(a) Summary. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issues this guidance to manufacturers, importers, distributors, and retailers to protect children from exposure to hazardous chemicals found in liquid-filled children’s products, such as rolling balls, bubble watches, necklaces, pens, paperweights, keychains, liquid timers, and mazes.1 The Commission identifies the major factors that it considers when evaluating liquid-filled children’s products that contain hazardous chemicals, and informs the public of its experience with exposure to these hazardous chemicals to children. To reduce the risk of exposure to hazardous chemicals, such as mercury, ethylene glycol, diethylene glycol, methanol, methylene chloride, petroleum distillates, toluene, xylene, and related chemicals, the Commission requests manufacturers to eliminate the use of such chemicals in children’s products. The Commission also recommends that, before purchasing products for resale, importers, distributors, and retailers obtain assurances from manufacturers that liquid-filled children’s products do not contain hazardous liquid chemicals.
1This guidance is not a rule. It is intended to highlight certain obligations under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act. Companies should read that Act and the accompanying regulations in this part for more detailed information.
(b) Hazard. During reasonably foreseeable handling or use of liquid-filled children’s products, hazardous chemicals may become accessible to young children in a manner that places children at risk. Young children are exposed to the chemicals from directly mouthing them or from handling such objects and subsequent hand-to-mouth or hand-to-eye activity. The specific type and frequency of behavior that a child exposed to a product will exhibit depends on the age of the child and the characteristics and pattern of use of the product. The adverse health effects of these chemicals to children include chemical poisoning from ingestion of the chemicals, pneumonia from aspiration of the chemicals into the lungs, and skin and eye irritation from exposure to the chemicals. The chemicals may also be combustible.
(c) Guidance. (1) Under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act (FHSA), products that are toxic or irritants and that may cause substantial injury or illness under reasonably foreseeable conditions of handling or use, including reasonably foreseeable ingestion by children, are “hazardous substances.” 15 U.S.C. 1261(f)(1). A product that is not intended for children, but that creates a risk of substantial injury or illness because it contains hazardous chemicals, requires precautionary labeling under the Act. 15 U.S.C. 1261(p). A toy or other article intended for use by children that contains an accessible and harmful amount of a hazardous chemical is banned. 15 U.S.C. 1261(q)(1)(A). In evaluating the potential hazard associated with children’s products that contain hazardous chemicals, the Commission’s staff considers certain factors on a case-by-case basis, including: the total amount of the hazardous chemical in a product, the accessibility of the hazardous chemicals to children, the risk presented by that accessibility, the age and foreseeable behavior of the children exposed to the product, and the marketing, patterns of use, and life cycle of the product.
(2) The Commission’s staff has identified a number of liquid-filled children’s products, such as rolling balls, bubble watches, necklaces, pens, paperweights, maze toys, liquid timers, and keychains, that contain hazardous chemicals. In several of these cases, the staff determined that these products violated the FHSA because they presented a risk of chemical poisoning and/or chemical pneumonia from aspiration. This determination resulted in recalls or in the replacement of those products with substitutes, as well as in agreements with the manufacturers to discontinue the use of hazardous chemicals in liquid-filled children’s products in future production. The Commission believes that these hazardous substances pose a risk to young children and, consequently, manufacturers should not have included them in the product design or manufacturing process.
(3) Therefore, the Commission considers the use of hazardous chemicals in children’s products such as those described above to be ill-advised and encourages manufacturers to avoid using them in such products. Further, the Commission recommends that, before purchasing such products for resale, importers, distributors, and retailers obtain assurances from the manufacturers that liquid-filled children’s products do not contain hazardous liquid chemicals.
[63 FR 70648, Dec. 22, 1998]