The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has unanimously adopted new third-party testing requirements for phthalates in children’s toys and child care articles to ensure that the products meet federal phthalate limits. Phthalates are a type of chemical used to make plastics and other materials more flexible. Although manufacturers and importers of these products have been required to comply with phthalate limits since February 2009, CPSC had previously allowed manufacturers, importers and private labelers additional time to put an independent testing and certification program in place. Under the new requirements, the commission has agreed to a stay of enforcement for third-party testing until December 31, 2011.

The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 permanently prohibited the use of three phthalates in concentrations greater than 0.1 percent in children’s toys and child care articles and temporarily banned—pending further study—the use of three others in concentrations greater than 0.1 percent in children’s toys that can be “mouthed, sucked or chewed.” Under the new rules, testing applies to “only those plastic parts or other product parts which could conceivably contain phthalates,” CPSC said. “[U]ntreated/unfinished wood, metal, natural fibers, natural latex and mineral products” that are not expected to inherently contain phthalates need not be tested, however, “unless they are treated or adulterated with materials that could result in the addition of phthalates into the product or material.” See Law360, July 28, 2011; CPSC Press Release, July 29, 2011.