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From Products Liability Law Daily, November 7, 2013

CPSC replaces current toy cap gun regulations with ASTM standard

By Joe Bichl

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has revoked its existing regulations banning caps intended for use with toy guns and toy guns not intended for use with caps because it says they are obsolete. Under a mandate of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, the agency is replacing these regulations with ASTM International Standard F 963, “Standard Consumer Safety Specifications for Toy Safety,” which are considered “more stringent” than current safety measures (CPSC Notice78 FR 66840, November 7, 2012).

Background. Current CPSC regulations pertaining to caps intended for use with toys guns (16 CFR Part 1500) were originally promulgated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. In 1973, these regulations fell under CPSC’s jurisdiction when the Federal Hazardous Substances Act (FHSA) and its implementing regulations were transferred from the FDA to CPSC. Since their promulgation, some of the specifications in the regulations have never been updated.

ASTM sound provisions. ASTM F963 contains provisions that are more stringent than existing regulations regarding sound-producing toys, which allow manufacturers to use more options with readily available test equipment for sound measurement to determine compliance. For example, ASTM F963 states that the “peak sound pressure level of impulsive sounds produced by a toy using percussion caps or other explosive action shall not exceed 125 decibels at 50 centimeters.” By comparison, current regulations impose a ban at or above 138 decibels at 25 centimeters.

ASTM test methods. ASTM F963 provisions for sound-producing toys allow the use of a “broader array of more precise and more readily available test equipment for sound measurement,” CPSC stated. In addition, the ASTM standard requires fewer measurements and permits the use of more automated equipment that would increase the efficiency of testing. Simply put, the agency believes that current test equipment is obsolete and unnecessary. For example, the ASTM F963 test method specifies the use of modern equipment (microphones meeting a particular specification). Today’s standing regulations by comparison involve the use of a microphone, a preamplifier (if required), and two types of oscilloscopes with specific response and calibration ranges.

The new rule takes effect December 9, 2013.

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