register, February 8, 2011.