Many children’s products, including toys, car seats, and apparel may contain chemicals that are linked to cancer, developmental delays, cognitive impairments, illness, and other health problems. These products can be present in the home, child care facilities, and school, and repeated exposure over time can increase risk. These chemicals were regulated on a case-by-case basis, which is inadequate to the scope of the problem.
A new law signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo on February 7, 2020 will:
- Create and maintain a list of chemicals of concern and dangerous chemicals
- Require manufacturers of children’s products to disclose if they use any of these chemicals in their products
- Ban the sale of any new children’s products containing dangerous chemicals
The move marks the fulfillment of a decade-long campaign by the JustGreen Partnership, a broad, diverse coalition of environmental health advocates, health-impacted groups, sustainable businesses, environmental justice leaders, health care providers, child care providers, parent groups and many others. NYLCV is a proud steering committee member of this coalition.
NYLCV and NYLCV’s Education Fund have been actively working on this issue for six years. In 2014 and 2015, we conducted tests in stores throughout the state and released six reports showing that dangerous chemicals were present in children’s jewelry, toy cars, clothing, and more. To produce these reports, NYLCVEF partnered with Clean and Healthy New York to analyze popular toys in area stores for toxic chemicals and heavy metals.
After the release of our reports and our grassroots advocacy, state and local lawmakers sprung into action:
- New York State legislature introduced the Child Safe Products Act
- New York City introduced a bill that would ban hazardous chemicals from children’s toys and clothes
- Albany became the first county in New York State to enact legislation protecting children from toxic toys in January.
- Westchester County signed a bill to ban toxic toys from store shelves.
- Suffolk County took action on toxic toys
- Rockland County unanimously passed legislation
In 2018, NYLCVEF and its partner Clean and Healthy New York teamed up again to produce a new report, “Tell Me More: Missing Information on Harmful Chemicals in Children’s Products” that screened children’s products purchased on Long Island, in Westchester County, and Albany finding heavy metals, such as cadmium and antimony, and flame retardants. The report also included findings of chemicals of concern in children’s products that were conducted and published in peer-reviewed journals by researchers from the New York State Department of Health’s Wadsworth Laboratory.
Finally, after years of education and advocacy, the Child Safe Products Act passed 53-9 in the Senate and 100-23 in the Assembly on April 30, 2019, as part of a first-ever bicameral Earth Day package.
This victory would not have been possible without the participation of NYLCV’s members. Over the years, thousands of emails were sent and hundreds of phone calls were made. We even got Santa Claus into the action around the holidays to help educate even more people about these dangerous chemicals!
The legislative process is often long, but your support never wavered. We applaud Governor Cuomo for signing this bill and thank Senator Kaminsky, Assemblymember Englebright, and the many environmental champions that worked on this legislation with us.