Children Lose in Game of Toxic “Hide and Seek”

New statewide report highlights products with toxic chemicals in kids’ clothes, jewelry, accessories and toys

Advocates call for urgent action in response to Chemical Crisis

(Albany) On the steps of the historic Million Dollar Staircase in the New York State Capitol, parents, advocates, and legislators stood side by side to call for action on bills to address toxic chemicals in consumer goods. They released a new report, Toxic Hide and Seek: Chemical Crisis in Children’s Products, featuring items purchased around the state, including new results from Schenectady County. The 64 products covered in the report contain antimony, arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury, some at alarmingly high levels.

The worst offenders were:

  • Charms and Angels DIY Bracelet sets bought at Ocean State Job Lots in Albany and Long Island contained charms with more than 200,000 parts per million cadmium and 5,000 parts per million antimony.

  • Pink Crush Sandals bought at Shopper’s World in New York City contained more than 100,000 parts per million lead and over 3,000 parts per million antimony in rhinestone decorations.

  • Hello Kitty Bowtie Necklace bought at Jack’s in New York City contained more than 70,000 parts per million lead and 1,000 parts per million antimony in rhinestones on the pendant.

  • “I ❤ NY” bag, also bought at Jack’s in New York City, contained over 15,000 parts per million lead in the zipper pull.

 

The advocates also cited recent revelations about water contamination by consumer product additive PFOA in Hoosick Falls and other locations, lead leaching from pipes in school drinking water fountains, formaldehyde in common children’s products, and triclosan in hand soap and other cleaners, to call for advancement of bills in the state legislature before it departs in two short weeks.

 

“Children are more sensitive to and are at an increased risk from chemical exposure. Currently, New York prohibits the use of dangerous chemicals on a chemical-by-chemical basis.  The President’s Cancer Panel reported that nearly 80,000 chemicals are used in the country today, many of which are unstudied and largely unregulated.  The Assembly has passed my legislation to protect children’s health from unnecessary toxic chemicals found in products designed for kids,” said Assemblymember Steve Englebright, Chair of the NYS Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee.

 

Senator Phil Boyle (R-4th Senate District), lead sponsor of toxic chemicals in children’s products legislation for the past four sessions said, "Parents have a right to know whether dangerous chemicals lurk in the products they buy for their children. This report shows that the marketplace does not fully provide for that right. We can no longer tolerate a system in which safe products exist side by side on store shelves with those that contain hidden hazards. It's time we passed sensible legislation to give parents the information they need to make smart, healthy choices."

 

“There is no excuse for the presence of dangerous chemicals in our consumer goods. Cadmium, antimony… these pose tremendous risks to consumers, and doubly so for children who will have larger reactions to smaller quantities. The recent report showing the level to which children’s products contain these toxic chemicals here in New York should be setting off alarms for my fellow legislators. We need immediate action, otherwise we are putting countless children at risk and allowing businesses to keep making harmful products,” said State Senator Tony Avella, Vice Chair of the NYS Senate Environmental Conservation Committee.

 

State Senator Brad Hoylman, Ranking Member of the NYS Senate Environmental Conservation Committee, said: "As a parent I deserve to know that the products I’m buying for my daughter are free from harmful chemicals. Unfortunately, as this stunning new report from Clean & Healthy New York shows, our state’s incomplete patchwork of chemical safety laws have compromised our ability to prevent dangerous chemicals like lead or arsenic from ending up in common household items. Albany can and should do better for our kids. That’s why I’m a proud sponsor of the Child Safe Products Act, which would allow for more effective regulation of consumer goods meant for children."

“It’s time for product makers and the chemical industry to stop playing games with our children’s health. We know products with toxic chemicals are hiding in plain sight on store shelves, and in community after community, we’ve demonstrated this. New York’s families deserve better. They deserve action by their elected officials,” said Kathy Curtis, Executive Director, Clean and Healthy New York.

 

“If California, Washington, Maine, and other states can find the way to pass legislation to protect kids of all incomes then why do parents in New York State have to wait for more than eight years to get their kids protected from toxic chemicals in children’s products?” asked Cecil Corbin-Mark, Deputy Director of WE ACT for Environmental Justice. “It is past time for the NYS legislature to pass a bill and for the governor to sign it into law.”

“It’s 2016, for goodness sake! The health risks to children of these dangerous chemicals have been well documented for a long time. Chemicals that cause cancer and neurodevelopmental problems have no place in products like these that kids use every day,” said Ansje Miller, Eastern States Director for the Center for Environmental Health. “This report demonstrates that companies haven’t been able to clean up their act voluntarily, so it’s time for the legislature to show leadership in providing a safe marketplace for children and families.”

“No family should be faced with a game of toxic hide and seek when providing for their children. Families with the fewest resources are hit hardest, already disproportionately hit with dangerous chemicals in their daily environments. It’s time for the NYS Senate to act and put our families first,” said Aaron Mair, Sierra Club National President.

“The alarming findings from across the state compiled in Toxic Hide and Seek have confirm that action is needed to protect the health of New York’s families,” said Christopher Goeken, Director of Public Policy for the New York League of Conservation Voters. “Toxic chemicals have no place in children’s toys, and they should not be on store shelves for sale.  Parents deserve the right to know what dangers are lurking in the products they bring home so they can make informed decisions about their families’ health.”

"Parents incorrectly assume that laws require children’s products to be safe, and are routinely shocked to find out how many dangerous substances are still perfectly legal. It is impossible and inappropriate to expect parents to research every item their child handles. As the mother of two young girls and a cancer survivor myself, legislation that would protect children from toxic toys is long overdue," said Dorian Solot, parent in Albany, NY.

With seven days remaining in the 2016 legislative session, there is still ample time for the two houses of the New York State Legislature to reach an agreement and send a bill to the Governor’s desk for his signature.

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Read the report (PDF)

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