MEMPHIS -- As National Burn Awareness Week kicks off Feb. 4-10, the National Cotton Council (NCC) reiterated its support of the Consumer Products Safety Commission's (CPSC) Children's Sleepwear Flammability Standards.
The support comes as a Task Force that includes Shriners Hospitals indicated plans to reintroduce bipartisan legislation to Congress early this year in support of new stricter standards for infants' and children's sleepwear.
Following CPSC's 1999 reaffirmation of its amended standards, CPSC Commissioner Thomas Moore stated, . . ."The Commission has now gone through what amounts to a four-step rulemaking on this issue . . . I would hope before any Member of Congress contemplates taking further action in this area that they would read those three (briefing) packages, along with the most recent one, and not be guided by the misconceptions that have obscured this issue."
Dr. Phil Wakelyn, NCC senior scientist, environmental health and safety, agreed. He said the CPSC standards were amended by the agency in 1996 after years and millions of dollars of study and were reaffirmed in 1999, when mandatory labeling was added.
"CPSC is dedicated to children's safety, and this government agency made these amendments to make the standards more effective without reducing the safety of the original standards," Wakelyn said. "The standards are aimed at protecting children who are wearing sleepwear from small, open-flame sources when they are up and moving about. No commercial wearing apparel will be protective if the house or bed is on fire."
Wakelyn said the NCC is urging consumers to be aware of the labeling on these garments and what it means. The labeling provisions of the CPSC amendments help reduce confusion between what is considered sleepwear, underwear and playwear and offer the consumer a safe cotton alternative. Parents now have a choice of a clearly labeled alternative product if they want untreated 100 percent cotton or cotton blend sleepwear.
The labeling appears on non-flame resistant infant garments sized nine months and under and snug-fitting garments for sizes 9 months to 14. That sleepwear is allowed under 1996 amendments to CPSC's Children's Sleepwear Flammability Standards - amendments that CPSC reaffirmed in 1999 and added the mandatory labeling provisions.
The 1996 amendments did not change the regulations for loose fitting pajamas, nightgowns and robes. Those must be flame resistant because they are the most likely to be involved when injuries occur. The only children's sleepwear products that are not required to be flame resistant have to be snug fitting. The mandatory labeling (hangtags and permanent labels) for snug-fitting garments remind parents about fire hazards associated with loose-fitting sleepwear/clothing when the children are walking and crawling around potential fire sources.
Wakelyn said apparel manufacturers, distributors and retailers have an education and information campaign in place. The campaign, which the NCC supports, includes hangtags, point-of-purchase materials and signs posted in non-sleepwear product display areas warning parents not to purchase loose-fitting products not intended to be used as sleepwear.
The campaign encompasses the mandatory labeling requirements. CPSC's Compliance Office indicates vendors selling children's sleepwear without tags are subject to fines, and could face consumer lawsuits seeking civil penalties up to $1.6 million.
The required yellow hangtag and permanent garment label read: "For child's safety, garments should fit snugly. This garment is not flame resistant. Loose-fitting garment is more likely to catch fire."