- Federal Lead in Paint Requirements
- International and State Level Requirements
- Total Lead Content
- Test Methods and Procedures
- Exceptions and Exemptions
Federal Lead in Paint Requirements
What are the federal requirements limiting lead in paint and similar surface coatings in children's products?
There are two distinct requirements concerning lead in children’s products – one deals with the levels of lead contained in the paint or other surface coating of a children’s product (discussed on this page), while the other requirement covers the total lead content of the children’s product.
Lead in Paint and Similar Surface Coatings
All children's products, and some furniture, for adults and children, must not contain a concentration of lead greater than 0.009 percent (90 parts per million) in paint or any similar surface coatings. Household paint must also meet this requirement. Paint or any similar surface coatings for consumer use exceeding 0.009 percent by weight of the total nonvolatile content of the paint (90 parts per million) and products specified in 16 CFR §1303.1 that bear such paint or coatings are banned hazardous products.
Total Lead Content
With a few limited exceptions explained below, all children's products must not contain more than 100 parts per million (ppm) of total lead content in accessible parts. Please see our webpage on total lead content for more in-depth information on this requirement.
Where can I find the law and regulation that limit lead in paint and similar surface coatings in children's products?
You can find the law in Section 101 of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA) (pdf) (Public Law No. 110-314), as modified by H.R. 2715 (Public Law No. 112-28, August 12, 2011) and CPSC’s regulation in 16 CFR Part 1303.
What is a paint or similar surface coating material?
These terms apply generally to liquid or semi-liquid products that change to a solid film when you apply a thin coating to wood, stone, metal, cloth, plastic, or a similar surface.
Printing inks, materials such as pigments for plastic that become part of an article itself, and materials such as ceramic glaze and electroplated coatings that become bonded to the surface of a product are NOT paints or similar surface coating materials. See 16 CFR §1303.2(b)(1) for more detail. Printing inks refer to inks used for printing on paper. Inks used to print on textiles are addressed in another question in this document.
Which products must meet this regulation?
The lead limit in paint and surface coatings applies to: (i) paint and other similar surface coatings; (ii) toys and other articles intended for use by children; and (iii) certain furniture articles.
Pieces of moveable furniture that contain a surface coating, such as beds, bookcases, chairs, chests, tables, dressers, and console televisions are covered by the regulation.
Appliances such as ranges, refrigerators, and washers, fixtures such as built-in cabinets, windows, and doors, and household products, such as window shades and venetian blinds, are NOT covered by the regulation.
In addition to those products that are sold directly to consumers, the lead in paint and surface coatings regulation applies to products that are used or enjoyed by consumers after sale, such as paints used in residences, schools, hospitals, parks, playgrounds, and public buildings or other areas where consumers will have direct access to the painted surface. Paints for boats and cars are not covered by the regulation.
What must I do to ensure that my product complies?
If you have a product subject to the regulation on lead in paint and similar surface coatings, you must be able to certify, in a written certificate of conformity, that your product does not contain levels of lead in excess of the 0.009 percent limit (90 parts per million). Your certificate of conformity must meet the following requirements:
Children's Products: Conduct third party testing on each children's product (primarily intended for children 12 or younger) from a CPSC-accepted laboratory. Based upon test results that confirm your product does not contain levels of lead in paint that violate the limit, you must issue a Children's Product Certificate. The correct citation to include in the CPC for this total lead content requirement is: 16 CFR Part 1303.
General Use Products (e.g., furniture that is not designed or intended primarily for children 12 or younger): You must test your general use product or institute a reasonable testing program before you can certify that your product does not contain levels of lead in paint that violate the limit. You must then issue a General Certificate of Conformity. (You may, but are not required to, conduct third party testing on each product at a CPSC-accepted laboratory.)
I cannot tell if the design on my product is considered a surface coating or part of the substrate. How do I determine whether my product is subject to third party testing for: (i) the limit in total lead content for the product's substrate, or (ii) the limit in lead in paint or other similar surface coatings?
While it is best to make the determination regarding whether the substance meets the definition of a "surface coating" before it is added or applied to the product, CPSC staff generally applies a "scraping test" to determine whether a substance on a product is a "surface coating," as defined by 16 CFR §1303.2, and subject to the regulation on lead in paint or other similar surface coatings.
In most cases, if a substance can be scraped off and separated from the underlying substrate of a product, such as paint on plastic substrate, it is treated as a surface coating that must comply with the 0.009 percent (90 parts per million) limit for lead in paint or any surface coating. Likewise, if a substance cannot be scraped from the substrate without also removing the substrate, such as colored plastic substrate, ordinary ink on paper, or fired-on decorations on glazed ceramic, it would be treated as part of the substrate that must comply with the lead content limit of 100 parts per million. A single product may have some components that bear a surface coating and are subject to the lead paint rule and have other accessible component parts, made of metal or plastic, subject to the lead content rule.
(Note: CPSC has approved separate test methods for lead in paint or other similar surface coatings and for the total lead content in a product's substrate materials. Please visit CPSC’s Test Method page for additional information on these test methods.)
International and State Level Requirements
If I have tested my product for its soluble lead content for compliance with Europe's requirements, do I also need to test for total lead content with the CPSC's requirements?
Yes. All testing of children’s products must be performed by a CPSC-accepted laboratory using the methods approved by the Commission. Other countries have requirements and testing methods that differ from those of the CPSC.
Do individual states have other regulatory requirements concerning the amount of permissible lead in consumer products?
Yes. Certain states, like Illinois and California, have other regulatory requirements concerning lead content. You should contact the Attorney General or Department of Health in each state directly for further guidance on specific state laws and requirements.
Because the lead in paint regulation in the United States is longstanding, can I assume that commercially available paint complies with the lead in paint limits?
No. If you are manufacturing a children's product, you must ensure that your finished product, or all of the painted components of your product, have been third party tested by a CPSC-accepted laboratory before you can certify that your product does not contain levels of lead in paint that violate the limit.
You may be able to rely upon a Component Part Certificate issued by a supplier, provided the supplier complies with the rule on Component Part or Finished Product Testing or Certification, 16 CFR Part 1109. A Safety Data Sheet (SDS) or similar document is not sufficient to certify compliance for a children's product.
If you are manufacturing a general use product, like non-children's furniture, then for purposes of preparing a General Certificate of Conformity (GCC) you must test the paint (in its dried state), test the finished product, and/or institute a reasonable testing program to ensure that your products do not contain levels of lead in the paint that violate the limit. Contacting a paint manufacturer and asking for written assurances that their paint does not contain lead and/or asking for their test reports may be one part of a reasonable testing program. Due care must be taken to ensure the compliance of the paint or the surface coating.
Please note: Non-Children’s products do not require testing for lead in paint and other surface coatings to be completed at a CPSC-Accepted Testing laboratory.
Test Methods and Procedures
Is X-ray fluorescence (XRF) testing approved for use by CPSC-accepted laboratories?
Currently, the applicable test methods for the regulation on lead in paint and other surface coatings are:
CPSC Standard Operating Procedure for Determining Lead (Pb) in Paint and Other Similar Surface Coatings, Test Method CPSC-CH-E1003-09.1 (pdf); and/or
ASTM F2853-10 "Standard Test Method for Determination of Lead in Paint Layers and Similar Coatings or in Substrates and Homogenous Materials by Energy Dispersive X-Ray Fluorescence Spectrometry Using Multiple Monochromatic Excitation Beams."
Is composite testing (or combining certain samples into one sample) allowed when testing for lead in paint and other surface coatings?
Yes, provided that certain conditions are met. See our additional FAQs on Composite Testing.
Is component part testing allowed for testing for lead in paint and other surface coatings?
Yes, but the component part testing must be conducted on the dried paint film that is scraped off of a surface to properly measure by weight. Consistent with the regulation, testing paint or similar surface coatings in their liquid form cannot provide a basis for properly issuing a Component Part Certificate. See our additional FAQs on FAQs on Component Part Testing.
Must the dried paint film be scraped off of samples of the actual product?
No, the paint does not need to be scraped off of a sample of the finished product. The paint may be applied to any suitable substrate in order to dry, and the substrate used need not be of the same material as in the finished product. For testing purposes, a larger quantity of paint may need to be tested than the quantity actually used on the finished product.
Are small areas exempt from lead in paint testing?
No. Small, painted areas are not exempt from the applicable lead limits.
Exceptions and Exemptions
Is electroplating considered paint or a similar surface coating?
No. Electroplating is specifically addressed in the definition section of the lead in paint regulation (16 CFR Part 1303), and it is not considered to be a surface coating for purposes of the rule.
Are any products exempt from the lead containing paint requirements?
Yes. Some consumer products are exempt, with restrictions, and there are others that are exempt without restriction.
Exempt but must bear labeling restriction in 16 CFR §1303.3(b):
The following products are exempt as long as they are labeled with specific warnings indicating they contain lead: agricultural and industrial equipment refinish coatings; building and equipment maintenance coatings; products marketed solely for use on billboards, road signs, and similar products; touch-up coatings for agricultural equipment, lawn and garden equipment, and appliances; and catalyzed coatings marketed solely for use on radio-controlled model airplanes.
Please refer to the regulation for the specific label statements required and the location where those statements must appear on product labels. Even if a product is exempt from CPSC lead in paint requirements, a product may be banned by other federal authorities (e.g., the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has restrictions on the use of leaded industrial coatings for bridges).
Exempt and no cautionary labeling is required:
Mirrors that are part of furniture articles with lead-containing backing paint, artists paints, and metal furniture (other than children's furniture) with a factory-applied lead coating, like powder coating, are exempt from the regulation and require no cautionary labeling.
Are textile printing inks considered to be a surface coating?
The answer depends on whether the textile ink bonds with the fiber or if it can be scraped off of the textile substrate. If the ink can be scraped off the substrate, it must comply with the lead in paint requirements (0.009 percent or 90 ppm).
Many ink systems used in textile screen printing are plastisol-based or water-based and, if applied properly, fuse with the textile substrate and will not be able to be scraped off the substrate. (Each case may vary, depending upon the type of ink and application system used along with the individual characteristics of the screen print and substrate.)
Accordingly, where the ink cannot be scraped off the textile, CPSC staff treats the ink as being part of the substrate. Therefore, the entire children's garment (i.e., both the textile garment and the screen printing on the garment tested together), must comply with the 100 parts per million limit for total lead content. Importantly, the Commission has already determined that many natural and manufactured textiles (dyed and undyed) will not contain lead in excess of the 100 ppm limit and therefore, do not require testing. See 16 CFR §1500.91.
Certain specialty textile ink systems may use inks that are absorbed into the fabric and bond with the fabric substrate, effectively acting like a dye. CPSC staff treats such textile inks as a dyed textile and not subject to any testing for lead in paint or for total lead content. (Each case may vary depending upon the type of ink system used and the individual characteristics of the screen print and substrate.)
Finally, all garments for adults and children are also subject to other regulatory requirements, such as requirements on the flammability of wearing apparel and children's sleepwear. In addition, certain child care articles used to facilitate sleeping and eating, such as children's sleepwear and bibs, are also subject to the regulation on phthalates.
Is printing on paper subject to compliance with the lead in paint limit?
No. Paper printing inks are not considered to be paints or similar surface coating materials. See 16 CFR §1303.2(b)(1). Ordinary printing on paper is subject to compliance with the total lead content requirement of 100 parts per million. However, the Commission, in 16 CFR §1500.91, has exempted paper and other similar materials and CMYK process printing inks commonly used in printing on paper from third party testing for compliance with the lead requirement. In addition, Congress specifically exempted ordinary books and ordinary printed materials from third party testing for compliance with the total lead content requirement.
Are there additional limits for other heavy metals in paints and surface coatings for toys?
Yes. For toys, ASTM F963-17, Standard Consumer Safety Specification for Toy Safety, places additional limits on the amounts of antimony, arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury, and selenium based on the soluble portion of that material using a specified extraction method given in the standard.
It is necessary to conduct ASTM F963-17 solubility testing on applicable toys for antimony, arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, mercury, and selenium because those chemical elements are not covered by 16 CFR § 1303.1. For lead, however, testing for the soluble limit is not necessary for products subject to 16 CFR § 1303.1, because the maximum total lead content in paint is 90 ppm in 16 CFR § 1303.1, which is a more stringent requirement in all cases.
This testing, and other requirements specifically for toys, are addressed in our frequently asked questions on toys and the mandatory toy standards.
This additional requirement is only for toys and not for other children's products.
Are outdoor playground products required to comply with the lead in paint limit?
Yes, provided that the outdoor playground equipment is designed or intended primarily for use by children 12 years of age or younger.
Where can I find additional information?
For more information, please contact the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission:
- Office of Compliance (for specific enforcement inquires): e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; telephone: (800) 638-2772.
- 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 communication has been prepared for general informational purposes only and is based upon the facts and information presented. This communication does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice and has not been reviewed or approved by the Commission, and does not necessarily represent their views. Any views expressed in this communication may be changed or superseded by the Commission.