Laying out the Facts
by Tara Taffera
Many in the industry are scrambling to take the necessary
precautions to be ready for the new lead paint regulations when they go
into effect on April 22, 2010. (To learn more about the regulations, visit
type “lead paint” in the search site archives box ).
But many are also talking about how, if at all, these new regulations
apply to door and window hardware. Some of this controversy was spurred
by a recent article in DWM magazine so we decided a follow-up article
was needed to look into the subject further and clarify a few points.
We went to additional experts to again look at the issue of acceptable
levels of lead in door and hardware products.
At the heart of the issue is the question, “Does the Environmental Protection
Agency’s (EPA’s) Lead-based Paint Renovation, Repair and Painting Program
(RRP) encompass window hardware?”
The EPA’s Mike Wilson told DWM magazine it does not.
“The RRP would not prohibit hardware with lead in it from being put in,”
says Wilson. “This is beyond the scope of the regulation.”
He added, “That would [fall] under the [Consumer Product Safety Commission
Reviewing CPSC Rules
So let’s look at what language published by the CPSC says in reference
to doors and windows and their related hardware.
Stephen Murphy of Reed Smith LLP, an attorney who specializes in Consumer
Product Safety Commission issues, points out that the Consumer Product
Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA) imposed for the first time a limit
on lead content in children’s products.
“The CPSIA does not impose lead content limits on any other products,
including doors and windows,” says Murphy. “The CPSIA does, however, reduce
the lead in paint limit for ‘toys and other articles intended for use
by children’ and for ‘furniture articles for consumer use’ from 600 [parts
per million (ppm)] to 90 ppm. This lead paint limit has been in effect
for some time.
It does not apply to doors or
Many industries are looking at the lead issue and are wondering how the
change affects their products, even if the products aren’t intended for
use by children. For example, one furniture maker had contacted the CPSC
to ask how it would affect his business, and, in the answer, CPSC points
out that its guidelines do not apply to doors and windows.
“16 C.F.R. § 1303.1 provides that the lead paint limits apply to
toys and other articles intended for use by children, as well as furniture
articles for consumer use that bear lead-containing paint,” writes CPSC.
“Furniture articles include, but are not limited to beds, bookcases, chairs,
chests, tables, dressers, desks, pianos, console televisions and sofas.
However, they do not include appliances such as ranges, refrigerators,
dishwashers, clothes washers and dryers, air conditioners, humidifiers
and dehumidifiers; fixtures such as bathroom fixtures, built-in cabinets,
chandeliers, windows and doors; or household items such as window shades,
venetian blinds or wall hangings and draperies.”
D.S. Berenson with Johanson Berenson LLP also points out that the CPSC
lead paint ban (16 CFR 1303) does not apply to windows or doors, and that
is interpreted to include handles and hardware for doors and windows.
Murphy goes further, saying that doors and windows are not “children’s
“Because the definition of children’s products is limited to consumer
products designed and intended ‘primarily’ for children 12 years of age
or younger, it is clear that door and window hardware would not constitute
a ‘children’s product.’ Doors and window hardware is plainly intended
primarily for adults,” he says.
Regardless of whether hardware is intended for use by children or not,
Daniel Twarog, president of the North American Die Casting Association
(NADCA) says that “all certified North American produced zinc alloys fall
well below 0.005 percent or 50 ppm in lead content.”
“This is much lower than the concentrations dictated by any environmental
act of regulation,” he adds.
AAMA Task Group Studies This Issue
The American Architectural Manufacturers Association’s (AAMA) hardware
surface test task group was formed in 2008 to look at the lead content
in hardware products. The group met during the association’s 2009 Fall
Conference and reviewed the current wording within the current draft of
the 101/I.S.2/A440-2011 regarding lead content. New wording was discussed;
a motion to accept the new wording and forward on to the joint document
management group passed unanimously.
The new wording is as follows: “At the point of manufacture, hardware
intended for repetitive human touch by the consumer shall contain only
insubstantial lead on the outermost surface part. If the part is coated,
the coatings (e.g. paint, plating, oil and clear coat) shall be considered
the outermost surface of the part. The presence of lead shall be determined
by testing in accordance with ASTM E1753 (Rhodizonate Surface Swab Test).”
(Note: Several Rhodizonate swab kits are commercially available. Users
should use kits with a sensitivity appropriate for the requirements of
The task group met again during the association’s annual meeting held
in February 2009, and this time addressed some of the confusion regarding
the new EPA requirements, according to Chuck Anderson, AAMA codes and
industry affairs manager.
“There is confusion within the marketplace regarding lead maximums, and
all manufacturers and suppliers should be informed about what is truly
required,” says Anderson. The group recommended that lead requirements
be included in the next revision of AAMA/WDMA/CSA 101/I.S.2/A440, NAFS
to be published in 2011.
This language is still under development and in draft form but, at press
time, the proposed language provided clarification on the procedures and
cites ASTM, NIOSH, and EPA protocols.
“It is imperative that manufacturers confirm the percentage of lead in
the hardware provided by their suppliers,” says Anderson.
He also points out that AAMA has already addressed this concern for the
overall fenestration product by requiring limitations of less than 0.02
percent, or 200 parts per million, as part of AAMA’s profile certification
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