Here at Pencils.com and our parent company California Cedar Products Company, we feel a deep responsibility in our role as an industry leader to produce and market pencils, which fully comply with regulatory requirements and social values associated with product safety, environmental sustainability and international trade rules. We are committed to bringing a high level of transparency and integrity to our supply chain whether for one of our own California Republic brand family items or other brands or unbranded pencil and related products that we offer for sale in our store.
The main consumer safety concerns with pencils relate to potential toxicity issues. These generally refer to potential exposures to lead in surface coatings, potential allergic responses to latex that may be found in some erasers and more recently Phthalates which are occasionally used as plasticizers in some surface coatings. For more information about potential lead risks in pencils read our post here. Pencils sold in the United States are subject to numerous safety regulations including the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), Labeling of Hazardous Art Materials Act (LHAMA) and several state based regulations such as California Proposition 65. Differences in consumer product safety regulations also exist from country to country.
Generally, all well known national and international brands are very attentive to safety concerns. These companies work with industry associations such as the Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association (WIMA) Pencil Section in the U.S., FEPMA in Europe, JPMA in Japan as well as other industry participants, governmental agencies, consulting toxicologists and external testing agencies to implement testing protocols to assure a safe product. Reliance upon “on package” safety certification marks of the key international safety testing standards such as CE, ASTM D-4236 and EN-71, Part 3 is certainly very helpful. In some cases, an added safety certification such as WIMA’s PMA certification is offered on particular products offered by a manufacturer or marketer of pencils as well. For more detailed information on these standards and certification marks, Click here.
While for the most part manufacturers are willing and active participants in third-party testing programs and are certainly concerned about product safety, such vigilance is not always consistent from producer to producer and no testing regime is ever 100% fool proof. Thus, not all pencils are created equal when it comes to clear and easy to confirm safety performance. Increasing worldwide competition has lead to greater concentration of manufacturing in countries with lower operating costs and often less stringent regulatory oversight. In China alone there are hundreds of pencil companies producing for thousands of different customers worldwide and we have seen occasional instances where certain pencils have failed to meet required safety standards. Many “private label” or “non-producer” brand pencils are sold by companies that only market pencils and do not have a manufacturing background. Such non-producing companies are not all as vigilant with respect to keeping up with changing safety standards and instituting sufficient protections to validate testing claims of their pencil suppliers. Often the lowest cost product becomes the key purchase criteria. For the average consumer it is essentially impossible to tell whether the pencil they buy has actually been manufactured, sometimes even if the brand may historically be considered trustworthy.
At Pencils.com we are committed to supplying pencils which conform to all international and domestic U.S. safety standards. Our detailed knowledge of the global industry, and active participation and leadership in organizations such as WIMA assure that we remain abreast of product safety developments and design our supply chain and internal testing protocols to assure a safe and reliable high performing product. As a new feature of our website, each of the pencils for sale has a tab listing relevant environmental certifications, product safety marks, country of origin, etc. applicable to that product. Be sure to look for these marks when you purchase pencils at retail as well. While there is some risk that a product bearing such a certification mark does not comply with applicable standards, this is generally remote, particularly when marketed by a company with extensive manufacturing history in the pencil industry.
If you have questions or concerns about a particular pencil you should contact any of the following resources:
Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association www.wima.org
Consumer Products Safety Commission www.cpsc.gov