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The United States Senate and House of Representatives have passed a sweeping new statute, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008. The Act, which the president cannot veto and will come into effect in six months, slashes the permissible level of lead in children’s products to 100 ppm in three years and bans six widely used phthalates (plastic softeners). All imported children’s products must be tested and certified by accredited third party laboratories and must have permanent tracking labels. The voluntary standard ASTM F963-07 now becomes a mandatory safety standard for toys.

There will also be a searchable public database on the safety of consumer products, extensive consumer warnings, and much stiffer penalties for safety breaches. Aggressive enforcement has been promised, to make American toys at least as safe as those now on sale in Europe.

We can expect this initiative to be quickly copied in Canada, where our own Hazardous Products Act could definitely use upgrading. More information about contaminants in toys is available from healthytoys.org.

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