November 28, 2014 is the deadline set by Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for the submission of reports under the Toxic Chemicals in Children’s Products Law. Affected entities are manufacturers and distributors of specified children’s products if those products are sold in Maine and contain intentionally-added cadmium, arsenic or mercury above the practical quantitation limits for those chemicals. Reports must include information such as product descriptions, sales information, the amount of the chemical in the product and the function of the chemical in the product. More information may be found on the DEP website.
Products covered by the reporting requirement are:
- Bedding – materials used to provide a designated space for a child to sleep, including but not limited to bed linen such as a sheet or pillow, vital bed components such as a mattress and mattress cover, and bed framing
- Childcare Articles – consumer products designed or intended by the manufacturer to facilitate sleep or the feeding of children or to help children with sucking or teething
- Clothing – cloth or fiber articles, woven or otherwise assembled, into a material suitable for wearing on a child’s body
- Cosmetics – products used on a child’s body, typically on the skin, eyes, or nails, for the purpose of beautification or adornment
- Craft Supplies – any art supply sold for the use of a child under the age of 12 years for the purpose of making something in a carefully skillful way using one’s hands
- Footwear – articles intended to be worn on a child’s feet, such as shoes or slippers
- Games – products sold for use by a child which is either for entertainment or educational purposes and requires that the user touch various components
- Jewelry and Embellishments – decorative objects or ornament worn for adornment, such as a necklace, bracelet, earrings, or ring; and decorative details meant to be worn by a child (i.e. in hair, on the skin, or on clothing
- Safety Seat – a device, except Type I or Type II seat belts, which meets the federal of child restraint system within 49 CFR section 571.213 (Oct. 1, 2013), and is designed for use in a motor vehicle or aircraft to restrain, seat, or position children who weigh 30 kilograms (kg) or less, and includes backless child restraint systems commonly referred to as a booster seat
- Occasion Supplies – items used as specialty supplies for an atypical event as either decoration on a person (i.e. costume) or as party favors intended to be touched by the user
- Personal Accessories – items worn on a person for the purpose of emphasizing a style
- Personal Care Product – a product intended to be applied to a child’s body for hygienic care or treatment including but not limited to creams, soaps, oils, bath additives, mouthwash, powders, or sprays
- School Supplies – items commonly used by students in the course of their education such as pencil cases, rulers, specialty bags, or lunchboxes
- Toys – consumer products designed or intended by the manufacturer for a child under the age of 12 years for use by the child when the child plays.
Only the above-listed products containing intentionally-added cadmium, arsenic or mercury above the practical quantitation limits for those chemicals are the subject of the reporting requirement. “Intentionally added” refers to a chemical that was added during the manufacturing process to provide a specific characteristic, appearance or quality to a product, or to confer a specific function on a product. “Practical quantitation limit” is defined as follows:
the lowest concentration of a chemical that can be reliably measured within specified limits of precision, accuracy, representativeness, completeness and comparability during routine laboratory operating conditions. The practical quantification limit is based on scientifically defensible, standard analytical methods. The practical quantification limit for a given chemical may be different depending on the matrix and the analytical method used.
With the variability inherent in “practical quantitation limits,” given differences in labs and their protocols, lab equipment and matrices for similar products, the required reports may not give the DEP an accurate picture of chemical content in similar products. Yet, the data to be submitted will be used to make future regulatory decisions, including even the imposition of product bans. This program’s fairness and effectiveness remain to be seen.