The children’s products industry in New York has a dangerous, often overlooked problem: Toxic chemicals, such as benzene, mercury and cobalt, have been found in children’s toy products, and exposure to these toxins can lead to long-lasting health problems. NYLCV partner organization Clean and Healthy New York tested products from stores across the state, and found that over 100 contained toxic metals. These toxic chemicals common to children’s products are scientifically linked to pediatric diseases and disorders of environmental origin, including asthma, cancer, learning and developmental disabilities, genetic malformations, early puberty and infertility.
Concerning chemicals have been routinely found at unsafe amounts in children’s products. Of the over 80,000 chemicals in commerce, few are well-studied and fewer still are restricted. Manufacturers and retailers selling directly to early care and education programs, including child care programs and Head Start, portray weak enforcement of the few existing chemical restrictions, and need to do more to screen out harmful chemicals. While nearly all retailers use certifications to identify chemically-safer products, only one company applies a broad chemicals policy to all products it sells.
Now, the New York State legislature is working to address this problem. Children’s product makers already report the presence of toxic chemicals in thousands of products in Washington, Vermont, and California, and New York could be added to that list if Toxic Show and Tell Act passes this session. The legislation would require children’s product manufacturers to report the presence of chemicals of high concern to the NYS Department of Health and the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, which would post the manufacturers and affected products publicly online. Although the measure has faced challenges from children’s product makers, who note they are already required to comply with federal regulations, parents and others purchasing products for children have a right to know if those products contain chemicals that will cause lasting negative impacts on their health.
The damage done to children by exposure to harmful chemicals early in life can be irreversible and difficult to detect until it is too late for action. Parents have a right to know which chemicals, and which products, pose a risk to their children so that they can avoid them, and retailers have a right to know so that they can choose to not sell them. To tell your legislators to support S.6034/A.7950, click here.