CPSIA and Its Implications for Binderies

by: Staff

Recently, a conversation on the BIA listserv revolved around the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), lead and phthalate testing, and its applicability to binders. The responses indicated that not all binderies are clear as to the testing requirements and the manner in which the requirements will affect their business. Lead and phthalate testing and certification requirements were due to become mandatory on Feb. 10, 2010; however, after a petition was submitted by Printing Industries of America, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) granted an additional one-year stay to Feb. 10, 2011. Even though the one-year stay was granted for testing and certification, the core requirements of not selling a product that exceeds the lead and/or phthalate limits remain in effect. In addition, the stay does not impact any painted product such as coil for a coil-bound book.

At this time, it would be wise for binderies to prepare to meet the testing and certification requirements of the act.

What is CPSIA?

In August 2008, the U.S. Congress established safety standards for children’s products under the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. The act establishes several key requirements regarding the safety of children’s products, including limits for lead and phthalates, a requirement that manufacturers and importers test and certify that their products meet the limits using accredited third party labs, and imposes tracking labels for products.

The current lead limit for non-painted products is 300 parts per million (ppm). The limit for paint is 90 ppm. The phthalate limits are 0.1 percent di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), dibutyl phthalate (DBP), or benzyl buty phthalate (BBP) and an interim prohibition on children’s toys that can be placed in a child’s mouth or child care articles containing more than 0.1 percent diisononyl phthalate (DINP), diisodecyl phthalate (DIDP), or di-n-octyl phthalate (DnOP).

As of August 14, 2009, tracking labels or “permanent markings” on children’s products are now required to facilitate recalls. The label or permanent mark must contain core information or at least provide enough information (such as company name and address) that would allow a consumer to “ascertain” the core information. The core information is the identification of the manufacturer, date of manufacturing, location of manufacturing, and cohort information such as batch or lot number.

As can be imagined, the publishing industry reacted strongly to the CPSIA and questions are still arising as to its implications for printers and binderies. The full text of the CPSIA can be found at http://www.cpsc.gov/cpsia.pdf.

Are Any Products Exempt from Testing?

As noted, the testing requirements were granted an additional one-year stay and are now taking effect in February 2011. Binders need to be aware of their responsibility in regard to compliance for the individual components that are used to make a children’s printed product (e.g., paper, inks, binding components).

On Aug. 26, 2009, the CPSC acted on a petition by the Printing Industries of America, granting a permanent exemption from testing and certification for the following items:

  • Paper
  • Any product printed with four-color process inks (CMYK)
  • Any product coated with varnish, water-based, or UV-cured coatings
  • Threads used for book binding
  • Animal-based glues
  • Adhesives that are not accessible
  • Binding materials that are not accessible

The items that have not received an exemption are as follows:

  • Spot or PMS inks
  • Saddlestitching wire
  • Non-animal-based glues that are accessible
  • Metal coils, both coated and uncoated, for coil bound materials
  • Plastic coils for coil bound materials
  • Foils used in foil stamping
  • Laminates

Since many of the materials that have not received an exemption are critical components of books and other printed matter, any product that contains a non-exempt component will have to be tested and a certificate issued for the product. Work continues with the CPSC to gain an exemption for the products that are not currently exempt.

How Does CPSIA Affect Children’s Books?

In the Frequently Asked Questions section of the CPSC website, the following question was posed:

Does the new requirement for total lead on children’s products apply to children’s books, cassettes and CD’s, printed game boards, posters, and other printed goods used for children’s education?

In general, yes. CPSIA defines children’s products as those products intended primarily for use by children 12 and under. Accordingly, these products would be subject to the lead limit for paint and surface coatings at 16 CFR part 1303 (and the 90 ppm lead paint limit effective Aug. 14, 2009) as well as the new lead limits for children’s products containing lead (600 ppm lead limit effective Feb. 10, 2009, and 300 ppm lead limit effective Aug. 14, 2009). If the children’s products use printing inks or materials which actually become a part of the substrate, such as the pigment in a plastic article, or those materials which are actually bonded to the substrate, such as by electroplating or ceramic glazing, they would be excluded from the lead paint limit. However, these products are still considered to be lead-containing products irrespective of whether such products are excluded from the lead paint limit and are subject to the lead limits for children’s products containing lead. For lead-containing children’s products, CPSIA specifically provides that paint, coatings, or electroplating may not be considered a barrier that would render lead in the substrate inaccessible to a child.

What are Coil Manufacturers Doing to Meet CPSIA Requirements?

Anna Massey, sales and marketing manager for Gateway Bookbinding Systems, Ltd., explained the process the company went through to confirm that its PLASTIKOIL binding is lead- and phthalate-free: “When the legislation was originally initiated, we immediately went to work with our base resin and colorant suppliers. We already knew that our PVC base compound was lead-free and phthalate-free, because it is actually a food-grade compound. However we still had our compound supplier confirm through accredited lab testing that the material was well within the To assist its binder partners, Gateway keeps all lab testing and accreditation on file and available upon request. All of its PLASTIKOIL coil and filament customers are provided Certificates of Conformity, offering assurance that Gateway’s products meet the CPSIA standards.”

Matt Roth, vice president for Spiral Binding Co./James Burn, explained that the certification process was relatively simple, albeit expensive. The company knew compliance would be critical to its customers since it was a wire-bound book that started the original lead scare in the United States. “Not only do we support the nation’s cause to make sure our children’s books are bound safely, we viewed this as an opportunity to distinguish ourselves and our bindery partners from those using low-priced imported wire that might not be CPSIA-compliant and lead- and phthalate-free,” he said. “With certification on file, our bindery partners can feel confident using our products in their operation and can prove to their customers that the binding elements they use in their books are safe.”

For links to additional CPSIA information, including The Printing Industries of America’s CPSIA Resource page, visit www.thebindingedge.com.

Additional Resources:
Due to the complexities and ever-changing interpretations of CPSIA, printers and binders should monitor the CPSC website for amendments to the Act at http://www.cpsc.gov/ABOUT/cpsia/cpsia.HTML#whatsnew.

The Printing Industries of America also has created a CPSIA Resource Page, which can be found at http://www.printing.org/page/4344.

To access the CPSIA Frequently Asked Questions section, visit http://www.cpsc.gov/about/cpsia/faq/101faq.html.

Additionally, the CPSC website contains a statement from the General Counsel Advisory regarding books and the CPSIA: http://www.cpsc.gov/library/foia/advisory/323.pdf

Thank you to Gary Jones, director of Environmental, Health & Safety Affairs, Printing Industries of America, for his valuable input.