Kids to Senators: Don't Duck Reform, Protect Us from Toxic Chemicals!
(Albany) Children pulling a wagon filled with rubber duckies trooped through the halls of the Legislative Office Building and Capitol today. They delivered the duckies to each Senate office with this call: Don’t duck reform: Protect us from toxic chemicals. Pass S. 4614.
With less than two weeks left in Legislative Session, kids, parents, health advocates and consumer advocates are taking action to urge the NYS Senate to get toxic chemicals out of toys and other children’s products. Several states have already taken similar measures, including California, Maine, Minnesota, and Washington.
In Washington State, children’s product makers recently disclosed that over 5,000 types of children's products contain chemicals that can cause cancer, learning and developmental disabilities, asthma, obesity, and infertility. This information was generated as a result of a law similar to that being advanced in New York. S. 4614, introduced by freshman Long Island Republican Senator Phil Boyle, would identify high-hazard chemicals, prioritize certain chemicals for action, disclose their use in children's products, and ultimately phase them out in those applications.
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.”
“Senator Skelos and Senator Klein have the power to make sure the Child Safe Products Act gets a vote by the full Senate before they leave Albany on June 20th,” said Roger Downs, Conservation Director for the Sierra Club and father of two. “I’d like them to tell me which toxic chemicals they think it’s OK to be in my children’s toys, clothes and other necessities.”
“I’m here so we can get toxic chemicals out of children’s products and I can get more toys,” said Ananda Wilding, an 8-year-old who led the group of children. “Right now, my mom doesn’t know if she should buy me a toy I want or not. Toys should be safe for all kids.”
“As a mom with 15 years of experience as an environmental health advocate who holds a degree in environmental science, I find it deeply troubling that even I can’t tell which products are safe and which aren’t. The Child Safe Products Act would be a huge step in the right direction. We don’t need cadmium in jewelry, cobalt in pacifiers, or arsenic in underpants,” said Bobbi Chase Wilding, Deputy Director of Clean and Healthy New York.
“Toys should be objects that promote fun and happiness in children, not illness and death. Senators in Albany need to pass the Child Safe Products Act to protect all children, especially New York’s most vulnerable, from toxic chemicals, and free parents of New York State from the need to play toxicologists every time we step into a toy store,” said Cecil Corbin-Mark, Deputy Director of WE ACT for Environmental Justice and co-leader of the JustGreen Partnership.
The measure, sponsored by Assemblyman Bob Sweeney, passed the NYS Assembly by a wide margin with strong bipartisan support in April. Twenty-five Senators, including four Republicans, two Independent Democratic Conference members, and nineteen Democrats have co-sponsored the measure so far.
"The child care community in New York State is extremely committed to the health and safety of our children through tough regulations and a commitment to improving quality,” said Jessica Klos Shapiro, Senior Policy Associate, Early Care & Learning Council. “However, the presence of toxic chemicals in products that children come in contact with every day presents an unnecessary hazard that can easily be eliminated by the passage of this legislation.”
Given the glacial pace at which federal legislation moves, it’s up to the states to act to protect their own residents. New York is now in a position to do just that, by passing S. 4614. The bill also codifies New York’s participation in an Interstate Chemicals Clearinghouse (IC2), in which ten states share information about toxic chemicals and their safer alternatives. This Clearinghouse ensures that product makers disclose chemical use through a harmonized system, not a patchwork of regulation. This addresses an issue that has been a complaint of the business community for some time. The IC2 also leverages scarce state agency resources and eliminates duplicative work.