CPSC Issues Final Interpretive Rule Defining 'Children's Product' – Well, Sort of...


On October 14, 2010, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued its final interpretive rule defining the term "children's product" pursuant to the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA). Although the CPSIA made sweeping changes to the way all consumer products are regulated (overview of changes), the most stringent new requirements apply to "children's products," which include lower lead content limits, phthalate ban, product testing by CPSC certified independent laboratories, certification by importers and domestic manufacturers based upon strict testing procedures and tracking labels. Thus, the proper classification of a product – "children's product" or "general use product" – is crucial, and CPSC has received scores of requests for clarification about what is and is not a "children's product" since the statute was enacted on August 14, 2008.

The final interpretive rule was narrowly adopted by the commission along party lines (3 to 2) and remains controversial. As a practical matter, it does not provide bright-line guidance but does emphasize that a determination must be made on a case-by-case basis, applying the statutory definition. The final interpretive rule further provides a number of examples, which may be of help but there is no short cut to a case-by-case approach.

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