Both houses of Congress recently passed bipartisan legislation (H.R. 2715) amending the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA). Intended to give the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) greater flexibility in enforcing consumer product safety laws, the legislation awaits President Barack Obama’s (D) signature. Introduced on August 1, it passed the same day by a 421-2 vote in the House and unanimously in the Senate.

Among other matters, the law would clarify that a new rule reducing the amount of total lead in children’s products from 300 parts per million (ppm) to 100 ppm applies to those products manufactured after August 14, 2011, only. Some manufacturers had argued that the lead-content limits, created to allay fears that children could be harmed by lead poisoning after chewing on toys, were overly burdensome to small businesses with older inventory.  

The law would exempt some products, such as used children’s toys—except metal jewelry or other items known to violate the lead limits—bicycles, all-terrain vehicles, and printed books, from the new lower threshold. Other provisions exclude third-party testing for “small batch” manufacturers and exclude inaccessible component parts from CPSIA’s phthalate limits. The bill, if signed into law, will give CPSC the authority to exclude specific products or product classes from tracking-label requirements.  

The bill would also make minor changes to CPSC’s consumer product safety database, including requiring that the agency stay posting an incident report if it “receives notice that the information in such report or comment is materially inaccurate.” Previously, the law required CPSC to “determine” that an incident report is materially inaccurate. The bill would also add a paragraph requiring the agency to seek model or serial numbers from those submitting reports about specific consumer products, or a photograph if the numbers are not available. This information would have to be forwarded immediately to manufacturers.

Calling the bill a “win for everyone,” the bill’s sponsor, Representative Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.), asserted in a press release that the measure strikes a balance between protecting children and regulations that burden businesses. “It’s good for American consumers and American businesses and will save American jobs,” she said. See U.S. Rep. Mary Bono Mack Press Release, August 1, 2011.