Children's Safe Products Act (CSPA)

teddy bear in a bed with a pillow and blankets
In 2008, Washington's Legislature passed the Children's Safe Products Act (or CSPA). This law applies to children’s products sold in Washington state. Washington’s laws apply to a broader range of consumer products than those covered by federal limits.

CSPA does the following:

Why does CSPA limit the chemicals that it does?

CSPA limits or bans the use of the chemicals it does due to their potential health risks, especially to children. These chemicals are also on our list of priority toxic chemicals due to their harmful impacts on the environment and wildlife.


Cadmium is a heavy metal that is made when refining zinc ore. It is used in pigments for plastics, ceramic, glass, and enamels. It is also used as a stabilizer for polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and in alloys and coatings on steel and other metals.

Health impacts due to exposure to cadmium and cadmium components can result in:

  • Cancer (cadmium is a known carcinogen).
  • Kidney damage.
  • Lung damage.
  • Fragile bones or bone loss.
  • Gastrointestinal irritation and vomiting.

Learn about the dangers of cadmium in children's jewelry.

Flame retardants

Flame retardants are a group of chemicals that manufacturers add to products such as foam, plastics, textiles, and others to meet flammability standards. Some of these chemicals pose health risks as well as impacts on the environment:

  • Cancer
  • Endocrine and reproductive effects
  • Neurological and developmental disorders
  • Some flame retardants bioaccumulate (i.e., they build up in living organisms over time), which can harm wildlife such as orcas and other species at the top of the food chain


Lead is both a naturally-occurring metal and a highly toxic chemical to people and wildlife. It can cause many different types of health problems, but children are more vulnerable than adults to the toxic effects of lead.

The main concern for children is the effect lead has on brain development. Lead is known to cause damage to the brain and nervous system resulting in:

  • Decreased IQs.
  • Learning problems.
  • Hearing and speech problems.
  • Antisocial and other behavioral issues.

In adults, lead exposure can lead to:

  • High blood pressure.
  • Kidney damage.

Lead has been used in products such as paint, ceramics, solders, batteries, cosmetics and plastic such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC).


Phthalates are a group of chemicals that can be used to make plastics more flexible, and as solvents and fixatives, such as to extend the life of scents in fragrances.

Some can cause the following health and environmental issues:

  • Hormone disruption.
  • Impaired reproduction and development in wildlife.
  • Toxic to aquatic life. 

How do Washington limits compare to federal limits?

Federal limits on lead, cadmium, and phthalates preempt Washington’s limits for those children’s products to which the federal limits apply. Washington’s laws apply to a broader range of children’s products than those covered by federal limits on cadmium and phthalates, but federal lead limits apply to nearly all children’s products as defined by Washington law.

How does Ecology enforce CSPA requirements?

In 2011, we adopted the Children's Safe Products Reporting Rule. This rule defines the chemicals that manufacturers must report and clarifies our enforcement process if manufacturers fail to report.

Product testing

Our team of scientists regularly conducts product testing to ensure manufacturers report accurately. We purchase and test products (chosen at random) to ensure the chemical levels from our tests match those submitted by the manufacturer.


When there are violations or inaccurate reporting:

  • Children’s products may be removed from the marketplace.
  • Fines may be issued.

Read our guidance on enforcement for lead, cadmium, and phthalates.

Click the image to go to our Safer Products for Washington resources page.
Concerned about toxic chemicals in other products?

Our Safer Products for Washington program works to make consumer products safer. Learn more about:

  • Types of harmful, unregulated chemicals in everyday products.
  • Products in your home that might have these chemicals.
  • How you can protect yourself from exposure.
  • How to connect with the Safer Products for Washington team.

Go to our Safer Products for Washington resources page for information and safety tips.