Office of the Secretary
Consumer Product Safety Commission, Room 502,
4330 East-West Highway,
Bethesda, Maryland, 20814
January 30, 2009
RE: Request for Comments and Information – Section 102 Mandatory Third-Party Testing of Conenet Parts for Certain Children’s Products
OTA appreciates the effort of the CPSC staff to solicit public comments concerning implementation of the CPSIA. As an industry association representing over 1700 members, including over 400 organic textile companies, we offer the comments that follow in support of the statutory intent to protect children from contact with lead and other health hazards.
Our members are highly motivated by the concern for protecting children from exposure to toxic substances, and the increasing popularity of organically produced textile products is concentrated in infants’ and childrens’ clothing and bedding. The FTC has ruled that in order to label the fiber content of a textile product as “organic,” it must be produced in compliance with the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) regulations.
However, neither the FTC nor the NOP covers textile processing or manufacturing methods, so neither recognizes the organic label on a textile product. OTA has helped to develop a textile processing standard for organic fiber products, now established as the voluntary program known as the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)(1). GOTS certification, like the NOP, requires third party verification and auditing of any operation that manufactures or handles products identified as “organic” under GOTS.
All dyes, auxiliaries, and other inputs and components used in a GOTS certified product must be free of heavy metals as defined by Ecological and Toxicological Association of Dyes and Organic Pigments Manufacturers (ETAD). The ETAD limit for lead is 100ppm. Accordingly, OTA intends to request that GOTS certified products, as well as component parts (e.g., fabrics, yarns) that are GOTS certified, should be excluded from the CPSIA lead testing requirement. We have requested information about test results and other empirical data from our members, and hope to provide this information in support of our comment in response to the CPSC’s Notice of proposed procedures and requirements.
In addition, many of our members are very small manufacturers who produce in small volumes. Some also use recycled fabrics and other components in their products. We are concerned that the cost of testing may in some cases exceed the value of the products, and ask that you consider an exemption or reduced testing requirement for small manufacturers and handcraft producers.
Our responses to the specific questions posed by the CPSC Staff are as follows:
* How would the risk of introducing non-compliant product into the marketplace would be affected by permitting third-party testing of the component parts of a consumer product versus third-party testing of the finished consumer product?
OTA supports the approach of requiring that manufacturers of childrens’ products obtain documentation that suppliers of component parts do not contain lead. We believe that third party verification and auditing of the manufacturing process for any product, including component parts, is sufficient to prevent the introduction of lead into the content of the final product.
* What are the conditions and or circumstances, if any, that should be considered in allowing third-party testing of component parts?
OTA urges the CPSC to allow the possibility of third-party certification of the manufacturing process in addition to third-party testing of component parts. The approach of process certification rather than product testing is a primary feature of organic label claims, and is successfully implemented throughout the world as, among other things, a means of preventing the introduction of prohibited substances into the supply chain.
Third-party certification or testing of component parts must be accompanied by a fully traceable audit trail to ensure that only those components with appropriate certification documentation are used to produce a given retail article. GOTS certification, like all organic and process-based certifications, requires operators to undergo annual audits to verify that their manufacturing processes and inputs are compliant with the standards.
Those manufacturers who assemble GOTS-certified components, but who are not themselves certified, could similarly be required to maintain fully traceable documentation of either GOTS certification or appropriate third party lead testing certification for all inputs and components.
* What are the conditions, if any, under which supplier third-party testing of raw materials or components should be acceptable?
Third party certification bodies should be accredited by a recognized accreditation body under ISO 65 (or ISO/IEC 17021:2006), and include periodic testing of a representative sample of product as part of the verification regime.
* Assuming all component parts are compliant, what manufacturing processes and/or environmental conditions might introduce factors that would increase the risk of allowing non-compliant consumer products into the marketplace.
* Whether and how the use and control of subcontractors would be affected by allowing the third-party testing of component parts.
We would note that, for the most part, OTA members who use GOTS certified components in their textile products are assembling these components into finished garments, home furnishings and the like. We would suggest that assembly of component parts that does not entail addition of chemical inputs or treatments would pose no risk of introducing lead into the final products.
* What changes in inventory control methods, if any, should be required if third-party testing of component parts were permitted. Address receipt, storage and quality control of incoming materials, management and control of work-in-process, non-conforming material control, control of rework, inventory rotation, and overall identification and control of materials.
* How a manufacturer would manage lot-to-lot variation of component parts, in a third-party testing of component parts regime, to ensure finished consumer products are compliant.
A fully traceable supply chain must be included with any third-party certification or testing procedure, such that the lot code identification and source of all components and inputs used in producing a finished textile product can be identified. Quality management systems must therefore be in place to establish the procedures necessary to document every transformation and movement of inputs, components, works in progress, and finished goods.
* Whether consideration of third-party testing of component parts should be given for any particular industry groups or particular component parts and materials. Explain what it is about these industries, component parts, and/or materials that make them uniquely suited to this approach.
GOTS certification of organic textile products and component parts, such as dyed fabrics and yarns, should be sufficient to demonstrate that no lead-containing inputs have been used in their manufacture, and therefore considered equivalent to third-party testing. This is demonstrated by a well documented third party verification of the manufacturing and handling system, including a fully traceable audit trail that allows all inputs to be traced through the supply chain.
OTA also requests clarification of your interpretation of a “reasonable testing program,” as provided for in the CPSIA. For example, we suggest that a reasonable testing program could require testing of only a sample of product lots, selected according to a risk analysis methodology, with diminishing sample size as consistently negative results are demonstrated.
Finally, we note that relatively inexpensive lead testing methods are becoming increasingly available, and look forward to additional clarification and guidance to enable small manufacturers, whether of component parts or finished goods, to satisfy the requirements for third party certification of test results.
OTA appreciates the opportunity to provide input to this important rule making process, and we will be happy to respond to requests for additional information about organic textile manufacturing and GOTS certification.
(1) Please see www.global-standard.org for more information on GOTS.