New York's Priority Chemicals

There are many chemicals that can harm our children's health.  The Child Safe Products Act focuses primarily on heavy metals, along with benzene and a form of chlorinated Tris.  Here's why they make the list:


What it is: Antimony is a hard, grayish semi-metallic metal used since ancient times. Antimony and it’s compounds are toxic.[i]

Where it’s found: Glass, ceramics, pottery, cables, batteries, fire-proofing compounds[ii], contaminated drinking water[iii]

Problems and concerns: Soluble Antimony salts, when ingested, can cause abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and cardiac toxicity. The respiratory uptake of antimony-containing dusts can cause irritation of respiratory tract and liver damage. In some cases, premature births and spontaneous abortions.[iv]



What it is: Arsenic is a mineral found in soil, bedrock and water.

Where it’s found: Children’s car seats, stuffed toys, bed frames, arts & crafts supplies*, as well as man-made products from smelting and refining plants.

Problems and concerns: Arsenic is a known carcinogen[i]  Arsenic poisoning affects 200,000,000 people worldwide.  Exposure has been associated with lower IQ scores in school-aged children and increased prevalence of Type 2 diabetes[ii]



What it is: Benzene is a naturally formed flammable liquid. It is a “Top 20” chemical in the US for its use as a starting catalyst in other chemicals.[vi]

Where it’s found: Baby food[vii], polyurethane foam in baby mattresses and other furniture, insect killers, household cleaners and degreasers. [viii]

Problems and concerns: Breathing in low levels can lead to genetic mutations or leukemia[ix] Inhibits growth and fetal development[x]



What it is: Beryllium is a hard metal used in tech manufacturing. It is also a human carcinogen closely associated with lung cancer.[i]

Where it’s found:  Electronic devices such as televisions and computers[ii] and bicycle frames[iii], heavy machinery such as rocket engines, missiles and landing gear.

Problems and concerns: Beryllium increases the risk of developing lung cancer[iv]. Airborne exposure can cause reduced lung function, known as chronic beryllium disease (CBD)[v]



What it is: Cadmium is a silvery-white heavy metal that is a biproduct of zinc mining.  It is used in pigments and plastics as a stabilizer. It is used in nickel-cadmium batteries.

Where it’s found: Children’s car seats, sleeping bags, toys, arts & crafts supplies*. Tobacco smoke, plant fertilizer, industrial paints and applications.[i]

Problems and concerns: Cadmium mimics estrogen, and can lead to breast or uterine cancer and early onset of puberty[ii] Low and long term exposure likely to lead to kidney and lung damage. Children exposed in utero are more likely to have a loss of motor skills and behavior dysfunction[iii]


What it is: Cobalt is mined in alloys with other metals. It is a heavy metal used in making ceramics, magnets and paint.

Where it’s found:  Pacifiers, teething rings, bibs, changing mats, bath/pool toys, and stuffed toys.  Metal plated products like zippers, jewelry, utensils.

Problems and concerns: It is a carcinogen.  It can reduce lung function, cause asthma, and increase rate of lung cancer in workers[1]. It can damage testicular development. It can cause memory deficits, behavioral problems and other cognitive impairment[1].



What it is: Lead is a heavy metal mined from the earth's crust. It is used as a sheild from radiation because of its density.  It is added to plastics to stabilize and to dyes to make certain colors brighter.  It is used to make inexpensive jewelry feel heavier. It is used in lead-acid batteries.

Where it’s found: Plastic toys containing PVC, baby rattles[ii], feeding bottles[iii], children’s jewelry.

Problems and concerns: Lead contamination can cause children with higher lead levels score lower on intelligence, verbal, and behavioral tests[iv]. Exposure can lead to both auditory and visual dysfunction, slowed growth and anemia. Can also influence children’s emotional responses, memory, and learning[v].



What it is: Mercury is a silvery metal, mined from the earth as mercuric sulfide or cinnabar.

Where it’s found: Batteries, lamps, old appliances, pharmaceuticals,[i] LCD screens. Children’s car seats, bed frames, toys, and sportswear.

Problems and concerns: Decreased motor function and memory. Acute poisoning can lead to numbness, hearing and speech impairment, coma, and death[ii]



What it is: Molybdenum is an element used in construction and iron and steel manufacturing.[i]

Where it’s found:  Changing mats, bibs, jewelry, sleeping bags, blankets, and toys* Stainless and construction steel, cast iron, military vehicles.

Problems and concerns: Decreased sperm count and quality[ii], Bone and joint deformities[iii], Central nervous system problems [iv]

Note: Molybdenum would not be banned under the current amended version of the Child Safe Products Act.


Tris (TDCPP)

What it is: Tris (tris-1,3dichloro propyl phosphate) is commonly used as a flame retardant and has been classified as a carcinogen by the California EPA. It is also a neurotoxin, harming brain and nerve functions.[i]

Where it’s found: Baby foam products and children toys such as pillows, infant mattresses, car seats, cribs.

Problems and concerns: Babies R’ Us and Wal-Mart were sued for having high levels of tris in children’s products. Tris can disrupt brain and nervous system function leading to brain cancer, kidney and testicular abnormalities. Tris also disrupts hormone systems and mutates DNA[ii]


[i] California EPA (2012) CAS substance tris

[ii] Amy Westervelt. Target, Walmart, Babies R’ Us sued over toxis baby products. (2012)




[i] Commerce resources group. The uses of molybdenum

[ii] Meeker, J.D., Rossano, M.G., Protas, B., Diamond, M.P., Puscheck, E., Daly, D., Panethm N. & Wirth, J.J. (2008). Cadmium, lead, and other metals in relation to semen quality: human evidence for molybdenum as a male reproductive toxicant. Environmental Health Perspectives. 116,  1473-1479.

[iii] Pitt, M.A., (1976) Molybdenum toxicity: Interactions between copper, molybdenum and sulphate. Agents and Actions,6, 758-769.

[iv] ibid



[i] Nrashant Singh, Deepak Kumar and Anand P. Sahu Arsenic in the environment: effects on human health and possible prevention. Journal of Environmental Biology (2007)

[ii] Kile, M.L. & Christiani, D.C. (2008). Environmental arsenic exposure and diabetes. Journal of the American Medical Association. 300, 845-846.



[i] World Health Organization (2013), Media center. Mercury and Health


[ii] Honda, S., Hylander, L. & Sakamoto, M. (2006). Recent advances in evaluation of health effects on mercury with special reference to methylmercury: a minireview. Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine. 11, 171-176.












[i] Safer Sites (2011) About Cadmium .


[ii] Johnson, M.D., Kenney, N., Stoica, A., Hilakivi-Clarke, L., Singh, B., Chepko, G., Clarke, R., Sholler, P.F., Lirio, A.A., Foss, C., Reiter, R., Trock, B., Paik, S. & Martin, M.B. (2003). Cadmium mimics the in vivo effects of estrogen in the uterus and mammary glands. Nature Medicine. 9, 1081-1084.


[iii] Schoeters, G., Den Hond, E., Zuurbier, M., Naginiene, R., Vanden Hazel, P., Stilianakis, N., Ronchetti, R. & Koppe, J.G. (2006). Cadmium and children: exposure and health effects. Acta Paediatrica. 95, 50-54.





[ii] Sindiku, O.K. & Osibanjo, O. (2011). Some priority heavy metals in children’s toys imported to Nigeria. Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health Sciences. 3, 109-115.

[iii] Omolaoye, J.A., Uairu, A., & Gimba, C.E. (2010). Heavy metal assessment of some soft plastic toys imported into Nigeria from China. Journal of Environmental Chemistry and Ecotoxicology. 2, 126-130.

[iv] Needleman, H.L., Gunnoe, C., Leviton, A., Reed, R., Peresie, H., Maher, C. & Barrett, P. (1979). Deficits in psychologic and classroom performance of children with elevated dentine lead levels. The New England Journal of Medicine. 300, 659-695.

[v] Finkelstein, Y., Markowitz, M.E. & Rosen, J.F. (1998). Low-level lead-induced neurotoxicity in children: an update on central nervous system effects. Brain Research Reviews. 27, 168-176.



[i] United States Department of Labor. Occupational Safety and Health. Beryllium

[ii] Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry. (2002). Public health statement for beryllium. U.S. Department f Health and Human Services, Public Health Service.

[iii] Willis, H. H., & Florig, H. K. (2002). Potential Exposures and Risks from Beryllium‐Containing Products. Risk Analysis, 22, 1019-1033.

[iv] Steenland, K. & Ward, E. (1991). Lung cancer incidence among patients with beryllium disease: a cohort mortality study. Journal of the National Cancer Institute. 83, 1380-1385.

[v] Maier, L.A. (2002). Genetic and exposure risks for chronic beryllium disease. -Clinics in Chest Medicine. 23, 827-839.



[vi] Center for disease control and prevention. Facts about Benzene

[vii] Lachenmeier, D.W., Steinbrenner, N., Lobell-Behrends, S., Reush, H., & Kuballa, T. (2010). Benzene contamination in heat-treated carrot products including baby foods. The Open Toxicology Journal. 4, 39-42.,33&as_ylo=2009

[viii] Sheppard, J. (2009). Protect your baby from toxic exposure. Healthy Child.

[ix] McHale, C.M., Zhang, L. & Smith, M.T. (2012) Current understanding of the mechanism of benzene-induced leukemia in humans: implications for risk assessment. Carcinogenesis. 33, 240-252.

[x] Hudak, A. & Ungvary, G. (1978). Embryonic effects of benzene and its methyl derivatives: toluene, xylene. Toxicology. 11, 55-63.

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