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Update on Recent Consumer Product Safety Commission Actions

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has received a petition from the Halogenated Solvents Industry Alliance Inc. requesting an amendment to the agency’s 1987 statement of interpretation and enforcement policy regarding the labelling of household products containing methylene chloride. Specifically, the petition is requesting the expansion the policy statement to address acute hazards from inhalation of methylene chloride vapours in addition to the chronic hazards addressed by the current policy statement. Written comments on this petition may be submitted by 31 October.

The CPSC’s policy statement sets forth general principles and examples for labelling to warn consumers of potential cancer hazards but it does not currently address acute hazards. The petitioner notes, however, that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health have issued a health hazard identifying at least 14 deaths associated with the use of methylene chloride-containing paint strippers by professional bathtub refinishing operations. Although the petitioner refers to incidents involving workers, methylene chloride paint strippers are household products available for consumers to purchase and use. The petitioner believes that revising the policy statement to give specific guidance on labelling for the acute hazard posed by inhalation of methylene chloride vapours, particularly when used in an enclosed space such as when refinishing bathtubs, would help prevent future fatalities.

In a separate action, the CPSC is seeking comments by 6 October on a proposed statement of policy regarding the Commission’s interpretation of the phrase “intended to produce audible effects” that appears in the fireworks regulations. The CPSC indicates that the proposed interpretation is not a binding rule and would not change any person’s rights, duties or obligations under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act or any other act administered by the Commission.

Under the FHSA, the CPSC has banned all fireworks devices intended to produce audible effects if the audible effect is produced by a charge of more than two grains of pyrotechnic composition. Commission staff determine whether a fireworks device was intended to produce an audible effect by evaluating the relative intensity of the sound produced by such device. The CPSC is now proposing to interpret the “audible effects” provision such that staff will consider the presence of metallic powder less than 100 mesh in particle size within the burst (or break) charge of a fireworks device to mean the device is intended to produce an audible effect, consistent with the American Pyrotechnic Association Standard 87–1 definition.

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