Diverse Coalition Appeals to Governor Cuomo:

Ring in the New Year by Protecting Kids' Health

January 7, 2016


(Albany) With the New Year upon us, 69 groups asked Governor Cuomo to grant their wish for 2016: a strong law that protects children from toxic chemicals. The organizations sent a letter to Governor Cuomo, asking him to invest in children's health by including a Child Safe Products Act and implementation funding in his 2016-17 draft budget now under development. The Governor included passage of the Child Safe Products Act in his 2015 Opportunity Agenda, and the issue enjoys widespread bipartisan support. The Assembly has passed legislation for the last four years, and 42 of 63 Senators backed a matching policy, but it died each year in the Senate.


Manufacturer reporting to the states of Washington and Maine, and testing conducted by government agencies and advocates, demonstrates that use of toxic chemicals in children's products continues to be widespread. Washington State released a report in November that found antimony in 72% of children's products tested, lead in 48%, cobalt in 38%, arsenic in 34%, cadmium in 14%, and mercury in 8%. A report from three co-signers of the letter released yesterday found toxic metals in a dozen children’s products in New York City.

Chemicals like these can cause learning and developmental disabilities, cancer, organ damage, and infertility. Scientific and medical associations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Endocrine Society, Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics, and the Society of Toxicologists have issued statements recognizing the harm chemicals in products can do to human health.

“As a grandma, I ask Governor Cuomo to do everything within your power to secure the passage of a Child Safe Products Act. Since I was diagnosed with breast cancer nearly 30 years ago, we have witnessed countless stories of the hardships of a cancer diagnosis. Removing harmful chemicals from children’s products is necessary. Protecting the health of our children is our shared priority,” said Karen Joy Miller, president of Huntington Breast Cancer Action Coalition, Inc.


“I’ll never forget the day my daughter Mira first showed symptoms of a brain tumor,” said Christine Brouwer, founder of Mira’s Movement. “It was Christmas day, December 25, 2005. She was 1 year old. She coughed and grabbed her head and said, ‘head hurts.’ One month later, January 20, we discovered why. She had an aggressive brain tumor. In the initial shock and extreme sadness that followed, all I could think was, ‘How does this happen? How does a 1 year old get brain cancer?’ As we continued through 27 months of many treatments before she died in April 2008, I learned about all the things actually KNOWN to cause cancer that are in everyday children's products. All I could ask myself was, ‘Why is this allowed to happen?’ Why would anyone allow carcinogens in children's car seats and crib mattresses and changing tables? All the places that their little, vulnerable bodies spend the most time? Ten years later, I understand. Companies are doing this, and nobody is stopping them. But Governor Cuomo could do much to halt this growing public health crisis by advancing a Child Safe Products Act in next year’s budget, and I implore him to do so. No toddler should have to suffer what Mira suffered, and no parent should have to go through what we as her parents did.”


“Governor Cuomo stepping forward as the leader to accomplish real protection of children from toxic chemicals in the things they use, wear and play with every day would be like Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year’s Eve all rolled into one. He has already shown leadership on many environmental issues,” said Kathy Curtis, executive director of Clean and Healthy New York. “Better than Santa bringing toys would be Cuomo making sure the gifts are toxic-free, and that is our Holiday wish.”


“Several of Governor Cuomo’s recent decisions have reinforced his commitment to leading New York's transition to a more sustainable economy," said Laura Ornstein, coordinator of the New York State Sustainable Business Council. "Including a Child Safe Products Act in the budget is an opportunity for the Governor to bring the legislature together on an issue all agree is of utmost importance and take the necessary steps towards a marketplace that doesn't harm consumers.”


Saima Anjam, environmental health director at Environmental Advocates of New York said, “For too many years the Skelos-led state Senate failed children and families. Parents want and expect their public officials to support ridding children’s products of toxins like arsenic, mercury and lead. We appeal to Governor Cuomo to resolve to make 2016 the year all of us come together and pass the Child Safe Products Act in the SFY 2016-17 Budget.”


“We’re pleased that the Governor included passage of the Child Safe Products Act in his 2015 Opportunity Agenda,” said Erin Switalski, executive director of Women's Voices for the Earth. “He understands that children are uniquely sensitive to harmful chemicals. Their developmental processes are easily disrupted, their bodies are smaller and absorb more chemicals, and their bodies’ ability to process and get rid of toxic chemicals is significantly lower than adults. We are hopeful that he will find a way to move the Child Safe Products Act forward. Our children simply can’t wait any longer."

"Has common sense gone the way of the horse and buggy?  Why, in any scenario would we allow our precious children to play with toxic toys?   What is more natural then a child playing with his/her toys and having their minds stimulated?  To introduce health threatening chemicals and toxins into the equation that impede their brain development and health is criminal," said Dr. Bonnie Sager, of Huntington C.A.L.M. "We appeal to Governor Cuomo to save the day by providing resources and introducing strong, protective language in his 2016-2017 Executive Budget to address this situation," Sager added.   


Signers of the letter (list in formation):


The Adirondack Council - Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments - American Academy of Pediatrics, New York State - Committee On Environmental Health, AAP NY Chapter 2 - American Lung Association in New York - Arnhold Institute for Global Health - Babylon Breast Cancer Coalition - Beautycounter - Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester - Breast Cancer Fund - Breast Cancer Options - Brentwood/Bay Shore Breast Cancer Coalition - Capital District Against Fracking - Capital District Child Care Council - Center for Environmental Health - Center for Health, Environment and Justice - Child Care Council, Inc. - Child Care Resource Center, Schoharie County Community Action Program - Citizens Campaign for the Environment – Citizens’ Environmental Coalition - Clean and Healthy New York - Early Care and Learning Council - Environmental Advocates of New York - Faces of Astarte - Family Planning Advocates of New York State - Great Neck Breast Cancer Coalition - Green Inside and Out - Greenpeace - Healthy Schools Network - Hudson River Sloop Clearwater - Huntington Breast Cancer Action Coalition - Huntington CALM - Icahn School of Medicine At Mount Sinai - Learning Disabilities Association of New York State - Learning Disabilities Association of Western New York - Long Island Neighborhood Network - Long Island Progressive Coalition - Mira’s Movement - Moms Clean Air Force - Moms for a Non-Toxic New York - Natural Resources Defense Council - New York Lawyers for the Public Interest - New York League of Conservation Voters - New York Public Interest Research Group - New York State Breast Cancer Network - New York State Coalition for Children's Behavioral Health - New York State Nurses Association - New York State Professional Fire Fighters Association - New York State Sustainable Business Council - Parents Against Lindane - Planned Parenthood Advocates of New York - Prevention Is The Cure - Quiet Communities - Seventh Generation – Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter - Southern Adirondack Child Care Network - Stupid Cancer - Institute for Health and the Environment, SUNY Albany School of Public Health - Occupational Health Clinical Center, Department of Family Medicine, Upstate Medical University, - Program in Science, Technology and Society, Vassar College – WE ACT for Environmental Justice - Women’s Voices for the Earth


Read the full letter here.

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