Over 5,000 Children’s Products Contain Toxic Chemicals of Concern to Kids’ Health, Companies Report to Washington State

Advocates Call for NYS Senate to Pass the Child Safe Products Act


Albany, NY– Over 5,000 children’s products contain toxic chemicals linked to cancer, hormone disruption, and reproductive problems according to reports filed with the Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology).  Groups in the JustGreen Partnership co-released an analysis of the reports by the Washington Toxics Coalition and Safer States, which found that makers of kids’ products reported using 41 of the chemicals identified by Washington State as a concern for children’s health, including toxic metals such as cadmium, mercury, and antimony. Major manufacturers who reported using the chemicals in their products include Walmart, Gap, Gymboree, Hallmark, and H & M. The chemical reports are required under Washington State’s Children’s Safe Products Act of 2008.


The reports cover children’s products sold in Washington State from June 1, 2012 to March 1, 2013.Major findings from the reports include:


  • More than 5,000 products have been reported as containing a chemical on WA’s list of 66 Chemicals of High Concern to Children.

  • Products reported so far include children’s clothing and footwear, personal care products, baby products, toys, car seats, and art supplies.

  • Toxic metals such as mercury, cadmium, cobalt, antimony, and molybdenum were reported, with cobalt being the metal most often used. 

  • Other chemicals reported include phthalates, and solvents like ethylene glycol and methyl ethyl ketone.


“The data from Washington tells a chilling story for families nationwide, and here in New York: store shelves remain full of toxic chemicals that we know are a concern for children’s health,” said Bobbi Chase Wilding, Deputy Director of Clean and Healthy New York. “Washington State has shown how important requiring reporting is.  To truly protect children, manufacturers need to identify and implement safer ways to make their products and stop using harmful chemicals.  It’s time for New York to be lead – the Senate must act swiftly to pass the Child Safe Products Act.”


New York legislators are considering legislation similar to Washington’s.  The NYS Assembly passed the Child Safe Products Act, A. 6328 sponsored by Assemblyman Bob Sweeney (D-Lindenhurst), as part of their Earth Day package on April 23rd.  Senator Phil Boyle (R-Babylon) introduced matching legislation on April 15th.  The bill would require companies to disclose their use of heavy metals (including cadmium, cobalt, mercury, antimony and molybdenum), benzene and chlorinated Tris in children’s products.  A year after disclosure, companies would be required to stop selling children’s products containing those chemicals in New York State.


Senator Boyle said, “We need stricter regulations to ensure that our children's products are free of dangerous toxic chemicals. Our Child Safe Products Act calls for a method of identifying chemicals that are potentially harmful to children, notifying the public, and discontinuing their use.”


Assemblyman Sweeney said, “Parents are not aware that some of the products they give their children are made with toxic chemicals. Our legislation lifts the veil, requires the most dangerous chemicals to be removed and provides for the disclosure of products in which other dangerous chemicals are used. Manufacturers will feel the public pressure to switch to safe alternatives. I am proud that the Assembly passed this bill with overwhelming support, and look forward to its passage in the Senate this year.”


David Levine, CEO of the American Sustainable Business Council which, along with its member organizations represents over 165,000 businesses, including 25,000 in New York, said “Passing the Child Safe Products Act just makes good business sense. It protects shareholders, workers, and company brand name, while restoring consumer confidence in product safety, which will lead to greater profit and business and job growth.”


Cecil Corbin-Mark, Deputy Director of WE ACT for Environmental Justice and co-leader of the Just Green Partnership said, “Low income communities and communities of color across New York are lucky to have leaders like Senator Boyle and Assemblyman Sweeney. The Child Safe Products Act that they introduced will put an end to toxic toys on the shelves of 99 cents stores in our neighborhoods.”


“It’s time for companies selling in New York to come clean and reveal the use of harmful chemicals in their products,” said Russ Haven, Legislative Counsel for NYPIRG. “What’s sold in Washington State isn’t necessarily sold in New York.  Parents and policymakers deserve to know what harmful chemicals are lurking in homes. We urge the State Legislature to protect kids and pass the Child Safe Products Act.”


"The fact that over 5,000 products targeted for children ages 12 and under contain toxic chemicals is extremely alarming," said Caitlin Pixley, Conservation Associate of the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter.  "Not only are these chemicals finding their way into our homes and bodies, but at some point in their life-cycles, these chemicals will end up in our air, water, and natural places.  Our children and our environment should not have to bear the brunt of our broken chemical policies.  Washington State has taken a giant step forward in passing their Children's Safe Products Act of 2008 and it is time for New York to follow that lead and build on comprehensive chemical policy reform here in the Empire State."


Karen Joy Miller of the Huntington Breast Cancer Action Coalition and Laura Weinberg of the Great Neck Breast Cancer Coalition said, "There is an ongoing effort to bring current science-based information regarding toxic environmental exposures to the community enabling them to make healthy decisions for their families. The Child Safe Products Act is an important step toward informing consumers about the chemicals that are contained in products used by their children. As the community partners working with Principle Investigators Susan Teitelbaum, PhD, Associate Professor and Jia Chen, ScD, Professor, at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, we are thoroughly convinced that chemical exposure during sensitive windows of susceptibility (WOS) place the most vulnerable of our population, namely children, at risk.”


“The State of Washington has taken the first step to protect its children from toxic chemicals by this required reporting; the next step will remove the toxins from kids products. The question is how long will we have to wait for NY kids to get the same protection,” said Barbara Warren, Executive Director, Citizens' Environmental Coalition. “Now the Senate needs to pass the Child Safe Products Act.”


“The Washington experience shows these reporting programs can work without being too burdensome on business,” said Sarah Doll, Director of Safer States. “At least seven additional states are considering implementing similar programs on the extent of chemical use in children’s products in their state. Critical in these proposals are requirements that companies begin looking at safer ways to make their products and an eventual phase-out of the use of harmful chemicals.”  


A full analysis of Washington State’s chemical use reports are available at http://www.watoxics.org/chemicalsrevealedA searchable database of chemical use reports filed with the Washington State Department of Ecology is available at http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/swfa/cspa/search.html.

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