Governor Cuomo Signs Child Safe Products Act Into Law
New York families celebrate final victory of the 2019 legislative session
(Albany, NY – February 7, 2020) Today, Governor Cuomo signed the Child Safe Products Act (S.501-B Kaminsky / A. 6296-A Englebright) into law. The move marks the fulfillment of a decade-long campaign by 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. The law will require manufacturers to disclose chemicals of concern in children’s products and restrict the most toxic, while authorizing the State to add chemicals to disclose and restrict by regulation. The bill 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.
The delay in the bill's signing was attributable to chapter amendment negotiations to refine the law for more effective implementation. That process resulted in one significant new provision – the creation of a Children's Product Safety Council to advise the Department of Environmental Conservation about which “high priority” chemicals to restrict, and the scope of those restrictions.
While toxic chemicals can affect anyone, babies and children are particularly vulnerable to their impacts. Chemicals can alter childhood development, and can contribute to cancer, asthma, infertility, developmental disabilities, allergies, diabetes and more. Children in frontline communities face impact that is even more disproportionate. The Child Safe Products Act requires manufacturers to report the presence of chemicals of concern and phase out the most toxic chemicals such as benzene, chlorinated tris, and asbestos, while simultaneously establishing a mechanism for reporting and banning dangerous chemicals from children’s products in perpetuity. New York State is among the first, and by far the most populous state to take such action, joining Washington, Oregon, Vermont, and Maine.
“We’ve worked for over a decade to establish an infrastructure to make sure the problem of toxic chemicals in children’s products is resolved for once in for all, and the Child Safe Products Act does just that. It’s a model to build upon for other product sectors. We applaud all of the leaders who had the courage and foresight to ensure this policy’s enactment, especially Governor Andrew Cuomo, Senator Todd Kaminsky and Assemblyman Steve Englebright” said Kathleen A. Curtis, LPN, Executive Director of Clean and Healthy New York and Co-leader of the JustGreen Partnership.
“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 are disproportionately harmed by toxic chemicals in products. Governor Cuomo once said that ‘the other states look to New York for the progressive direction.’ By signing the Child Safe Products Act, this Governor will ensure that all children have safe products, regardless of their zip code or parents' income and he'll once again illuminate the path to progressive action for other states to follow.”
"I remember full well the worry and apprehension felt every time my daughters left the house, but the potential dangers lurking in the home create another level of fear for a parent. With these tough new standards, New Yorkers will finally have the peace of mind knowing their children are not being unwittingly exposed to toxic chemicals," said Governor Cuomo.
“There are countless toys on the market that pose a serious health risk to children and need to be regulated,” said Senator Todd Kaminsky, Chair of the New York State Senate Environmental Conservation Committee. “This bill will dramatically reduce that risk and allow parents to make informed decisions when shopping for their kids. I’m proud to sponsor this bill and I thank the Governor for this critical support.”
“Children are more sensitive to and are at increased risk from chemical exposure. The passage of this legislation is an important step to protect children from unnecessary health hazards posed by dangerous chemicals found in children’s products. As the Assembly has passed this legislation for many years, I am delighted that this work has finally resulted in a new law to protect New York’s children,” said Assemblyman Steve Englebright, Chair, New York State Assembly Standing Committee on Environmental Conservation.
“Studies increasingly show that dangerous chemicals in the environment can trigger diseases in our children - and some of the statistics are alarming. Children are the most vulnerable members of our society and we must fight to protect their health by regulating products that can harm them. Policy-driven market transparency is a growing trend that enables consumers to choose wisely. It’s good to see this policy finally enacted, and with such broad bipartisan support. Ensuring protection of our most vulnerable residents is something we can all agree upon,” said Senator Phil Boyle, former Child Safe Products Act sponsor.
“Because children chew and otherwise destroy their toys, clothing and gear, they are at high risk of exposure to toxic chemicals in their products, including cadmium in toys, asbestos in talc, and formaldehyde in shampoo. They can ingest, inhale, and absorb these toxic chemicals,” said Philip J. Landrigan, MD, Director of the Program in Global Public Health and the Common Good at Boston College. “New York has long been a pioneer in public health. As the federal government refuses to take action to protect children’s health, New York continues to lead the way by enacting the Child Safe Products Act,” Landrigan added.
“No one wants their children to wear or play with products containing toxins like asbestos, mercury and lead. If consumers don't know if a product contains a toxic chemical, they cannot protect their children. Thank you Governor Cuomo for requiring manufacturers to provide this basic information to New Yorkers,” said Eve Gartner, staff attorney at Earthjustice.
"The Great Neck Breast Cancer Coalition (GNBCC) is thrilled that the Child Safe Products Act has been passed through the New York Senate and Assembly and signed into law by Governor Cuomo," said Laura Weinberg, President of the GNBCC. "This law will empower parents and teachers to purchase safer children's products since bad-acting chemicals like formaldehyde will be banned and manufacturers will need to publicly disclose numerous chemicals of concern. In turn, since research has shown that early life exposures may contribute to onset of adult disease, this law may reduce the incidence of chronic diseases, such as breast cancer."
Beth Fiteni, Director of Green Inside and Out said, “It is one thing to say we want to protect our children, and another to do something about it. I am proud of New York State for taking a significant action to empower parents to protect their children from harmful chemicals in everyday products."
“The 6,000 pediatricians across New York State applaud Governor Cuomo for signing the Child Safe Product Act. His signature will help protect our children from known toxins in the very products closest to their bodies,” said Elie Ward, MSW, Director of Policy & Advocacy, NYS American Academy of Pediatrics. “Until today, a product containing toxic chemicals could rest side by side on a store shelf with one containing only inert materials. Now parents and all adults who care about children’s safety will be able to make informed choices about all infant, toddler and children’s products. This a giant step toward making our state a safer place for all children.”
“Thank you to Governor Cuomo for signing the Child Safe Products Act into law and thank you to the Legislature of New York for this landmark decision,” said Penny Fujiko Willgerodt, Executive Director of the Prospect Hill Foundation. “New York State leads the nation now in making the world safer for children. I am so proud to be the board chair of Clean and Healthy New York, founded by Kathy Curtis 13 years ago with Bobbi Wilding. Grateful to all our environmental health and justice colleagues and advocates for joining forces with Clean and Healthy New York to win this decade-long struggle.”
Rich Schrader, NY Policy Director at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) said, “Signing this legislation into law is a victory for all New Yorkers, especially our kids. It will eliminate some of the most harmful chemicals lurking in children’s products and equip parents with the resources they need to best protect their families. Our children’s health and safety should always be priority number one – this new law helps make sure that it is.”
"After pushing for comprehensive toxic chemical reform in children's products for over a decade, the Sierra Club applauds Governor Cuomo for signing the Child Safe Products Act into law," said Caitlin Ferrante, Conservation & Development Program Manager of the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter. "New Yorkers can breathe easier knowing that harmful and toxic chemicals will have to be disclosed, and that the worst of the worst will eventually be phased out of children's products in the Empire State. The Sierra Club would like to thank Governor Cuomo, Senator Kaminsky, and Assemblyman Englebright for their leadership, dedication, and commitment to this issue. We will be protecting not only our families and communities, but also our air, water, and remaining wild places with the signing of this legislation into law."
"The Child Safe Products Act will protect future generations of New Yorkers from unnecessary exposure to toxic chemicals. Customers today are demanding safer products for their children and this new law will help to promote more sustainable and healthier manufacturing processes. It will enhance public health and promote environmental stewardship in all communities throughout our state," said Christine Appah, Senior Staff Attorney for New York Lawyers in the Public Interest.
Josh Klainberg, Senior Vice 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 and removing toxins from our environment. That's why we included it in our Environmental Scorecard and State Policy Agenda for years. Requiring the 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 thank Governor Cuomo for signing this bill after many years of negotiation. We commend Senator Kaminsky and Assemblyman Englebright for their continued leadership on environmental health."
"Passing the Child Safe Products Act is major step forward for protecting children’s health and it makes good business sense. It protects shareholders, workers, and companies’ brand name, while restoring consumer confidence in product safety. This legislation will drive innovation and lead to greater profits and job growth for responsible New York State businesses. Our businesses are proud to stand in appreciation of the Governor and the New York State legislature for passing this historic legislation," said David Levine, President, American Sustainable Business Council.
“The New York Sustainable Business Council represents thousands of businesses committed to the triple bottom line of social responsibility, environmental stewardship, and economic prosperity,” said Bob Rossi, Director, New York Sustainable Business Council. “The Child Safe Products Act cuts across all three tenets. It not only protects our most vulnerable and reduces environmental contamination, it will strengthen our economy. Smarter chemical regulations will drive green tech innovation. Chemical disclosure will allow our retailers to meet the growing demand for non-toxic products. Plus, the children we aim to protect are our future workforce. We thank Governor Cuomo and the leaders in our legislature for seeing this bill through.”
In his 2019 State of the State address, Governor Cuomo promised to create healthy communities in New York State by protecting New Yorkers from unknown exposure to toxic chemicals. Signing the Child Safe Products Act is the latest in a string of legislation in pursuit of that goal: The governor signed legislation banning PFAS in firefighting foam, requiring ingredient disclosures in period products, and banning 1,4-dioxane in cleaners, shampoo and body wash.
The measure was the flagship policy of the JustGreen Partnership, a coalition of over 50 groups representing over a million New Yorkers working for environmental health and justice for New York’s people and communities.
Clean and Healthy New York works for safer chemicals, a sustainable economy, and a healthier world. It co-leads with WE ACT for Environmental Justice the JustGreen Partnership, a coalition of over 50 organizations working for environmental health and justice for New York’s people and communities, and leads the national Getting Ready for Baby campaign working to ensure all baby and children’s products are free of harmful chemicals.
The JustGreen Partnership is a coalition of about 50 groups representing nearly a million New Yorkers, all working together for environmental health and justice for New York’s people and communities. The Partnership focuses on transforming the policies that govern how chemicals are regulated or marketed in the great State of New York. Through our work, we are building a better movement for health and environmental justice in New York State.