This QIMA article provides an overview of the chemical testing required to ensure your textile products meet the standards described in the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008.
Consumers rely on suppliers of goods to ensure the products in the marketplace are safe. It’s a line of trust drawn from suppliers to manufacturers, to shippers, to retailers, and to the customers who bring those products into their homes. When it comes to textile products, that trust is built upon the knowledge that goods properly meet the safety requirements established by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act.
The CPSIA’s regulations have had a tremendous impact on the amount of testing necessary to ensure that goods meet these requirements, and penalties for not meeting these standards are heavy, including large fines and the possibility of jail time.
Below we outline some of the most important tests and procedures necessary to ensure CPSIA compliance for your textile products. Please note, this article is not intended to replace a trained CPSIA compliance expert, and we encourage you to contact QIMA to discuss whatever questions you have and how you can partner with our quality control agents to improve the efficiency of your testing procedures and the safety of your products.
This guide is based upon the latest information on federal regulations and standards. Product safety is a shared responsibility that depends upon communication with all affected parties and proper adherence to all laws, regulations, and best practice policies.
Congress created the CPSIA in response to a series of high-profile toy recalls. As a result, the CPSIA establishes the need for a Children’s Product Certificate (CPC) for products intended for children, including some textile and fabric goods.
The list of rules requiring third-party testing and a CPC is quite extensive and includes things like safety standards for children’s protective equipment (bicycle helmets and bedrails, for example), flammability of children’s sleepwear, toy safety, and lead content.
The CPC itself has another list of requirements for the information it must contain. These include product identification, citations to the specific rules to which the product has been certified, and third-party testing lab information. It’s vital that this paperwork is in order to ensure smooth product delivery and travel through ports.
While many of the other new provisions included in the CPSIA apply to products other than textiles, the law requires that any product subject to regulation by the Consumer Product Safety Commission not aimed at children earn a General Conformity Certificate (GCC).
The GCC must meet the following requirements:
Because there is no third-party testing requirement to obtain a GCC, the rule and standard section is generally labeled “N/A.” However, if products are tested voluntarily, then reporting complete lab and testing information is required.
Knowing which tests apply to your textile goods is an important element of securing a CPC or GCC and finding the right testing partners ensures that your goods reach the marketplace quickly and safely.
Proper product certification is dependent upon successful completion of the tests required for your specific goods. These tests are dependent upon the materials involved in the product’s manufacture, the product’s intended use, and the destination of the product.
The information below discusses some common tests you can expect to need for your textile and fabric goods.
While testing for lead may seem at first to be an odd concern for fabric products, zippers, buttons, and other embellishments included on apparel items must pass lead tests. The CPSIA sets strict rules for lead content if the apparel item is meant primarily for children under the age of 12. Items must have a lead content below 100 parts per million (ppm). Surface coating and paint must test below 90 ppm.
The ingestion or absorption through the skin of lead can have a number of negative consequences, and lead poisoning is particularly damaging to young children. Lead poisoning can result in physical and mental developmental delays in young people, and it can cause headaches, nausea, mood disorders, and reproductive difficulties in adults.
Although most apparel does not need to be tested for phthalates, textile products intended for infants—like sleepwear, bibs, or cloth toys that could end up in the mouth—must meet the same phthalate requirement as toys. The item must contain no more than 0.1% of eight different phthalates.
Phthalates are a group of chemicals found in hundreds of products, from toys to flooring, and cosmetics to detergents. Although the health risks associated with phthalates are not yet completely understood, doctors know that phthalates can leech into the human body from products containing the chemicals.
Fabrics and other textile goods may require additional chemical testing to ensure they remain in compliance with other agency regulations and certain state mandates. Your supply chain or quality control partner should be able to direct you to which tests your product needs in order to meet all governmental laws and regulations.
Because the CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) includes a provision that mandates all textiles covered by any consumer safety regulation meet testing standards in order to receive a Children’s Product Certificate (CPC) or General Conformity Certificate (GCC), fabrics and apparel still need to pass tests outlined in the Flammable Fabrics Act.
The FFA, first established in 1953, has since been expanded to include in its regulations apparel, interior furnishings, carpets, rugs, mattresses, and mattress pads.
The purpose of the FFA is to ensure to safety of consumers against the risk of open flame. Its testing protocols require garments and other textiles meet strict standards for reacting—and not reacting—to exposure to fire.
The intended user of the product can impact what sort of tests must be conducted, and what sort of results indicate a passing grade, making it vitally important that you secure the services of the appropriate safety partner.
A complicated web of laws and provisions dictate how textile products must be labeled before reaching consumers. These labels include information about materials and processes used in the products’ manufacture, how to care for fabric goods, and certain mandatory safety announcements. Label requirements may vary, too, based on individual states’ requirements.
Additionally, some textile items are exempt from some labeling requirements. Items like hats, gloves, belts, and suspenders avoid many of the labeling requirements, though may be subject to other tests associated with textile goods.
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, and avoiding unnecessary testing.
With accredited laboratories all over the world, we make it easy for you to get your products tested. Our team of experts also offers on-site inspections.
Let QIMA manage your testing protocol, ensuring quality, safe products that comply with applicable laws and regulations while keeping your customers happy.
QIMA is a leading provider of supply chain compliance solutions, that partners with brands, retailers and importers to secure and improve the quality of their global supply network.
QIMA combines on-the-ground experts in 85 countries for quality inspections, supplier audits, certification and lab testing, with a digital platform that brings accuracy, visibility and intelligence for quality and compliance data.
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