NCHR Comment on “Statement of Policy: Testing of Component Parts With Respect to Section 108 of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act”

Office of the Secretary
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
Room 502
4330 East-West Highway
Bethesda, Maryland 20814

Comments of Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union of U.S., Inc., Kids In Danger, the National Research Center for Women & Families, and U.S. PIRG
“Statement of Policy: Testing of Component Parts With Respect to Section 108 of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act”
[CPSC Docket Number: CPSC-2009-0063]

Our groups, representing patient, consumer, science and public health interests, submit the following comments in response to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s  (“CPSC”) “Statement of Policy:  Testing of Component Parts With Respect to section 108 of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act.”[1]

Section 108 of the CPSIA prohibits the sale of children’s toys and products containing six phthalates (BBP, DBP and DEHP permanently, and DIDP, DINP and DnOP on a provisional basis).  The purpose of section 108 is to reduce children’s exposure to phthalates.

Testing Components for Phthalates

Given that phthalate concentrations can be diluted in large toys, we agree with Commission staff that testing phthalate content as a percentage of the entire toy or child care article is less effective than testing materials and component parts that may contain phthalates.

Not all plastic products contain phthalates and we find your examples of “materials that ­may contain phthalates” and the examples of “materials that do not normally contain phthalates and, therefore, might not require testing or certification” useful.  However, we suggest that the Commission clarify that the examples given are merely examples and are not intended to represent an exhaustive or complete list of potential products or components that may contain phthalates.  In addition, we suggest that the Commission periodically update this list of examples.

We agree with the Commission that phthalate limits in section 108 of the CPSIA apply to each component part of any article, and are pleased that the Commission has developed a method to test component parts for phthalates.

New Test Method

Scientists from the National Research and Testing Center at Consumers Union, the non-profit publisher of Consumer Reports®, have reviewed the new test method (CPSC-CH-C1001-09.2-Standard Operating Procedure for Determination of Phthalates) and found the new method to be better and more reliable than the CPSC’s previous leaching method test.  The new method is similar to the one used by Health Canada and the state of California for the determination of phthalates in PVC children’s toys.  However, missing from the CPSC’s new testing measure is a description of the limit of detection (LOD) and limit of quantitation (LOQ).  Typically, LOQ should be orders of magnitude lower than the enforcement level.  For example, the Health Canada method has a lowest LOQ of 14 ppm (about 0.001%) for dibutyl phthalate (DBP).  Further, on the last page of the new test method description, there appears to be an error in the DEHP calculation.  Under column C, measured DEHP concentration by GC-MSW is 200 ug/ml.  In the final calculation column, 200 ug/ml is mistakenly cited as 20 ug/ml.

For the reasons cited above, we consider component parts testing a common sense approach that will protect children from exposure to phthalates, and reduce testing costs for manufacturers.  We also support the new testing method.  We look forward to continuing to work with the CSPC staff on implementation of this statute in a manner that continues to make protecting children’s health and safety a top priority.

Respectfully submitted,

Rachel Weintraub,
Director of Product Safety & Senior Counsel
Consumer Federation of America

Donald L. Mays,
Senior Director, Product Safety and Technical Policy
Consumers Union

Nancy A. Cowles,
Executive Director
Kids In Danger

Diana Zuckerman,
National Research Center for Women & Families

Elizabeth Hitchcock,
Community Health Advocate
U.S. PIRG (U.S. Public Interest Research Group)

[1] “Notice of Availability of a Statement of Policy: Testing of Components Parts With Respect to Section 108 of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act,” 74 Fed. Reg. 41400 (August 17, 2009).