Yesterday the CPSC held an all-day meeting to again address ways to reduce the costs of third party testing. Recall that three years ago, in Public Law 112-28, Congress told the agency of its concern that testing costs were imposing an undue burden and directed the agency to identify and implement opportunities to reduce that burden. Over the past three years, the agency has asked for public comment on opportunities to reduce testing costs three, or is it four, times (but who’s counting).
Yesterday’s meeting focused on whether the agency should make “determinations” that certain substances do not and cannot contain phthalates and the various heavy metals listed in the toy standard, ASTM F-963. This inquiry is patterned after the action the agency took in 2009 when it determined that certain substances, such as natural fibers and untreated wood for example, did not and could not contain lead and so therefore there was no need to test for it.
Perhaps the agency will determine that the same substances that are exempt from lead testing should also be exempted from testing for phthalates and heavy metals. If it does, then perhaps that action will provide a bit of relief for those companies that have been engaged in such useless testing.
But I have two questions for the agency:
(1) What took you so long to reach such an obvious conclusion?
(2) What more are you going to do to carry out Congress’ mandate or do you plan to stop there?
The agency was able to make its lead testing determinations very quickly and with a minimum of regulatory gyrations. It has taken the current agency three years to even make an inquiry into questions that should have been very easy to answer. What may come out of this exercise is very minimal relief with maximum patting oneself on the back for reducing testing costs. I do hope the agency proves me wrong.