New York State Policymakers Pass Bipartisan Bill to Protect Children from Toxic Chemicals

Advocates and businesses from across NYS, in Albany to call for environmental health and justice, applaud the action

(Albany, NY - April 30, 2019) Today, elected officials passed the Child Safe Products Act (S.501-B Kaminsky / A. 6296-A Englebright), to require children’s product makers to disclose harmful chemicals and empower the state to phase out chemicals as it deems necessary to protect children’s health. The bill passed 53-9 in the Senate, and 100-23 in the Assembly. Advocates from across the state, representatives of the JustGreen Partnership,  lauded the action, as they gathered at the Capitol to call for action on environmental health and justice, with an agenda that included action on disclosure of chemicals in personal care and menstrual care products, and restrictions on certain nonstick chemicals in foodware.


Chemicals of concern can profoundly impact development and health in babies and tweens, whose rapidly changing bodies are significantly more vulnerable than adults. An extensive and growing body scientific research documents the role chemicals in products, air, water, and soil can have on human health harm including cancer, asthma, infertility, learning and developmental disabilities, allergies, and diabetes. Some chemicals disrupt human hormones, requiring only vanishingly small quantities to cause harm.  


“We can’t wait for Washington to wake up from its slumber to do something about children’s health”, said Senator Todd Kaminsky, co-sponsor of the Child Safe Products Act. There’s well documented evidence that these chemicals are harmful to children. I have a ten month old child, I watch him put everything he can get his hands on in his mouth. If you walked into my home right now you could barely see the floor for all the toys there.”


“Children are not just small adults and they are more sensitive to and are at an increased risk from chemical exposure,” said Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket), bill sponsor and Environmental Conservation Committee Chair. “Nearly 80,000 chemicals are used in the country today, many of which are unstudied and largely unregulated. We need to act now to protect our children's health and the environment from unnecessary toxic chemicals found in products designed for kids. That's why I'm proud to sponsor the Child Safe Products Act, and celebrate its passage today.”


“Targeting children’s products to ensure protection of our most vulnerable residents is something we can all agree upon”, said Senator Phil Boyle, (R-Bayshore) who sponsored a similar measure in recent legislative sessions. “Protecting children from toxic chemicals is just common sense. Despite market advancements and announcements by major retailers, voluntary measures just don’t get us there. It’s up to us, as elected officials, to take action to protect our own residents by passing the Child Safe Products Act.”


"Per and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS chemicals, are used widely in food packing such as pizza boxes and bread wrappers,” said Senator Brad Hoylman. “They’re known as ‘forever chemicals’ because they don’t break down and build up in the human body over time. At high enough levels, these chemicals have serious side effects, including decreased fertility, hormonal changes, weakened immune systems, increased cancer risk and growth and learning delays in children. New York should follow the lead of Washington State and pass my legislation (S.2000) to ban the use of PFAS chemicals in food packaging. The health and safety of our kids depend on it."


“When used in food packaging, harmful PFAS chemicals can leach out of the packaging and get into the food, people, compost, and the environment”, said Assemblymember Patricia Fahy, sponsor of A.4739. “That's why I carry legislation with Senator Brad Hoylman to ban PFAS in food-packaging and foodware. PFAS chemicals in food packaging can enter a human’s bloodstream by leaching into food that is consumed, as well as find its way into the environment through disposal. People in our state deserve safe drinking water free from toxic chemicals, and food packaging that does not expose them to hazardous substances.”


“We deserve the right to know what’s in our menstrual products,” said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal, co-sponsor of (A.164/S.2387). “Our bill to require that menstrual products be labeled will help empower consumers, who should not have to guess at the ingredients in the products they use in and on the intimate parts of their bodies, to make more informed choices.”


“We know what’s in the food we eat, the medicine we take, and the clothes we wear,” said Senator Roxanne Persaud, co-sponsor of A.164/S.2387. We, along with millions of consumers, have an absolute right to know what’s in our menstrual products, and our legislation will give consumers the power to make better, safer choices.”


 “New York’s parents deserve to know what is safe for their families, but right now they’re flying blind, said Kathy Curtis, Executive Director of Clean and Healthy New York and Co-leader of the JustGreen Partnership. “Toxic chemicals continue to be present in children's products, and families can't tell which products may contribute to their children's exposure to chemicals that can have lifelong health consequences. To make the dream of safe products for all children a reality, the Child Safe Products Act must be passed,” Curtis added.


“In the communities that we work in, families do not have the time or the finances to bypass all of the toxic products on store shelves,” said Cecil Corbin-Mark, Deputy Director of WE ACT For Environmental Justice and Co-Leader of the JustGreen Partnership. “Communities of color often face disproportionate harm from toxic chemicals in products, and New York must take action because all all children deserve safe products regardless of their zip code or their parents income.”


“The early years are a time of rapid growth and development so it is especially important to nurture and protect children during this phase of their life,” said Jessica Klos Shapiro, Director of Policy for the Early Care and Learning Council. The products and toys that children are exposed to on a regular basis must be free of harmful chemicals and foster the best environment for children to grow and thrive.”


“New York State is addressing the challenge of children’s health, head on,” said Karen Joy Miller, Huntington Breast Cancer Action Coalition, Inc. “The passage of the Child Safe Product Act is an important step to protect infants and children from unnecessary exposure to toxic chemicals. Children are uniquely vulnerable to even the smallest exposure, and it can cause negative health outcomes throughout a lifetime.”


Julie Tighe, President of the New York League of Conservation Voters, said, "The Child Safe Products Act is a long overdue step forward in protecting our children’s health.  Requiring disclosure of chemicals in children's products and banning the most hazardous chemicals from being used will keep children safe and reduce environmental toxins. We are proud to join our friends in the Just Green Partnership in thanking the legislature for passing this important legislation after many years of debate. We commend Senator Kaminsky and Assemblyman Englebright for their continued leadership on environmental health."    


“No one wants their children to wear or play with products containing toxins like asbestos, mercury and lead. If consumers do not know if a product contains a toxic chemical, they cannot protect their children.  Requiring manufacturers to provide this information, as would be required by the Child Safe Products Act, is just common sense,” said Eve Gartner, Staff Attorney at Earthjustice.


"Phasing out harmful and unnecessary toxic chemicals in children’s products will have a lasting effect on both the health of New York’s children and the environment," said Caitlin Ferrante, Conservation & Development Program Manager for the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter. "These chemicals have a way of eventually finding their way into the environment, be it through the air, water, or when these products eventually end up in the landfill. The Sierra Club applauds the Legislature for finally taking the much needed action to ensure New Yorkers are one step closer to a toxic-free future."


“With the passage of the Child Safe Products Act, the legislature has taken an important step to arm New Yorkers with the information they need about toxic chemicals in children’s products and to end some of the most egregious uses of toxic chemicals in those products,” said Avinash Kar, Director, State Health Policy, Natural Resources Defense Council.


“New business approaches that emphasize ingredient transparency are beneficial to companies, shoppers, and the environment”, said Meika Hollender, Co-founder & CEO of Sustain Natural. “It's important to know what's in products we use daily, and New York State should act on known hazards while supporting innovation.”


“The New York Sustainable Business Council represents thousands of businesses committed to the triple bottom line of social responsibility, environmental stewardship, and economic prosperity — also known as people-planet-profit,” said Bob Rossi, Director, New York Sustainable Business Council.  “The Child Safe Products Act cuts across all three tenets.  Not only would this bill protect our most vulnerable and reduce environmental contamination, it stands to strengthen our economy.  With the growing demand for non-toxic products, chemical disclosure will allow manufacturers and retailers to make better-informed decisions. Plus, the children we aim to protect are our future workforce; it is simply poor business practice to ignore this long term risk. Smarter chemical regulations will drive green technology innovation. We believe New York State can and should be a global leader in sustainable product manufacturing.”


“The Great Neck Breast Cancer Coalition applauds our NYS Legislators, Senator Kaminsky and Assembly Member Englebright, the Just Green Partnership advocates and NYS breast cancer coalitions for the passage of the Child Safe Products Act," said Laura Weinberg, President of GNBCC. “Finally parents of children 12 and under will be better informed on purchasing products without contaminants linked with breast cancer and other chronic diseases through the banning of chemicals of concern and the manufacturers’ disclosure of ingredients. This is a major win for children’s health in New York State.”


Liz Moran, Environmental Policy Director for the New York Public Interest Research Group said, "Unless and until a chemical can be proven safe, it shouldn't be used.  The public shouldn't have to wait until a child gets sick before action is taken.  This bill sets New York towards that path, and the public health will be safer for it. We thank the Legislature for their bold leadership in passing this bill and urge the Governor to swiftly sign this bill into law."


"Toxic chemicals should not be in children’s products like toys, clothing, or car seats, said Elie Ward, Director of Policy & Advocacy for NYS American Academy of Pediatrics. "We applaud the New York State Senate & Assembly for taking this important step today to protect our children from known toxins in the very products closest to their bodies.  Parents and caregivers need to know which products are just not safe to children because they pose chemical risks. This bill will help parents make those important choices." she added


“Toxic chemicals have absolutely no place in the homes of our children,” said Barry Cik, founder of Naturepedic Organic Mattresses. “Parents shouldn't have to worry about whether the toys their children play with and bedding they sleep on contain toxic chemicals. With this important legislation in New York State, we can build a healthier world without harmful chemicals, environmental toxins, or destructive business practices.”


About the Child Safe Products Act: the bill will set up an infrastructure within state government to identify chemicals of concern to which children may be particularly vulnerable, require children’s product makers to report when their products contain chemicals of concern to children’s health, and phase out dangerous chemicals from products offered for sale in the state. The Act will require action on harmful chemical classes, including organohalogens, bisphenols and per- and polyfluorinated chemicals.


Current federal laws and regulations fail to adequately address chemicals of high concern in products, making this action by New York State especially necessary to protect its residents. By passing this bipartisan bill, New York State is a national leader in requiring chemical use disclosure, and phasing out toxic chemicals in children’s products.

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