Manufacturers selling apparel and textiles in the United States have to comply with the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), which became law in 2008, imposing chemical testing requirements for textiles.
The introduction of CPSIA set new acceptable levels of chemicals and potentially harmful substances in a wide range of products, including garments, apparel, and footwear, especially for children’s clothing.
The impact of the CPSIA Act on textile manufacturers has been far-reaching, requiring strict compliance and adherence to textile testing standards along with increases in fines up to US$15 million and jail time (up to 5 years) for some violations.
1. Testing Products for LeadLead is heavily restricted by CPSIA in all products, including clothing and apparel manufactured for children aged under 12 years old. If you produce any products that may contain lead, they must be tested to ensure the concentration of lead in paint or any similar surface coatings does not exceed 90 parts per million (ppm).
2. Testing for Other Toxic ChemicalsApart from testing for lead in apparel, you may be required to carry out a range of other tests on your products to identify toxic chemicals required in order to qualify for CPSIA certification, either for children’s clothing or for adult garments for general use. Below are the chemicals commonly tested for in apparel, garments, and textiles intended for sale in the U.S.
3. Test for Phthalates
Phthalates are toxic chemicals which can be used in textile and apparel manufacturing as plasticizers. The concentration of phthalates in any one apparel item should not exceed 0.1 percent. The phthalates currently restricted by CPSIA are the following:
Phthalates Exemptions for Certain Apparel
There are exemptions and exceptions that apply to apparel, including the following:
If you manufacture or import apparel clothing with vinyl plastic film, you must certify that the product complies with flammability requirements.
The chemical testing standards used depend on the construction of the garment. Testing standard 16 CFR part 1610 is used for general wearing apparel. Testing standard 16 CFR part 1611 is used for vinyl plastic film. Garments with individual components may have to be tested with both flammability standards.
Testing for Brominated and Chlorinated Flame Retardants
Brominated and chlorinated flame retardants (BFRs) are chemicals that inhibit combustion (flame retardants). They are often used in the manufacture of plastics and textile applications such as electronics, clothes and furniture.
CPSIA insists that all clothing must comply with the Standard for the Flammability of Clothing Textiles (16 CFR part 1610). Manufacturers and importers must certify general-use apparel for adults as compliant in a General Certificate of Conformity (GCC). Apparel for children under 12 years old must have a Children’s Product Certificate (CPC).
Some brominated flame retardants have been identified as persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic to humans and the environment, suspected of causing neurobehavioral effects and endocrine disruption.
Testing Apparel for Azo Dyes
Azo dyes or azo colourants are nitrogen-based dyes used in the manufacture of textiles and garments that produce toxic chemicals known as aromatic amines. Here is a list of azo dyes known to be toxic and therefore restricted by regulatory bodies such as CPSIA.
Testing for Organotin Compounds
Organotin compounds are tin-based chemical agents that are occasionally used in the manufacture of some types of apparel and footwear with silicone-based finishes.
Organotin compounds include:
Their properties include water repellency, and they can be used as biocides or preservatives in textiles. As organotin compounds are highly toxic, their concentration in most products is limited to 1 ppm for apparel and other products for adults, and 0.5 ppm in children’s clothing and childcare products.
Testing for Chlorobenzenes (Chlorinated Benzenes)
Chlorobenzenes can be used as dyeing carriers for colouring fibers, yarns and fabrics. Some chlorobenzenes are toxic by inhalation or skin contact as well as being harmful to the environment, so their use is restricted in the production of apparel, footwear and accessories.
Chemical testing for all materials should detect no more than 1 ppm (0.0001%) of each chlorobenzene in each item.
Testing for Chlorinated (Halogenated) Solvents
Certain halogenated solvents can be used in textile processing as a scouring solvent or carrier solvent for preparations and functional finishes. These restricted chlorinated solvents include:
Chlorinated solvents are restricted in textiles and clothing because long-term exposure to these chemicals above certain levels may cause particular cancers. They can also cause serious damage to human health through inhalation of high dosages.
CPSIA legislation requires that every manufacturer of a product subject to a consumer product safety rule has to provide a 'General Conformity Certificate’ (GCC) to verify that proper chemical testing has been carried out by a qualified testing laboratory to confirm that the product complies with all safety rules.
What are General Conformity Certificates?
There are two types of General Certificates of Conformity (GCC) which manufacturers must supply along with imported products that require testing; one for general-use products and one for children’s products. The latter specifies clothing and apparel for children aged under 12 years old.
The GCC accompanies the product or product shipment so it can be made available to each distributor or retailer as well as to the CPSC or U.S. Customs upon request. The GCC can be an actual hard copy or an electronic copy.
What Details are on a GCC?
The GCC certifies that products requiring testing have been tested with a reasonable testing program and comply with applicable rules. A GCC comprises the following elements:
The Care Labeling Rule
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) enforces the Care Labeling Rule, which stipulates that manufacturers and importers must attach labels to clothing and apparel detailing how the garment should be cared for, including: washing, dry-cleaning, ironing and bleaching instructions; as well as any warnings about treatment that could harm the product.
You can use the care symbols in place of words from the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), referred to as ASTM Standard D5489-96c. These symbols are the same as those designated by the International Standards Organization – ISO Standard 3758:2005(E) – and used in many European countries.
Up to five types of washing instructions can be used on labels. They are the following:
1. Washing by hand or machine
The label must say whether the product should be washed by hand or machine, and give a water temperature setting if regular use of hot water will harm the product.
Labels do not have to mention bleaches unless a particular type of bleach such as chlorine bleach will harm the product. If both chlorine and non-chlorine bleaches will harm the product, then, the label must say, "No bleach" or "Do not bleach".
The label must say whether the product should be dried by machine or another method. Unless regular use of high temperatures will harm the product when machine dried, it’s not necessary to indicate a temperature setting.
Only products requiring repeated ironing need ironing information with a temperature setting on the care label.
Warnings are only necessary if normal care procedures will damage the product. For example, if ironing will harm the product or if an item is not color-fast then warnings like "Do not iron" or "Wash separately" must be on the label.
Dry Cleaning Instructions
Warnings such as "Dry Clean Only" must only be used if the garment cannot be washed, in which case, you must provide evidence that normal washing will damage the garment.
For any warning on the label, you must have evidence that the process warned against will damage the garment.
Garments may be labeled "Dry Clean Only". However, if any part of the dry cleaning process would harm the product, such as steaming, then the "Dry Clean" instructions on the label must include a warning to avoid or modify that part of the dry cleaning process.
Apparel Exempt from the Care Labeling Rule
The following types of garments are exempt from the Care Labeling Rule:
What About CPSIA Violations?
You could face hefty fines if you fail to provide reliable care instructions and warnings for the useful life of an item, according to the FTC Act, which stipulates fines of up to US$16,000 for each offense. That is, each mislabeled garment is a violation. Since 1990, the FTC has reportedly brought 16 enforcement actions; 15 were resolved by settlements and one was litigated. Penalties have ranged as high as $300,000.
Mandatory Reporting Requirement
As a manufacturer, you have a legal obligation under Section 15 of the Consumer Product Safety Act to report to the Commission if and when you discover that a product fails to comply with any requirement enforced by the Commission; contains a defect that could pose a hazard to consumers; or creates an unreasonable risk of injury or death.
Determine Your Product Requirements to Quality
Our quality control experts will help you determine which tests are required for your products to qualify to meet CPSIA regulations, saving you time and money, so you don’t carry out unnecessary testing.
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