By  on August 21, 2009

WASHINGTON — The Consumer Product Safety Commission has exempted textiles from lead testing requirements.

The panel, which posted the decision on its Web site Thursday, said it determined textile products typically do not contain levels of lead that are harmful to children and, therefore, don’t need to be subject to the law’s testing requirements.

The federal Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, which went into effect last year, significantly lowered the lead limits for all products designated for children aged 12 years or younger. The requirements will be phased in over a period of several years, eventually decreasing to a maximum of 100 parts per million by August 2011 from the current 300 parts per million.

Natural fibers including cotton, linen, jute, silk and wool, as well as manufactured fibers such as rayon, acetate, polyester and nylon, are all exempt from testing requirements, according to the commission. Exceptions to the decision include fabrics that have decals or prints added to them after the dyeing and finishing process. Children’s leather items with pigment-based coatings must also be tested.

The interpretation of the testing requirements for textiles was one of a handful of major issues the industry was watching closely as the product safety act rolled out, said Stephen Lamar, executive vice president of the American Apparel & Footwear Association. However, he added that there are “still a zillion questions out there.”

They include how testing requirements will be applied to nontextile components used in apparel items. Further clarification from the commission is expected on how lead testing requirements for components like snaps, fasteners and zippers will be applied to apparel items.

“Common sense dictates that only those components that cannot receive a determination would require testing,” said commission chairwoman Inez Tenenbaum.

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