CPSIA Impacts on Children's Apparel Industry

Petition to the Consumer Products Safety Commission Who should read this 1.If you are a small or home-based business that manufactures apparel or other textile products for children under 12 years of age, this legislation impacts you, or 2. Whether you sell your products wholesale or directly to the consumer through eBay, Etsy, or your own web site, this legislation impacts you. If either of these describes you, your business is at stake. Please join us in making our voices heard. Our Comments To the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC): We are small manufacturers of children’s apparel and textile products throughout the United States who are petitioning the CPSC to express our concerns regarding the lead and lead in paint standards as mandated by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). We want to first emphasize that many of us are parents ourselves and care as much about the safety of our children as anyone. We welcome measures that will help to ensure greater child safety with regard to lead. However, such measures are only effective if they target the real risks. Lead in apparel and other textile products pose little risk to children. It is important for the CPSC to recognize that the majority of the materials used to manufacture apparel and other textile products are inherently lead-free. While trace elements may be found in some dyes, those amounts are well below the regulatory limits. Even if trace materials existed in the materials used to produce the textiles, very little would remain on finished fabrics because of the low application levels and the washing that occurs during processing. Without prudent regulation from the CPSC, the CPSIA will result in unintended and devastating consequences to manufacturers of children’s products that pose little to no risk of lead exposure to children. The costs of unnecessary testing and its impact on our businesses Requiring expensive tests on inherently lead-free products to verify that they, in fact, don’t contain lead will only add financial burdens to small manufacturers – most of whom are already suffering from the current economic climate – while providing no improvement in consumer or product safety. We recognize that some types of children’s apparel contain components that may contain lead. However, metal, painted plastic, and vinyl components in children’s apparel are adequately regulated under the requirements for third party testing for lead in paint. The CPSC has the authority to exclude components and classes of products from the lead ban. Accordingly, we urge the CPSC to issue guidance that makes clear that textiles and apparel are only subject to the lead and lead in paint requirements to the extent that a component presents a risk that it contains lead. The cost of digestive testing for lead ranges from $130 to $180 per test. For example, a garment with two metal component parts, such as a zipper and snaps, would have to test each component separately at a cost of $360. Previously, a small manufacturer might have spread these costs out over several styles by using the same zippers and snaps in each style. Let’s assume a manufacturer produces 10 styles. Now, with new regulations that require testing of each component part after it is removed from a sample garment, one of each style, the costs of testing increase dramatically to $3,600. This cost multiplies exponentially if we are now required to test fabrics and threads for lead, or if different dyes also trigger their own lead tests. Any small manufacturer that can survive these costs – and there aren’t many that can – will have to pass them on to their customers. So, consumers end up on the losing end, too. We urge the CPSC to exempt lead testing for those components and articles that are inherently lead-free and require testing for only those components that may contain lead. What happens to us WILL effect the U.S. Economy Based on U.S. Census data, the Cut and Sew Apparel Manufacturing industry, which includes most categories of small manufacturers of infant’s and children’s apparel, is comprised of more than 40,000 companies. Of these, almost 28,000, or 68%, are sole proprietors contributing a total of $900 million to our nation’s economy. Thus, while our businesses are small, they comprise well more than the majority of the apparel manufacturing businesses currently operating in this country. In addition to small manufacturers who work with apparel industry contractors, consider the numerous home-based businesses that produce children’s apparel and sell directly to the consumer. These businesses are best characterized as “micro-manufacturers” who commonly produce custom and one-of-a-kind garments or several styles but in very small quantities. For these businesses to test for lead in every component of each and every style at a cost of $180 per test would increase the costs to produce a garment astronomically, resulting in a price far exceeding what the market will bear. Every small manufacturer of children’s apparel shares the goal of the CPSC – ensuring that only safe products are permitted to reach the consumer. We believe this is best achieved by implementing and enforcing the CPSIA in a manner that focuses on risks. While we believe there are some components in textile and apparel products that may fall under the lead standards, we believe the vast majority of products and components are inherently lead-free and should thus be excluded from the standards. We urge the CPSC to issue guidance that makes clear that textiles and apparel are only subject to the lead and lead in paint requirements to the extent that a component presents a risk that it contains lead.

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We are a professional organization of small and independent apparel designers and manufacturers who are working to ensure that the new Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) does not have broad and unintended and negative consequences to our businesses and the American consumer.

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