Phasing Out: The CPSIA’s Widening Phthalate Prohibition

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) has and will continue to impose stricter measures against the use of phthalates in plastic consumer products. At the moment, the act prohibits eight different types of phthalates in children’s toys and child care products.

The increased restriction measures are based on new research, which has found that low-molecular weight phthalates can be released into the atmosphere too easily from their host item. When coming in direct contact with children’s bodies, either by touching, mouthing or respiration, phthalates have the ability to cause developmental disorders, including endocrine disruption and asthma.

As of April 25, 2018, the CPSIA has officially raised the prohibition to eight phthalates which cannot exceed a concentration of 0.1%:

  • di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP)
  • dibutyl phthalate (DBP)
  • benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP)
  • diisononyl phthalate (DINP)
  • diisobutyl phthalate (DIBP)
  • di-n-pentyl phthalate (DPENP)
  • di-n-hexyl phthalate (DHEXP)
  • dicyclohexyl phthalate (DCHP)

Which Children’s Products Fall Under This Regulation?

Children’s Toys — The CPSIA specifically cites children’s toys as "consumer product designed or intended by the manufacturer for a child 12 years of age or younger for use by the child when the child plays," using ASTM F963’s criteria for classifying toys as a critical guideline.

Child Care Articles — “Designed or intended by the manufacturer for a child age 3 years old or younger to facilitate sleeping or feeding or to help the child in sucking or teething.” Items such as children’s sleepwear, baby bottles and cups, pacifiers and teethers are examples of child care articles subject to the phthalate restriction.

What Are the Applicable Testing Requirements?

As part of your Children’s Product Certification (CPC) requirements, CPSC-accredited, Third-Party lab testing must be performed and documented on all of the product’s “accessible component parts” -- against 16 CFR 1109 “Component Part Testing for Phthalates in Children’s Toys and Child Care Articles”.


Component parts considered inaccessible to direct contact by children through foreseeable use and abuse, including mouthing, swallowing, breaking, reasonable children’s activity and product aging, are excluded from the phthalate prohibition. 16 CFR 1199 establishes criteria for determining “inaccessible parts” in children’s toys.

There are also incidences when Third-Party testing is not required for the product based on the substance of the material. Toy components made from untreated wood, metal, natural fabrics and latex do not require testing; and there are seven types of commonly used plastics which do not use phthalate softeners and thus have been excused from required testing:

  • polypropylene (PP)
  • polyethylene (PE)
  • high-impact polystyrene (HIPS)
  • acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS)
  • general-purpose polystyrene (GPPS)
  • medium-impact polystyrene (MIPS)
  • super-high-impact polystyrene (SHIPS)

Compliance Testing Responsibility

Although the CPSIA allows supply chain testing results to count towards product compliance when documentation and results of applicable testing procedures are provided, the certainty of toy quality and safety ultimately falls into your hands as a manufacturer or importer.

Without establishing your own testing strategy from the start, it is impossible to truly know if your end product is actually phthalate-free... until it is too late.

QIMA's Lab Testing and Inspection Services can assist you in eliminating any possibility of either a false positive test or unintended phthalate contamination caused by the use of recycled plastics in your supply chain, residue from unclean manufacturing equipment, or even traces of a prohibited phthalate discovered in alternative plasticizers.

New Safety Science and Phthalates Alternatives

As long as PVC products continue to thrive in our developing global economy, so too will the demand for plasticizers. The CPSC’s Chronic Hazard Advisory Panel (CHAP) has brought a lot of attention to the mounting evidence of the harmful effects of phthalate exposure as well as the growing worldwide interest in safer alternatives.

With every new phthalate restriction comes an opportunity for innovation. QIMA understands that your company’s values mirror these changes, and can assist you in bringing your vision of higher safety standards to the market, into consumer’s homes, and into a child’s hands.

Easily Schedule Your CPSIA Compliance Tests Online

Our online platform and mobile application make it easy for you to schedule CPSIA Compliance tests and receive your results at any time. Book new tests, view pending orders, and access results from your mobile device. Our online platform provides valuable supply chain insights, including a summary of your QC activity, all of your supplier’s quality stats, industry benchmarking data, and more.

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