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Statement of Acting Chairman Ann Marie Buerkle on the Commission’s Determination that Certain Plastic Do Not Contain Prohibited Levels of Phthalates

August 24, 2017

I am very pleased that the Commission approved the staff’s recommendation that certain plastics do not need to be tested by third parties as a basis for certifying compliance with phthalate limits.  I believe this is one of the most significant burden reduction steps the CPSC has taken in recent years.  

Reducing unnecessary regulatory burdens is a top priority for me, and I intend to do what I can to accelerate our efforts to reduce regulatory burdens wherever possible.  I urge all CPSC stakeholders to bring opportunities for burden reduction to my attention.  One way to do so is to submit written comments in response to the Commission’s Request for Information on Potentially Reducing Regulatory Burdens Without Harming Consumers, 82 Fed. Reg. 27636 (June 16, 2017).  The deadline for comments in that proceeding is September 30, 2017.  The sooner we get your ideas, the sooner they can be considered and prioritized within our agency’s work.

I wish to comment on one specific burden reduction proposal that was suggested in this rulemaking.  One commenter asked that we consider rigid vinyl in future assessments of plastics that may be eligible for determinations.  To evaluate this request, our laboratory staff conducted hardness testing of a few plastic samples with known phthalate content.  The results are shown in Tab B of the staff’s Briefing Package (Table 1).  This limited data set did not allow us to draw definitive conclusions about the relationship between hardness and phthalate content.  On the other hand, both of the samples in compliance with phthalate limits also had “Shore D” hardness above the level recommended by the commenter.  This suggests to me that additional testing and assessment is warranted.  An effective screen for prohibited phthalates would not only reduce testing costs for manufacturers and importers; it would also save CPSC laboratory staff time that could be spent on other safety and compliance issues.

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