Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen.
It is an honor for me to address TIA’s American International Toy Fair this morning.
Thank you, Carter Keithley and all of those who worked so hard to make this event possible. I would also like to thank Carter and TIA for its support of the APEC Toy Safety Dialogue held in Hong Kong this January. That was a very important event because our engagement with APEC economies, particularly China, will have a direct effect on the quality and safety of children’s toys here in the United States.
We know that engagement works with good business people because, right here in the United States, the cooperation that CPSC has seen from manufacturers, importers and retailers has had a dramatic effect on toy safety.
Over the last two years, the toy industry’s record on safety has improved dramatically. In 2008, there were 162 toy recalls; in 2009, toy recalls dropped to just 41. Recalls involving lead in toys dropped from 85 in 2008 to just 14 last year. I expect all of you in this room to dedicate yourselves to helping continue the trend this year.
You may recall that this past holiday season, I came to Times Square here in New York City where I delivered this message: “Toys sold in America today are safer for our children than ever before.” And I am here again today to recognize the hard work by members of your industry to make toys safer.
Give yourselves a round of applause. You deserve it.
The recalls of 2007 and 2008 resulted in Congress establishing the lowest lead limits in the world and ASTM 963 being turned into mandatory standards in 2009. “Many” manufacturers have improved designs and testing, “many” importers are dictating higher standards, and “many” retailers have begun their own testing. This is being done both to improve the safety of their products and to avoid the devastating income and reputation losses generated by having poor quality products recalled from store shelves.
I say “many” manufacturers, “many” importers and “many” retailers, because “some” in the toy industry still take risks for financial gain. About a week ago, our U.S. Customs and Border Protections investigators discovered nearly $100,000 in toys at the port of Seattle that had six times the allowable amount of lead. Shipments of lead-contaminated toys with an estimated domestic value of more than one million dollars have been seized at U.S. ports in 2009.
Obviously, “some” in the toy industry are not getting the word. Their behavior is putting America’s children at risk and their irresponsible actions are harming your reputation. So I call upon all of you to help make sure your entire industry heeds the call to “get the lead out” of children’s toys.
Working together, we have accomplished a lot. But much needs to be done. Consuming and producing economies have an inherent partnership and a mutual interest in strong safety standards to save lives, especially the lives of children.
As Chairman of CPSC, of course I am very interested in the Toy Safety Initiative. When industry works to improve the safety of its products, everyone benefits. Additional benefits can come when regulators do their jobs. That is why I believe U.S. and international regulators must build on our successes, encourage the improvement of existing toy standards, and create new standards to address emerging toy hazards.
Our experience suggests that the most pressing emerging hazards include:
powerful magnets that can be swallowed and create a deadly blockage in the small intestines;
lead and other dangerous metals;
sharp points and projectiles; and
It is the role of product safety regulators to ensure that all of these hazards are addressed by manufacturers and that they are not allowed to harm our children.
The U.S. experience with safety standards has been that you get a great deal of product safety by relying on robust voluntary consensus standards coupled with regulatory authority to intervene quickly in specific cases.
The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 recognized this principle when it made the ASTM F-963 toy standard mandatory. Yes, the law resulted in new federal toy regulations to address the market’s failure to meet the public’s concerns about safety, and CPSC will review the standard periodically to ensure that it protects the health of children.
The CPSIA was the response by the United States Congress to deficiencies in production and supply chain practices and an inadequate level of conformity assurance for children’s products.
In some cases, such as lead and phthalate levels, the law is very specific. But in general, it creates a new paradigm for standards, regulations, and conformance assurances when it comes to toys and other children’s products.
It creates a system that fosters constructive change – change by all parties in the supply chain: U.S. toy designers, importers, foreign supply chain managers and testing laboratory operators.
Under the CPSIA, the Commission has implemented the law’s mandatory third-party testing program for children’s products. The program is transparent and based on existing global laboratory accreditation standards. More than 230 labs from around the world are recognized on CPSC’s Web site, and more labs are added each week.
Congress put in place additional safeguards for manufacturer-owned labs and labs owned or controlled in whole or in part by a government – they too must pass a rigorous review process by CPSC staff.
As all of you know, the CPSIA is also decisive in its ban on phthalates. The U.S. Congress permanently banned three types of phthalates, and temporarily banned three other phthalates until additional research can be conducted.
For the three phthalates that were banned permanently, toys for children 12 and under are prohibited from having more than one tenth of one percent of phthalates. This rule went into effect on February 10, 2009, and manufacturers, importers and retailers in the United States must comply with it.
The CPSIA requires the appointment of a Chronic Hazard Advisory Panel (CHAP) to conduct research on phthalates. In December 2009, CPSC selected seven independent and respected scientists to serve on this Panel to assess the health risks from exposure to phthalates and if there are any negative effects from phthalate substitutes.
These scientists were nominated by the President of the National Academy of Sciences and included three American scientists and three others from Germany, the United Kingdom, and Canada.
Now, let me talk about our progress in the removal of lead in children’s products. Almost one year ago, the CPSIA instituted the first mandatory limit for lead content in children’s toys and products in the U.S. at 600 parts per million. In August of 2009, the total lead limit in substrates dropped to 300 parts per million and the limit for lead paint on toys dropped to 90 parts per million. These are now the most stringent lead limits in the world.
CPSC is aware that changes such as this need to be communicated quickly and clearly to suppliers. My colleagues and I at CPSC are doing all in our power to bring clarity to which products are impacted by the law, to establish testing protocols, and to accredit a significant number of testing labs around the world.
Just a few weeks ago, my fellow commissioners and I voted to extend a stay of enforcement on testing and certification of many regulated children’s products. Please note, however, that all products must continue to meet the lead and phthalate limits set forth in the CPSIA, even though some testing and certification requirements have been stayed.
Some of the categories of children’s products covered by the extended stay of enforcement for certification include: children’s toys and child care articles with banned phthalates, children’s toys subject to ASTM’s F-963 toy safety standard, and electrically-operated toys.
In addition, the Commission has decided not to require a general certificate of conformity for these categories of children’s products in the period before third party testing is required. A full list of required certifications and effective dates can be found on our Web site at www.cpsc.gov. Most of the information on the Web site has also been translated into Chinese.
The stay of enforcement will remain in effect for the children’s products I just listed while CPSC continues to work toward recognizing more labs here and around the world. To increase successful transition to these requirements, independent third party testing and certification will only be required for categories of children’s products that are manufactured more than 90 days after CPSC publishes in the Federal Register the laboratory accreditation requirements for any individual category of children’s products.
The Commission also voted to extend the stay on certification and third-party testing for children’s products subject to U.S. lead content limits. That stay is extended for one year and will come to an end on a date certain, February 10, 2011. Under this decision, products must still meet the current 300 ppm lead limit. Certification and third party testing to show compliance with the lead limits will be required for all children’s products manufactured after February 10, 2011.
It is important to note that many major retailers in the United States have demanded, and most likely will continue to demand, independent testing and certification from their suppliers in order to have their products placed on their store shelves.
Unchanged is the ongoing requirement for independent third party testing and certification for all children’s products subject to the following consumer product safety rules:
the ban on lead in paint and other surface coatings,
the ban on small parts, and
the limits on lead content of metal components of children’s jewelry.
Let me emphasize, the Commission has decided not to require a General Certificate of Conformity for children’s products. Certifications for children’s products will be specific to regulated requirements once the stay of enforcement is lifted and third party testing is mandatory for products subject to those regulations.
A full list of required certifications and effective dates can be found on our Web site. Under the CPSIA, different rules apply to nonchildren’s products and I urge you to visit our Web site for more information on those items.
My agency has spent the last year-and-a-half meeting with and listening to you on CPSIA implementation in an effort to increase safety and reduce the financial impact on industry.
I am pleased that the Commission voted unanimously to adopt an interim enforcement policy allowing component part testing. Under this policy, domestic manufacturers and importers now have a choice in certifying their products. As before, they can send samples of the entire children’s product out for independent third party testing.
Now they also can certify their products as meeting lead paint and lead content limits in the following ways:
For lead in paint, they may obtain test reports from CPSC-recognized independent third party testing labs showing that each paint on the product complies with the 90 ppm lead paint limit. Alternately, they may have certificates from paint suppliers declaring that all their paint on the product complies with the 90 ppm lead limit, based on testing by CPSC-recognized independent third party testing laboratories.
For lead content, they may obtain test reports from CPSC-recognized independent third-party testing labs showing that each of the accessible component parts on the product complies with the 300 ppm lead limit. Alternatively, they may have certificates from part suppliers declaring that all accessible component parts on the product comply with the 300 ppm lead limit based on testing by recognized independent third party testing laboratories.
It is my hope that those of you in the audience who are small business owners or crafters of toys will benefit in time from component part testing. I care deeply about how the law is impacting you – please know that I and the CPSC want to help you stay in business, while meeting the requirements of the law.
The CPSC will continue to put timely information on our Web site – in English and in other languages -- for reference by stakeholders. And we will continue web-based interactive training seminars that will provide practical information for industry as it seeks to comply with U.S. requirements. A very successful interactive webinar with a live audience of more than 150 for Chinese toy suppliers took place just this past December. We will continue to do these webinars.
While the stay of enforcement from testing and certification to F-963 compliance is in place, CPSC staff is working hard to develop testing protocols and accreditation rules for the regulatory implementation of each part of F-963. When the stay of enforcement is lifted, domestic manufacturers, importers, and their suppliers will be expected to comply.
Let me take a moment to restate a prediction I made last month related to F-963. In January, I stated that “the heavy metals cited in F-963, especially cadmium, are going to attract attention in the United States from consumer advocates, the media, and parents.” Three days after those words were recorded and sent to the APEC Toy Safety Dialogue in Hong Kong, the Associated Press broke a huge story about finding high levels of cadmium in imported children’s jewelry.
Even though metal jewelry is not a toy, I still urge all of you to ensure that those whom you do business with are not substituting cadmium, or other toxic heavy metals such as antimony or barium, in place of lead. All of us should be committed to keeping hazardous or toxic levels of heavy metals out of surface coatings and substrates of toys and children's products.
With the vast majority of toys consumed in the United States being imported, my agency fully recognizes that we live in a global marketplace. I am increasingly convinced that we regulators must increase our cooperation to best serve our customers and consumers. As CPSC continues to implement the CPSIA and review F-963, I assure you that we will be looking outward to find ways to harmonize our approach with our global partners.
One area where we have seen an increasing convergence of views on the right approach to increasing the safety of toys and other products is in the need for a systematic improvement of practices in the supply and distribution chain.
In October of last year, CPSC and AQSIQ met for our third Biennial Consumer Product Safety Summit in China. AQSIQ agreed that consumer product manufacturers should work hard to guarantee quality and improve safety.
AQSIQ affirmed the importance of product safety and quality best practices through its supervision over consumer product manufacturers, which incorporates a risk rating system for products. And our Chinese counterparts announced the implementation of a New Regulation of Inspection and Supervision on the Import and Export of Toys. This regulation emphasizes product design, control of raw material, and product quality control to ensure that toys conform to relevant product safety requirements.
We at the CPSC made clear our intentions to emphasize the need for U.S. importers to be more accountable as members of the supply and distribution chain. To help importers, CPSC is creating and promoting a new Handbook for Importing Safer Consumer Products.
Additionally, we are planning to produce a series of webinars for U.S. importers of consumer products, focusing on the steps necessary to ensure adequate and relevant premarket and production testing. This includes the need to ensure that foreign production facilities are knowledgeable about the federal safety requirements that apply to the product being made.
Although we may be on our way out of the global recession, many in the toy supply chain have a long way to go before the red ink is behind them. I recognize that as my agency implements the CPSIA, international coordination in establishing and communicating new requirements can help the toy industry stay competitive in a world of international trade.
I am as committed to transparency as I am to enforcement and as we go forward, I hope all of you will work closely with us through our comments process and open proceedings.
It is essential that we find common ground through dialogue on “building safety into toys and children’s products.”
The consequences of not building safety into a product, especially in a dynamic environment where there are not yet performance standards, can be grave – a lesson we have learned from magnets and which we cannot afford to ignore.
Voluntary efforts will only take us so far. In the U.S. market, the CPSIA has moved the emphasis on safety and conformance with standards as far up the supply chain as possible and performance by the various actors in the supply chain will be regulated.
Over the next few weeks and months, CPSC will have to make tough decisions about whether manufacturing supply chains really are meeting new accountability requirements.
Let me close my remarks, by assuring you of my intention to focus on international cooperation – with China, with Europe, and with other key economies as our agency goes forward with its implementation of the CPSIA. These efforts have the potential to benefit the toy industry by streamlining the number of standards and codes that need to be considered in global production and distribution.
I appreciate very much TIA providing an opportunity for me to once again share my thoughts on the challenges we face and opportunities before us as stakeholders committed to the safety of our children’s toys.