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Canada Proposes New Lead Limit for Children’s Clothing and Accessories

Monday, December 19, 2016
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

[Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in the Dec. 16, 2016, issue of the Advisor, a weekly publication of the STR-TAP service, which provides news and analysis vital to professionals in the textile and apparel industry. Click here for more information or to subscribe.]

The Canadian government has issued two proposals that would set significantly more stringent requirements for toxic heavy metals in children’s jewelry and certain other children’s products, including clothing and accessories. Specifically, Health Canada is proposing to (1) further reduce the current limit on lead in children’s jewelry and set a strict limit for cadmium in children’s jewelry items small enough to be swallowed, and (2) broaden the strict limits for lead in consumer products that children are likely to be in contact with to include clothing, clothing accessories, toys, and child care and certain other articles.

The following children’s products would be subject to a new maximum total lead limit of 90 milligrams per kilogram: (1) clothing and accessories for children under 14 years of age, (2) toys for children three to 14 years old, and (3) products whose primary purpose is to facilitate the relaxation, sleep, hygiene, carrying, or transportation of a child less than four years of age. Health Canada notes that the proposed limit would apply to total rather than migratable lead because a total lead limit is considered a more reliable measure of maximum exposure risks.

Unlike total lead content, migratable lead content is not a fixed value as factors such as duration of exposure, temperature, and condition of the item may greatly influence migration rates. The agency indicates that the scope of “products whose primary purpose is to facilitate the relaxation, sleep, hygiene, carrying or transportation of a child under four years of age” differs from the scope of “child care articles” as defined in U.S. laws and regulations pertaining to consumer products. While the U.S. definition does not cover products such as baby baths, backpacks, slings, and carriers, those items are included in the Canadian proposal because their normal use involves reasonably foreseeable contact with the mouth of a child and may therefore pose a lead exposure risk.

The agency adds that products that are compliant with the U.S. 100 mg/kg total lead limit (but not the proposed 90 mg/kg limit) would not always result in recall action by Health Canada. Decisions would made on a case-by-case basis taking into consideration various factors such as past compliance history, type of product, availability on the market, previous amounts sold to consumers, and level of risk posed by the product.

Health Canada is also proposing to (1) add a 130 mg/kg total cadmium limit for children’s jewelry items small enough to be swallowed by a child (i.e., small enough to be totally enclosed in a small parts cylinder when a force of not more than 4.45 N is applied) and (2) replace the current 600 mg/kg total lead limit and the 90 mg/kg migratable lead limit with a single 90 mg/kg total lead limit for all children’s jewelry items. The term “children’s jewelry” is defined as jewelry manufactured, sized, decorated, packaged, advertised, or sold in a manner that appeals primarily to children under 15 years of age. Excluded from the scope of this definition are merit badges, medals for achievement, and other similar objects normally worn only occasionally.

Interested parties may submit input on these proposals no later than Feb. 15, 2017. If adopted as currently proposed, the new requirements would enter into force six months from the date of publication of a final regulation in the Canada Gazette. The proposal on certain children’s products is available here, while the proposal on children’s jewelry is available here.

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