More than three years after the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA) was introduced, US President Barack Obama has signed an amendment that provides a number of changes to testing requirements for children's and consumer products.

The CPSIA reform bill HR 2715 - also called the Enhancing CPSC Authority and Discretion Act of 2011 (ECADA) - was signed into law on Friday (12 August).

In particular it fixes the CPSIA's lead-testing requirements to products made since the date of enactment, which would have made it impossible to sell merchandise that was already on the shelves. It also removes lead limits for used children's products, and addresses the database of consumer product safety incidents.

Among the modifications to existing provisions under the CPSIA are:

  • Only children's products manufactured after 14 August 2011 need to comply with the reduced 100 parts per million (ppm) limits on lead content. The old legislation would have required the lower lead content limit to apply to any children's products in the marketplace, regardless of date of manufacture. There is still a stay of enforcement on the CPSIA's testing requirements until 31 December this year.
  • Inclusion of a 'functional purpose' exemption for lead in certain children's products and components if it is not practicable or technologically feasible to make that item without lead.
  • Total or partial exemptions for lead in certain used children's products, such as those sold by charities, although items like children's metal jewellery or those deemed to pose a risk to children's health would be excluded.
  • The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) must look at ways to grant limited relief from third-party testing requirements for compliance with lead limits, and may prescribe new or revised third party testing regulations within a year.
  • Exclusion of inaccessible parts from phthalates limits.
  • Ability for the CPSC to grant exclusions for certain products from the tracking label mandate, which was designed to help consumers identify whether a children's product is within the scope of a recall.
  • Changes to the CPSC Public Database mechanics, including a wait of 15 business days before posting a consumer's report to the Database. This extra time is intended to allow CPSC to investigate the facts and prevent inaccurate reports from being published. It is also required to attempt to get a model number, serial number or photograph of a product for which a report of harm is filed with the Database.