Consumer Product News & Services


Flammability Testing
Flammability Testing

By Crystal Johnson

Are your items required to undergo Flammability Testing? If your toy/item is designed for children under 14, then, yes, it is required to undergo flammability testing.

ASTM F963-08 contains the specification for toy flammability testing and states that "materials other than textiles (excluding paper) used in toys shall not be flammable." This is regulated under 16 CFR 1500.3 (c) (6) (vi) under the Federal Hazardous Substances ACT (FHSA). Currently the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) does not require certification for flammability testing; however, it will be required upon commission vote to lift the stay, which is scheduled to be lifted on 2/10/11. Some states have enacted their own legislation and a number of retailers are enforcing flammability testing, making this a requirement of manufacturers, importers, and distributors. ASTM F963-08 states that all children’s toys must meet flammability requirements, and any fabrics used in the manufacture of toys should comply with 16 CFR 1610 regulations. Flammability requirements also apply to the following areas which may affect your products:

  • Fabrics Exemptions are only for fabrics made entirely or in combinations of acrylic, modacrylic, nylon, olefin, polyester, or wool.
  • Children’s Sleepwear – this applies to children’s sleepwear which is regulated in 16 CFR 1615 and 1616.

In researching labs to test and certify your items, it is important to work with a lab that is accredited to perform flammability testing to ASTM F963-08. Additionally, you may want to ensure that they have the ability to test to European flammability requirements for toys, which is EN 71 Part 2.

Soluble Metals Analysis vs. Total Metals Content

What is soluble metals analysis versus analyzing for total metal content?

The Standard Consumer Safety Specification for Toy Safety, ASTM F963-08, became a mandatory consumer product safety standard on February 10, 2009. This standard, in conjunction with CPSIA § 101 and 16 CFR Part 1303 with regards to lead levels, places additional limits on the amount of lead, as well as antimony, arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, mercury and selenium, based on the soluble portion of that material using the prescribed extraction process. Toys manufactured after February 10, 2009, have to meet this requirement. Soluble metals analysis simulates a human digestion process to determine if any of the eight heavy metals could be absorbed by the body of a child if the item is swallowed. A dilute hydrochloric acid solution is used as an extractant, which is similar to stomach acid. This extracted solution is then analyzed on an ICP or by an equivalent analytical technique. This testing is important since young children do most of their exploring by way of their mouth. The problem is that heavy metals absorbed into the human body are not readily removed and can reach toxic proportions in repeated exposures.

Analyzing for total metals content is different in that the total concentration for each heavy metal element is determined, as opposed to just analyzing for the soluble content. As of August 14, 2009, the soluble limit for total lead in paint and coatings was reduced to 90 ppm in 16 CFR § 1303.1, which is the more stringent requirement than the total lead content. In other words, if the total lead concentration in a paint or coating is below 90 ppm, it will also be compliant for the soluble lead limit. Currently the CPSC has established a level of allowable total lead content in children’s products, however, there are other heavy metals without established and regulated limits by the CPSC that are becoming of growing concern. This is because some manufacturers are substituting other heavy metals in place of lead. Some of these heavy metals include antimony and cadmium in jewelry and metals items, while compounds of chromium, barium, arsenic, mercury, and selenium are still seen periodically in toys and children’s consumer goods. Just as ASTM F963-08 has established allowable limits with respect to the soluble metals analysis, it is speculated that limits will be established for “total content” with regards to some of the other heavy metals, especially those such as cadmium which has seen widespread attention and control limits set at state and local levels.

Until the federal government establishes such limits, it may be necessary to test for “total” content of these heavy metals, using the established limits set forth in ASTM F963-08 as a basis for allowable limits or to check with any retailers you may be distributing goods to. This strategy will also help in monitoring current manufacturing process with attention focused on future regulatory limits and establish reasonable testing protocols now.

As a CPSC accredited lab partner, we hope to be a part of your “reasonable testing program” to ensure full compliance and safety.

Compliance Commentary

The Consumer Product Safety Commission is issuing a proposed rule that would establish requirements for a reasonable testing program and for compliance and continuing testing for children’s products. The proposal would also address labeling of consumer products to show that the product complies with certification requirements under a reasonable testing program for non-children’s products or under compliance and continuing testing for children’s products. The proposed rule would implement section 14(a) and (d) of the Consumer Product Safety Act ("CPSA"’), as amended by section 102(b) of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 ("CPSIA").

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a final rule for CPSIA, Safety Standard for baby bath seats. The list of products in section 104 includes: full-size and non-full-size cribs; toddler beds; high chairs, booster chairs, and hook-on chairs; bath seats; gates and other enclosures for confining a child; play yards; stationary activity centers; infant carriers; strollers; walkers; swings; and bassinets and cradles. The Commission issued a Notice of Proposed Rule making (NPR) in 74 Federal Register 30983 dated September 3, 2009. The proposed rule (16 CFR part 1215) incorporated by reference the requirements for bath seats as outlined in the voluntary standard, ASTM F 1967-08a, "Standard Consumer Safety Specification for Infant Bath Seats," with certain changes to specific provisions in the voluntary standard in order to strengthen the proposed rule.

The updated analysis includes incident reports through November 2009, with five new fatalities and five new non-fatal incidents, all of which occurred in 2009. Three of the deaths and three of the additional non-fatal incidents involved bath seats that met the stability requirements of either F 1967-04 or F 1967-07. One death involved an earlier, pre-2004 bath seat product and the remaining death involved a combination infant bath tub-bath seat product that is no longer being produced. On September 3, 2009, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) published in the Federal Register (74 FR 45714) a proposal to revoke the regulations pertaining to baby-bouncers, walker-jumpers, baby-walkers, and similar products referenced in 16 CFR § 1500.18(a)(6) and § 1500.86(a)(4). Upon review of comments to the proposed rule, CPSC staff now recommends that the Commission issue a final rule for the revocation of the existing regulations pertaining to baby-walkers in 16 CFR § 1500.18(a)(6) and § 1500.86(a)(4) but that the regulations should continue to apply to baby-bouncers, walker-jumpers, and any other similar articles.

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