The purpose of the PPPA is to protect children under 5 from poisonings and deaths that can occur when children open containers of hazardous products and access the contents.
The rules that tell you what a child-resistant package is and what products require such packaging are published in the Code of Federal Regulations in Title 16, Part 1700. Because the Commission may add new rules from time to time, we recommend that you check periodically for new or revised rules in the Code of Federal Regulations. Instructions for accessing the regulations on the Commisison’s website or obtaining copies appear at the end of this document.
The PPPA allows the Commission to set rules requiring child-resistant packaging for specific types of products customarily used in or around the household if the Commission determines:
To date, the Commission has issued rules that require child-resistant packaging for the following types of household products:
Each of these regulations covers the amount of the product contained in the immediate package of a single retail sale unit. Please refer to the regulation for each specific product to learn more about exemptions and other limitations and requirements. If you have a question about whether a product offered for sale requires child-resistant packaging, the label of the product should contain information about ingredients that will help you.
What is a child-resistant package?
A child-resistant package is one that is designed or constructed to be significantly difficult for children under 5 to open or obtain a harmful amount of the contents within a reasonable time. In addition, the package must not be difficult for normal adults to use properly.
For a package to be child resistant, a total of 80 percent of the children tested according to the procedure summarized below must not open the package during a full 10 minutes of testing. Please check below for more information about the level of child resistance required during the first 5 minutes of testing.
To make sure that adults are able to use a child-resistant package properly, 90 percent of adults tested have up to 5 minutes, and then another minute in a second test, to open and close the package so that it is child resistant again.
How do you test a package to make sure it is child resistant?
Before starting a test, you should review the test protocol carefully to make sure that you comply with all of the testing requirements. If you choose not to test a package yourself, we recommend that you find a qualified child-testing laboratory in the United States to perform the test. A list of test firms known to CPSC staff is available from the Office of Compliance.
The test uses at least one, and up to four, test panels of 50 children between the ages of 42 and 51 months to test child-resistant packages. Each panel is divided into three groups–30 percent of the children will be of age 42 through 44 months old; 40 percent of the children will be of age 45 through 48 months old; and 30 percent of the children will be of age 49 through 51 months old. Approximately one-half of the children in each group must be boys. The test procedure allows a 10 percent variation in the number of boys and girls in each group.
Each child in the test panel must have no illness, injury, or disability that would interfere with the child’s ability to test the package. No child may test more than two packages. If a child tests two packages, the packages cannot have the same design. This keeps the child from learning how to open the package.
Two children at a time participate in the test in a well-lighted room that is familiar to them and is free from distractions. The tester gives each child an empty child-resistant package and asks the children to try to open it. Each child has 5 minutes to try to do this.
If a child opens the package, he or she is not tested further and that child’s test is counted as a failure of the package to be child resistant. The tester shows any child who does not open the package in the first 5 minutes how to do so and also tells any child who has not tried to use his or her teeth to try to open the package that it is all right to do so. The child then has 5 more minutes to try to open the package. Any child who succeeds in opening the package in the second 5 minutes is also counted as a failure of the package.
For a package to pass, at least 85 percent of the children tested must be unable to open the package before the children receive the demonstration of how the package works and 80 percent after the demonstration. For the first 50-child test panel, if five or fewer children open the package, the package passes. If 15 or more children open the package, the package fails. In either case, no further testing is necessary. If six through 14 children in the first panel open the package, a second test panel of 50-child need to be tested. Depending upon the results of that test, the package may pass, fail, or require more testing. Please refer to the regulation for more detail. Testing stops after a fourth panel of children, if the test goes that far.
How do you test adults?
The test uses a panel of 100 senior adults divided into three groups: 25 adults ages 50 to 54 years old; 25 adults ages 55 to 59 years old; and 50 adults ages 60 to 70 years old. Seventy percent of the participants, ages 50 to 59 and 60 to 70, must be females. The test uses senior adults because they are the group most likely to have trouble using child-resistant packaging. Thus, if senior adults are able to open and properly close a package, younger adults should have little difficulty. Each adult tested must have no obvious, overt mental or physical disability.
The adults are tested one at a time. Each adult is given a package with the printed instructions that are on the package or that will accompany the package when it is sold to consumers. Each adult has up to 5 minutes to open the package, and if the package is reclosable, to close the package properly. Each adult who is successful has 1 minute to open and close the same package again properly. This ensures that the package will be easy to open during continued use after the adults have first learned how to open the package. Adults who are not able to open the child-resistant package in the first 5-minute test are screened to see if they can open and close two regular packages in 1 minute that are not child resistant. If they cannot, their results are not counted in the child-resistant package test because they have difficulty in using all packages, not just child-resistant packages.
For a package to pass the adult test, 90 percent of the adults tested must be able to open and properly close the package during both a 5-minute and a subsequent 1- minute test. The regulation also contains a test for aerosol products and metal cans that specifies using younger adults ages 18 to 45 years old, instead of senior adults. Please refer to the regulation for more detail on that test.
Are there any exceptions in the law for people with disabilities who have trouble using child-resistant packaging?
Yes. Except for prescription drugs, a manufacturer may package one size of a regulated product in regular packaging that is not child resistant. To take advantage of this option, the manufacturer must provide the product in other popular sizes that are child-resistant and must label the regular package with the statement: “This package for households without young children.” or, for small packages: “Package not child resistant.” Please refer to the regulation for more information about the size and location of these statements on the labels of products.
For prescription drugs, the purchaser may request a pharmacist to package a prescription in a regular package, or the physician, dentist, or other person who writes the prescription may specify in the prescription that the drug can be dispensed in regular packaging.
Do the testing and certification requirements of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) apply to child-resistant packaging?
Child-resistant packaging is not intended for children and therefore, child-resistant packaging does not require third party testing under the CPSIA. However, certificates of compliance are required. If any drug or household substance for children or adults is required by a CPSC regulation to be in child-resistant packaging, the importer or the domestic party that packages the product must issue a certificate of conformity with the special packaging requirements of the PPPA. For additional information CPSIA certification requirements, see CPSC's Testing and Certification page.
Where can I find additional information?
You can obtain the regulations issued under the Poison Prevention Packaging Act, 16 C.F.R. Part 1700 on http://www.ecfr.gov.
For more information on the requirements for child-resistant packaging, contact the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission:
•Office of Compliance (for specific enforcement inquires): e-mail: email@example.com; telephone: (301) 504-7586.
•Small Business Ombudsman (for general assistance understanding and complying with CPSC regulations): e-mail: Please use our Contact Form, which is the best way to get a fast response; telephone: (888) 531-9070.
This document is a general summary of the child-resistant packaging standards and does not replace the requirements published in 16 C.F.R. Part 1700. This summary does not include all of the details included in those requirements, particularly those involved in conducting tests on packages for child resistance. For those details, please refer to the regulation, or contact the Office of Compliance.