NYS Legislature regulates toxic chemicals in children’s products

Last week, the State Senate and Assembly both overwhelmingly passed the Child Safe Products Act (A06296-A/S. 501-B) – also known as the Toxic Toys bill, a long overdue step forward in protecting our children’s health and our environment.

The legislation is sponsored by the chairs of the Senate and Assembly Committees on Environmental Conservation, Todd Kaminsky and Steve Englebright. It requires manufacturers to disclose chemicals in children’s products and would ban the chemicals that pose the highest risk to children’s health. Children’s products covered by the legislation include toys, car seats, baby care products, toiletries, school supplies, and even furniture.

This policy will keep children safe and reduce environmental toxins.

Many children’s products contain chemicals that are linked to cancer, asthma, and other health problems. These products can be present at home, child care facilities, and schools, and repeated exposure over time can increase risk. Currently, these chemicals are regulated only on a case-by-case basis. This has been a particularly problematic approach for children since even a small exposure to some harmful chemicals can cause irreparable harm to their health. In recent years, there have been numerous occasions where dangerous chemicals, such as heavy metals or flame retardants, have been found in children’s products.

The legislation requires the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to post lists of dangerous chemicals on its website. Manufacturers of children’s products will be held accountable for notifying distributors and retailers about the presence of potentially toxic chemicals in their products and for providing all the necessary information regarding the toxicity of those chemicals. The bill also creates a regulatory framework for new toxins to be added to the list of dangerous chemicals as new scientific and medical research emerges.

These disclosure requirements allow families to make informed decisions when purchasing toys and other products.

In addition to disclosure, starting in January 2023, the legislation prohibits the sale of children’s products containing the most dangerous chemicals such as benzene, mercury, and cobalt.

Modeled after legislation that has already been in place in some other states, this bill has been a much-debated issue in New York State Legislature since 2014. By comparison, Washington passed a Children’s Safe Products Act in 2008 and Maine’s Legislature passed a similar law the same year. Some other states, such as Vermont and Oregon, followed their lead and implemented corresponding legislation in 2014 and 2015 respectively.

NYLCV has advocated for this legislation for ten years, repeatedly including it in our Policy Agendas and Legislative Scorecard. We believe that this is a common sense approach to protecting children from exposure to health hazards and reducing harmful toxins from our environment.

You can take action by sending messages to your legislators – one of the most important ways you can hold them accountable for their positions on the environment. Click here to say “thanks” to your legislators who supported the bill and “no thanks” to your legislators who didn’t.