Children's Safe Products Act (CSPA)
In 2008, Washington's Legislature passed the Children's Safe Products Act (or CSPA) (Chapter 70A.430 RCW). 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:
- Limits the presence of these priority toxic chemicals:
- Phthalates (6 types).
- Flame retardants (5 types).
- Requires manufacturers to report if their children’s products contain chemicals of high concern to children (CHCC list).
What is a children’s product?
The law defines children’s products as those that fall under these six main categories:
- Children’s cosmetics made or marketed to children under the age of 12.
- Children’s jewelry made or marketed to children under the age of 12.
- Products to help a child with sucking or teething, sleeping, relaxation, or feeding.
- Products designed or intended to be worn as clothing or footwear by children.
- Portable infant or child automobile safety seats.
The law also defines what is not included as a children’s product (e.g., video toys, bicycles, certain sporting equipment, and chemistry sets).
Why does CSPA limit the chemicals that it does?
CSPA limits or bans the use of certain chemicals 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 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:
- 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.
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.