Third party XRF testing could be used to screen products before chemical testing

Third party XRF testing could be used to screen products before chemical testing

A group representing US apparel and footwear retailers and importers has submitted a number of suggestions to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) on how to reduce regulatory burden without harming consumers, including exempting spandex from flammability testing standards.

Also among the proposals from the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) are clarifying fabric as a barrier for inaccessible parts, using preemption more aggressively to increase alignment among regulatory regimes, and allowing third party XRF testing to screen products before requiring chemical testing.

The comments were submitted at the request of the CPSC for ways the agency could reduce the burdens and costs of its existing rules, regulations and practices.

In a letter sent to CPSC secretary Todd Stevenson, the AAFA says that while fabrics made of six types of fibres have already been exempted from flammability testing requirements under the Flammable Fabrics Act (FFA), spandex and spandex-blend garments have not – even though they consistently pass flammability tests.

"Test after test shows that spandex is not flammable, either by itself or in combination with these other fibers," writes AAFA president and CEO Rick Helfenbein.

Another measure to reduce the burden on companies would be to update the definition of "inaccessible parts" to include fabric barriers. This "would lower testing costs in the apparel and footwear industry by eliminating testing requirements for certain components that will be covered by fabric once the article is made."

Faced with an increase in product safety regulations that not only differ drastically but often, in many cases, contradict each other, the AAFA would also like to see the CPSC work with local and state legislators and regulators to ensure all new regulations created are in sync with national regulations and that testing requirements flow from federal requirements to minimise testing costs.

It adds: "The use of preemption at the federal level could also prevent the addition of chemicals to state reporting and/or labelling requirements without sufficient scientific evidence indicating a danger to human health.

"These reporting and/or labeling requirements on more than 800 chemicals in various states puts companies in a position of choosing to pursue cost-prohibitive testing processes or potential violation of state chemical regulations, and, without sufficient scientific evidence to indicate a danger to human health, to no benefit to the consumer."

The final suggestion is to allow third party XRF (X-ray fluorescence) testing to screen products before requiring further chemical testing.

"By allowing a third-party lab to accept XRF results for lead under 40ppm the CPSC could drastically reduce the cost of third party testing by reducing the need for further wet chemistry testing while still maintaining the high degree of assurance of compliance."