15 Feb 2018
Safety Standard for Infant Sling Carriers Enters into Force as CPSC Expands Third-Party Exemption for Phthalates
The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that a new federal mandatory safety standard for infant sling carriers will apply to any such product imported or manufactured after 30 January. CPSC commissioner Ann Marie Buerkle said last year when the standard was approved that it will require all such slings to be certified based on third-party testing, even those produced by “the smallest sling makers,” because Congress did not allow a “small batch” exemption for this type of safety standard.
Infant sling carriers are worn by the parent or caregiver and are designed to carry an infant/toddler in an upright or reclined position. Slings generally are intended for infants and toddlers between 8 and 35 pounds. Designs typically range from unstructured hammock-shaped products that suspend from the caregiver’s body to long lengths of material or fabric that wrap around the caregiver’s body.
The CPSC states that under the new standard all infant slings must have permanently attached warning labels and come with instructions, like illustrated diagrams, to show the proper position of a child in the sling. Warning labels must include statements about the suffocation hazards posed by slings and prevention measures, the hazards of children falling out of slings, and a reminder for caregivers to check the buckles, snaps, rings and other hardware to make sure no parts are broken. The standard also requires sling carriers to be able to carry up to three times the manufacturer’s maximum recommended weight; be more durable to avoid seam separations, fabric tears, breakage, etc.; and be able to keep the child being carried from falling out of the sling during normal use.
Separately, the CPSC has issued a direct final rule expanding the number of phthalates that seven plastics with specified additives have been determined to not contain. As a result, children’s toys and child care articles made with such plastics that contain these additional phthalates will not require third-party testing for compliance with the statutory prohibition on phthalates in such goods. This rule will be effective as of 25 April unless significant adverse comment is received by 26 February.
Phthalates are not naturally occurring materials but are intentionally created and used in specific applications; e.g., plastics, surface coatings, solvents, inks, adhesives and some rubberised materials. One application of phthalates in children’s toys and child care articles is as a plasticiser or softener for plastic component parts.
The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 permanently prohibits children’s toys and child care articles that contain three specified phthalates (DEHP, DBP and BBP) in concentrations above 0.1 percent in accessible plasticised component parts and other component parts made of materials that may contain phthalates. Children’s toys and child care articles subject to these content limits require third-party testing for compliance before the manufacturer can issue a children’s product certificate and enter the items into commerce. However, the CPSC lifted this testing requirement for such goods containing specific plastics and accompanying additives after finding little evidence that they use any of the prohibited phthalates.
The CPSC later added the phthalates DIBP, DPENP, DHEXP, DCHP and DINP to the list of those prohibited in children’s toys and child care articles above the specified limit. The CPSC is therefore now adding these phthalates to the list of those that the specified plastics and accompanying additives are not considered to use. As a result, when plastics and additives containing these phthalates are used in such goods, importers and manufacturers will not be required to conduct third-party testing to assure compliance. However, children’s toys and child care articles will still have to comply with the substantive phthalates content limits and manufacturers will still have to issue certificates stating that their products comply with CPSC requirements.