Understanding Child-Resistant Packaging Regulations

May 5, 2022
Posted in Packaging
May 5, 2022 Paul Green

In 1970, the Poison Prevention Packaging Act (PPPA) was implemented as a way to protect children from ingesting potentially hazardous items, including chemicals, cleaners, and medicine, which could lead to accidental poisoning. The requirement was that packaging on these types of items needed to be child-resistant, but what does that actually mean?

What Is Child-Resistant Packaging?

When the PPPA was passed into law, the requirement for child-resistant packaging was that the container must be manufactured in such a way that it would be extremely difficult for children under the age of five to open it in a reasonable time but still be simple enough for adults to open. For elders or adults with disabilities, there needed to be packages that were easy to open without the added child restraints, but those containers were required to have a special warning to negate that they were not safe for homes with children.

Safety Caps

Typically, child-resistant closures are designed with a single piece or two pieces, and require at least two motions to get the container open. The more typical designs are the “push down and turn” and “squeeze lock” closures, but others include:

  • Caps with tamper-evident rings
  • Friendly and safe caps
  • “Hold tab down and turn” caps
  • Snap safe caps
  • Rx squeeze vial caps

Blister Packs

These are common in pharmaceutical packaging as they help divide products into individual dosages and protect them from the elements. The way blister packs are designed, the plastic on the back is harder to get through, which is what helps to make it child-resistant.

Zippered Pouches

As a newer product on the market, locking zippered pouches are not as commonly known as child-resistant packaging. However, with a push release lock, they are easy for adults to open but extremely difficult for children to access. While these pouches are popular in the cannabis and marijuana industries, they are gaining traction in households across the nation as a general safety measure to protect children.

There are also packages made for single-use instances as well as ones made with opaque materials to conceal the contents from young children, providing an additional safeguard against accidental ingestion.

Aerosol Cans

Although aerosol cans, like those for air fresheners and hairsprays, are not marketed as being child-resistant, some brands have moved toward including child-resistant closures to prevent accidental spraying.

What Items Need Child-Resistant Packaging?

According to the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, some of the most popular products that require child-resistant packaging include: 

  • Acetaminophen
  • Aspirin
  • Diphenhydramine
  • Ibuprofen
  • Iron-containing drugs and dietary supplements 
  • Imidazolines
  • Methyl salicylate
  • Mouthwash
  • Naproxen
  • Over-the-counter switch drugs
  • Vitamins
  • Cleaning products 
  • Insecticides 
  • And more 

A complete list, broken down by industry, can be found in 16 CFR §1700.14 of the PPPA.

How Are Child-Resistant Packages Tested?

To determine if packaging meets child-resistant standards, the package (empty or filled with non-harmful placebo) is given to groups of children between the ages of 42 to 51 months. The children are allowed 10 minutes to try to open the package. After five minutes, children are given a visual demonstration of how to open the package. Experienced test monitors observe two children at a time. The requirements to pass the test are found here. If the results are inconclusive, the testing continues with additional children. 

When Is Child-Resistant Packaging Needed?

Manufacturers in the pharmaceutical and household cleaning products industry can expect that nearly all of their products will require child-resistant packaging. However, as new products are coming to the market every day, it is important for manufacturers to understand if and when their products require additional safety measures.  

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has rules and regulations listed on their site that can help emerging manufacturers navigate child-resistant packaging, some of which include: 

  • The nature and use of the household substance 
  • Industry standards set by the PPPA
  • Availability of data that indicates a risk of accidental ingestion 
  • And more

Other Things to Know

Since the implementation of the PPPA, incidents of accidental poisoning have decreased. Most harmful products on the market, whether they need it or not, include child-resistant packaging. However, child-resistant does not mean child-proof. There is no way to make packaging completely child-proof. Manufacturers need to ensure that their items meet all of the requirements for child-resistant packaging to ensure the safety of consumers.

Parents are also responsible to take extra precautions in their homes by keeping medications, cleaners, and other harmful items out of the reach of children. It is best to move such items up to an area which younger children can’t reach or, as an added safeguard, keep them behind a locked door.

Moving Forward

Child-resistant packaging should be a priority for every industry, manufacturer, product seller, and parent in the world. Familiarizing ourselves with the PPPA and CPSC requirements for child-resistant packaging will allow everyone to take responsibility for keeping our children safe. Visit Child Related Research to learn more about child-resistant packaging or call us at 801-904-3893.

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