It's time for NYC to protect our children's  health

Children’s products containing toxic chemicals are for sale in New York City. These chemicals are dangerous, unnecessary, and pose health risks to children. They can cause cancer, trigger asthma, lower  IQ, and damage vital organs.


In December 2015, we released a report with Center for Environmental Health and WE ACT for Environmental Justice to document our project to purchase, in the five boroughs of New York City, products intended to be used by children on a daily basis and test them for the presence of some of the most hazardous chemicals. What we found should be troubling to all, especially parents and those who make policy in New York City.


We visited Jack’s World, Macy’s, Regine’s, Shopper’s World, Target, Toys”R”Us and several 99 cents stores in boroughs across New York City in June and September 2015 and tested a variety of toys, accessories, novelty products and apparel. Products were tested using a High Definition X-Ray Fluorescence Analyzer (HD-XRF). This analyzer has been determined by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission to have accuracy comparable to laboratory testing, and is accepted for determining compliance with the federal Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act.  We found:


  • Arsenic in two products:  shoes and a lunch box,

  • Antimony in five products: clothing, a necklace, an accessory, a purse and a  doll,

  • Cadmium in two products: a pencil holder school supply and an accessory,

  • Cobalt in jewelry and accessories,

  • Lead in four products: jewelry, accessories, and footwear.


New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito introduced a bill, Intro 803a, to address this pressing problem. In January, the Council held a hearing on the bill. Already, Albany, Suffolk, and Westchester counties have acted to protect their residents - more than 3.3 million people. It's time for New York City to join this group of leading governments and make being a parent a little easier, and protecting children's health.


More background

In 2014, manufacturers of children’s products reported  over 11,000 uses of toxic chemicals to the Washington State Department of the Ecology. In the same year, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection received reports from multiple manufacturers of children’s products about the use of BPA, arsenic, cadmium and mercury in products marketed to or intended for use by children.

New York City and New York State currently have no laws that require manufacturers to disclose the use of or ban many toxic chemicals in children’s products. This report’s findings clearly highlight the fact that some of the most dangerous chemicals are indeed in children’s products on the store shelves in New York City.This survey report, while not exhaustive, demonstrates that there are toxic heavy metals in a variety of children’s products sold at discount retailers, mid-priced big-box stores as well as high-end department stores. We know that there are thousands of such products because of self-reporting data from children’s products makers; this report shows that they are present on store shelves in New York City.


There is a wealth of growing scientific evidence linking chemicals in commonly-used children’s products to diseases and disorders of environmental origin. The incidence of these health impacts is on the rise. Children are uniquely vulnerable because they eat, drink and breathe more — pound for pound — than adults, put their hands and objects in their mouths more often, and are undergoing developmental stages that are sensitive to disruption from toxic chemicals.



Learn more: Read our full report (PDF)


Take action!

NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito is sponsor of Intro 803-a.


Tell her it’s time for the bill to get a vote!


Call today: 212-788-7210 


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