Albany, NY – Independent testing commissioned by the Center for Environmental Health (CEH) and released in New York by the JustGreen Partnership found harmful flame retardant chemicals in children’s chairs, couches and other kids’ furniture purchased from Walmart, Target, Kmart, Toys”R”Us/Babies“R”Us, buybuy Baby and other major retailers throughout the U.S. and Canada. Many of the items found with flame retardants are designed with colorful children’s characters, including Disney Princesses, Nickelodeon’s Dora the Explorer, Marvel Comics’ Spiderman and others. Fire safety scientists say that flame retardant chemicals, which have been linked to cancer, hormone disruption, infertility and other serious health problems, do not provide fire safety benefits in furniture.
“Most parents would never suspect that their children could be exposed to toxic flame retardant chemicals when they sit on a Mickey Mouse couch, but our report shows that children’s foam furniture can carry hidden health hazards,” said CEH’s Judy Levin, co-author of the report “Playing on Poison” released today. “Companies that sell these products need to know that parents want safer products made without these harmful chemicals.”
In July and August, CEH, JustGreen Partners and allies purchased 42 items of children’s furniture from retailers in 13 states and Canada, including three from New York – two from the Albany area and one from New York City. Items were sent to Duke University researcher Dr. Heather Stapleton, one of the country’s foremost researchers on testing for flame retardant chemicals in consumer products, for laboratory analysis.
“I’m tired of saying ‘no’ to my girls when they want something fun – like one of these chairs – because there are toxic chemicals lurking in them, unlabeled and invisible. It makes them sad, and it makes me mad,” said Bobbi Chase Wilding, Deputy Director for Clean and Healthy New York, who was joined at the news conference by her two daughters, ages 8 and 3. “It’s not my fault, and it’s not their fault – retailers like buybuy Baby and Babies”R”Us and their suppliers like Disney brands need to take responsibility and ensure all products made and sold for young children are safe and healthy.”
Dr. Stapleton’s analysis found four flame retardant chemicals (including two chemicals that are mixtures of various flame retardants) in 38 of 42 products tested. Two products, including one in New York, contained more than one chemical. The chemicals found were:
- Firemaster 550 (found in 22 items): a mixture of four chemicals; studies have linked exposure to Firemaster 550 with obesity and disruption of the bodies’ natural hormone functioning. Hormone altering effects are troubling in children’s products, since children’s developing bodies are especially vulnerable to hormonal changes. Two chairs purchased in New York contained this chemical mixture.
- TCPP (Tris, 15 items): animal studies have linked exposure to TCPP to genetic damage and changes in the length of the menstrual cycle. One chair purchased in New York contained TCPP.
- TDCPP (chlorinated Tris, 2 items) is identified as a chemical known to cause cancer by the state of California and the National Research Council. Studies have also linked exposures to genetic damage, effects on fertility and natural hormones, and damage to developing embryos. Health concerns forced companies to remove TDCPP from children’s pajamas in the 1970’s yet it is still used today in furniture and other products. One chair purchased in New York contained TDCPP in addition to the Firemaster 550 blend noted above.
- Butylated Triphenyl Phosphate (1 item): According to the EPA, health concerns associated with exposures to Butylated Triphenyl Phosphate, a mixture of four chemicals, include decreased fertility and abnormal menstrual cycles.
“The incidence of learning disabilities and related impairments such as autism is increasing at an alarming rate, while at the same time we learn more and more about neurotoxic chemicals in products used every day with and around children,” said Stephen Boese, Executive Director of the Learning Disabilities Association of New York State. “We must leave no stone unturned in addressing this epidemic and assure that all products used by children are safe, and that corporate profits don’t trump our children’s health and safety.”
"The laboratory analysis doesn't lie: Products purchased at well-known retailers and carrying a trusted brand name likely contain toxic chemicals that can make kids sick," said NYPIRG Legislative Counsel Russ Haven. "Parents are shopping in the dark when they buy children's products and the only way forward is to ban the use of toxic chemicals in children's and household consumer products."
Children are more vulnerable to toxic flame retardant chemicals than adults because of their behaviors and physical needs. Children put their hands in their mouths often, and touch whatever is near them. Infants and toddlers crawl and play where dust containing high levels of flame retardants settles in homes, daycares and schools. A (2011) study from UC Berkeley’s Center for Environmental Research found that toddlers carry an average three times higher levels of flame retardants in their bodies than the levels found in their mothers. Other recent studies show that children of color and children from low-income communities have higher levels of flame retardant chemicals in their bodies than levels found in white children.
"I was horrified to discover that the Disney Princess chair I bought in New York had high levels of a chemical that have been linked to obesity and hormone disruption," said Ansje Miller, Eastern States Director for the Center for Environmental Health. "The kids that these chairs are designed for are at a vulnerable time in their development and I shudder to think at how these chemicals are affecting their health throughout their lifetimes."
“Shame on Disney for selling children’s Princess, Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse chairs containing toxic flame retardants,” said Mike Schade, Markets Campaign Coordinator with the Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ). “Parents should be able to trust that Disney products are safe, not toxic. We shouldn’t have to worry about our little princes and princess being exposed to poisonous chemicals. It’s time for Disney to make our dreams come true and eliminate these unnecessary dangerous chemicals.”
Flame retardant chemicals are used in these products despite their lack of efficacy largely due to TB 117, an outdated, decades-old California flammability standard that focused on requiring foam inside furniture to withstand a small open flame. This approach fails to meet real world conditions, since in a fire the outside fabric ignites first. Fire safety scientists say that once fabric ignites, the fire will be too large to be controlled by the chemical flame retardants used in foam – thus rendering the chemicals virtually useless for fire safety. California has proposed a new flammability rule, TB 117-2013, slated to go into effect on January 1, 2014, which requires furniture exteriors to be flame resistant, and exempts children’s products as they are not sources of ignition for house fires. CEH and its partner organizations expect many companies will make the switch to safer, flame-retardant free products quickly. However, as the results of this study show, it is unclear whether these benefits will reach across the country to products sold in New York.
For that reason, and because the new California regulation does not ban the use of flame retardants in foam, JustGreen Partners called for the following actions:
- New York State must pass and implement the Child Safe Products Act, which passed in the Assembly 101-30, and which ended the 2013 session with 37 of 63 Senate co-sponsors.
- Baby product retailers, especially market leaders buybuy Baby and Babies”R”Us must establish and enforce chemicals management policies that ensure all products on their store shelves – physical or on-line – are safe for families, as called for by the Getting Ready for Baby campaign (www.gettingready4baby.org)
- Parents should express their outrage to product makers, retailers and policymakers, while taking steps to keep toxic chemicals away from their children by avoiding products made with polyurethane foam.
- Congress must act to address the now-broken overarching chemicals management law, the Toxic Substance Control Act, and enact new, strong legislation to keep toxic chemicals out of the marketplace that should never have been approved to begin with.
“Government allows corporations to deceive parents,” said Saima Anjam of Environmental Advocates of New York. “Too many parents are unaware that they are bringing dangerous chemicals into their homes because they are hidden where we’d least suspect: toys, crib mattresses and children’s clothing. We deserve broad reform, like the Child Safe Products Act, to become law so we can start to turn off the toxic tap.”
The JustGreen Partnership is a collaboration of 50 organizations across New York State working for environmental health and justice for New York’s people and communities. Partners include Clean and Healthy New York, WE ACT for Environmental Justice, Center for Environmental Health, the New York Public Interest Research Group, Huntington Breast Cancer Action Coalition, American Sustainable Business Council, Learning Disabilities Association of New York State, New York State United Teachers, New York State Nurses Association, Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter and Environmental Advocates of New York. Learn more at www.just-green.org
Copies of the report are available at http://www.ceh.org/news-events/press-releases/content/playing-on-poisons-childrens-furniture-found-with-harmful-flame-retardant-chemicals/
Over 5,000 Children’s Products Contain Toxic Chemicals of Concern to Kids’ Health, Companies Report to Washington StateAdvocates 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. Read more...
A new peer-reviewed study published today in Environmental Science and Technology shows a carcinogen has been used to replace banned toxic flame retardants in many couches sampled in New York and across the United States. The chemical, a chlorinated Tris known as TDCPP, was removed from children's pajamas in 1977 and has been found in many infant -care products. The toxic flame retardant was the subject of a proposed legislative ban in children's products in New York in 2012, but failed to pass the Senate in the final hours of session. All four couch samples submitted by New Yorkers contained flame retardants: three contained TDCPP, and one contained pentaBDE.Read more...
Grisanti Bill Would Ban Cancer-Causing Chemical in Children’s Products
New York Poised to Become a National Leader
Earlier today, the New York State Senate Environmental Conservation Committee voted unanimously to report a bill, S. 6080 sponsored by Senator Mark Grisanti (R-Buffalo), that would ban a hazardous chemical in children’s products. The Assembly unanimously passed the matching legislation, sponsored by Assemblyman Robert Sweeney (D-Lindenhurst), earlier this spring. If enacted, New York State would become the first in the nation to restrict the use of this chemical.
TDCPP, or “Tris,” was voluntarily pulled from children’s pajamas in the 1970s after it was shown to mutate DNA. The State of California declared it a probable carcinogen in 2011. The World Health Organization, National Cancer Institute, National Research Council and Consumer Product Safety Commission call it a health hazard. TDCPP was found in 36% of children’s products, as reported in a May 2011 peer-reviewed study. 80% of foam from children’s products purchased in fall 2011 contained TDCPP.
“New York State has the opportunity to be a leader in protecting children’s health, by passing S. 6080, just as it was a leader in real fire prevention by requiring the use of fire-safe cigarettes. We now face the worst of both worlds: Tris and other toxic chemicals don’t prevent fires, and they do threaten our children’s health and poison our environment,” said Kathy Curtis, Executive Director of Clean and Healthy New York “The Senate should act quickly to pass S. 6080, and send this to the Governor for his signature.”
Groups Praise Bi-Partisan Advancement of Bill Through Assembly Codes Committee
(Albany) Parents, businesses, health care professionals, health advocates, environmental groups and others praised the bi-partisan vote (17-5) for advancement of A. 3141a, known as the Child Safe Products Act, through the Assembly Codes Committee today. The legislation, sponsored by Assemblyman Bob Sweeney, creates a framework for identifying and addressing toxic chemicals used in children's products. Recent studies have shown ongoing widespread use in children's products of chemicals that can cause cancer, increase the likelihood of learning disabilities, disrupt hormones, and mutate DNA.
Organizations in the JustGreen Partnership, a diverse health-based coalition, agree that the Child Safe Products Act will help make New York a healthier place.
"The incidence of learning disabilities and related neurological impairments such as autism is on the rise, and with this comes enormous personal challenges, family challenges, and increasing costs to health, educational and and social support systems," said Stephen Boese, Executive Director of the Learning Disabilities Association of New York State. "Chemicals now found in children's products can cause learning and other developmental disabilities. We applaud the Assembly for advancing a framework policy to address toxic chemicals and thereby taking a necessary and important step towards prevention of future incidence of learning and developmental disabilities."
"There is a direct connection between the toxic chemicals found in consumer products and the presence of these chemicals in the environment - the downstream effect can be noxious to the overall health of both humans and wildlife. By keeping these toxins out of our products, A.3141-A reduces New Yorkers' exposure to hazardous substances and works to protect our air, water, wildlife and families" said Caitlin Pixley of the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter.
The Child-Safe Products Act establishes a list of chemicals of high concern - covering roughly 1,700 chemicals in commerce. It selects a subset within the chemicals of high concern that are a priority for action, including heavy metals, tris and benzene. The Department of Environmental Conservation, working with the Department of Health, would be able to add or remove chemicals from either list through periodic review. Children's product manufacturers would be required to report the use of priority chemicals. Then, starting in 2016, they would be prohibited from using priority chemicals in products for children ages 12 and under.
The JustGreen Partnership is a diverse collaboration with over 50 organizational partners, working for environmental health and justice for New York's people and communities.
In a bipartisan victory for children's health, the New York State Assembly passed A. 9045, which expands the Tris-free Children and Babies Act to include the form of tris (TDCPP) that was removed from children's sleepwear in 1979 because it can mutate DNA. Studies have since shown that TDCPP can harm the developing brain, disrupt hormones, and cause cancer. The State of California’s Carcinogen Identification Council has determined it is a carcinogen. The diverse collaboration of health-affected organizations, environmental justice groups, teachers, nurses, business leaders and environmental health organizations, known as the JustGreen Partnership, praised the bill's passage, and urged the New York Senate to follow suit.Read more...
It’s clear that for New York legislators, children’s health has bipartisan support. On Thursday, the Assembly Codes committee unanimously advanced a ban on the toxic chemical Tris to the Assembly Floor. Tris, the common name for TDCPP, is a cancer-causing, hormone-disrupting chemical currently added to many foam products, including those for infants and very young children. The proposed law would ban Tris in products made for children ages three and under.
This action comes as Washington State is considering similar legislation in a session that ends March 8th.Read more...
Bipartisan Action Shows That Children’s Health Crosses Political Bounds
Albany, NY –In Tuesday’s NYS Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee, children’s health advocates awaited a debate on legislation that would expand last year’s law banning a chemical known as TCEP from children’s products. The new legislation would include an additional toxic chemical, TDCPP, in the ban. Both chemicals are commonly called “chlorinated tris” chemicals. What they saw surprised and encouraged them: unanimous, bipartisan advancement of the legislation through the committee.
“The New York State Legislature led the way in 2011 by passing a bill I sponsored, the Tris-Free Children and Babies Act, the first of its kind in the nation. Although this was an important first step in protecting children from TCEP, one form of toxic Tris, it's clear that there is more work to be done to protect children from carcinogenic TDCPP, which is widely used and harmful,” saidAssemblyman Robert Sweeney, Environmental Conservation Committee Chair. "Why would we allow a chemical banned from children's sleepwear because of its toxicity to be used in other nursery items? This legislation is one of my priorities for 2012," Sweeney added.Read more...
Popular baby products, including nursing pillows and car seats, contain toxic chemicals linked to cancer, hormone disruption, and other health effects, according to a new report authored by the Washington Toxics Coalition and released today by Clean and Healthy New York. Children and families are exposed to these Tris chemicals when they escape from products and contaminate house dust and indoor air.
“Appallingly, this is just one study in a long line documenting toxic chemicals in the products families rely upon. No parent would deliberately expose their baby in this way. Product makers need to stop simply moving darting from one toxic chemical as it is banned to another,” said Bobbi Chase Wilding, contributor to the study and Deputy Director for Clean and Healthy New York. “Further state action is needed to end this toxic shell game. ”Read more...
The New York State Assembly committees on Environmental Conservation, Health, and Consumer Affairs and Protection are holding a public hearing on the Child-Safe Products Act, and the broader subject of toxic chemicals in children's products. The public is invited to attend and speak - and our Assemblymembers need to hear from parents and others concerned about children's health.
Join JustGreen Partners as we call for the Child-Safe Products Act to be made into law!
Where: 250 Broadway, New York, NY - Assembly Hearing Room
When: 10 am, Monday, December 5, 2011
To testify: Fill out this form, and call Steve Liss at 518-455-5787.
Full details about the hearing can be found here.
Advocates Laud Passage as First in the Nation, Call on Governor to Sign the "Tris-free Children and Babies Act"
Chemical Facing Ban Was Recently Found in 17% of Foam Baby Products Tested
(Albany) Organizations in the JustGreen Partnership hailed passage of S. 4085a/A. 6919a in the Senate today, following the Assembly's earlier passage of the bill. The "Tris-Free Children and Babies Act" would prohibit the sale of products containing a cancer-causing chemical called "TCEP" if they are meant for young children and babies. TCEP is no longer produced in Europe and has been identified by Canada as posing a risk to human health. In a recent scientific study, TCEP was found in 17% of foam baby products tested. (Including the padded seat cushion shown here.) These products include those on which babies spend the vast majority of their time, including nursing pillows, car seats, crib positioners, baby carriers, high chairs, and booster seats.
"It takes forward-thinking leaders like Assemblyman Sweeney and Senator Grisanti to pass the first state-level tris ban in the nation," said Kathy Curtis, Policy Director for Clean New York and co-coordinator of the JustGreen Partnership. "Until comprehensive, sensible chemical policy is a reality, we're glad we can depend on them to protect the health of New York's babies and children," Curtis added.Read more...
A study of products designed for newborns, babies, and toddlers – including car seats, breast feeding pillows, changing pads, crib wedges, bassinet mattresses and other items made with polyurethane foam – found that 80% of products tested contained chemical flame retardants that are considered toxic, according to a peer-reviewed study published in Environmental Science & Technology Journal. Other retardants discovered had so little health and safety data on them it is not possible to know their effects at this time. The same flame retardants found in some of the products are also found in children’s bodies and widely dispersed throughout the environment and in food.Read more...
A new study was released today giving new meaning to the phrase “toxic assets.” On The Money: BPA on Dollar Bills and Receipts set out to investigate how widely stores use thermal receipt paper containing bisphenol A (BPA), and whether this hormone-disrupting chemical is escaping onto the money next to these receipts in people’s wallets.
Researchers found that half of the thermal paper receipts tested had large quantities of freely available BPA; 95% of the dollar bills tested positive for lower amounts. Unlike BPA in water bottles and other products, BPA on thermal paper isn’t chemically bound in any way: it’s a powdery film on the surface of receipts. Data from this report indicate that this highly toxic chemical easily transfers to our skin and likely to other items that it rubs against.Read more... Read more... Read more...
Eating common canned foods is exposing consumers to levels of bisphenol A (BPA) equal to levels shown to cause health problems in laboratory animals, according to a new study released today by The National Work Group for Safe Markets, a coalition of public health and environmental health groups. The study, No Silver Lining, tested food from 50 cans from 19 US states and one Canadian province for BPA contamination. Over 90% of the cans tested had detectable levels of BPA, some at higher levels than have been detected in previous studies.
The canned foods tested were brand name fish, fruits, vegetables, beans, soups, tomato products, sodas, and milks, which together represent “real-life” meal options for a wide range of North American consumers. The cans were purchased from retail stores and were chosen from report participants’ pantry shelves, and sent to an independent laboratory for testing. One can of DelMonte green beans had the highest levels of BPA ever found in canned food, at 1,140 parts per billion.Read more...
Physicians for Social Responsibility, along with JustGreen Partner Clean New York, SAFER States partners in nine other states, Health Care Without Harm, American Nurses Association and the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families campaign, released a new biomonitoring report, Hazardous Chemicals in Health Care: A Snapshot of Chemicals in Doctors and Nurses.
20 doctors and nurses from ten states donated blood and urine samples which were tested for six categories of chemicals (62 individual chemicals in all) and the results were disturbing - though sadly, not surprising. Each of the 20 participants had at least five of the chemical categories, and at least 24 individual chemicals. All participants had the same four categories and the same 18 individual chemicals in their bodies.Read more...
This summer, declare your independence from toxic chemicals and then become part of the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families campaign!
The Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families campaign is a national effort to create the strongest, most comprehensive solution to fix the law that is failing to protect our families from toxic chemicals that harm our health and the environment.
If you believe you have the right to be healthy, the right to work in a safe environment, and the right to know what chemicals are in your body, this is the national campaign you’ve been waiting for!Read more...
Earlier this week, Massachusetts public health officials issued a public health warning to inform consumers about the risks of Bisphenol A (BPA) exposure, after an exhaustive year-long literature review. They are also still considering a ban on some BPA-based products.
The Department of Public Health (DPH) warning has caught attention nationwide, and provides additional support as we continue our efforts in New York and nationally to protect families and phase out BPA.
Supporters view the warning as an important first step for MA, but caution that products in stores should still be BPA-free.Read more...
The Maine Department of Environmental Protection and the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention last week released a list of chemicals of "high concern" for their effects on human health, including phthalates andbisphenol A.
Release of the list, which was mandated by the state's 2008 Kids Safe Products Act, is an essential step in protecting residents from toxic chemicals in consumer products. Environmental Health Strategy Center Executive Director Michael Belliveau said the historic step should send a message to manufacturers and the market that these chemicals must not be used.Read more...
The alarming health threat posed by endocrine-disrupting chemicals including phthalates and bisphenol A was clearly distilled Sunday in a column, It's Time to Learn From Frogs, by the New York Times’ Nicholas Kristof.
Kristof, who often writes about global conflict, was drawn to the subject after viewing a documentary about polluted waters and the resulting reproductive deformations in frogs, fish and other wildlife living in the ecosystem.
Kristof brilliantly connects these environmental happenings with a similar cause-and-effect playing out in humans.Read more...
Suffolk County residents gathered today with children’s health advocates from across the state at a hearing for the Toxin-Free Toddlers and Babies Act, to call on County Executive Steve Levy to sign the important initiative to safeguard children’s health. Earlier this month, the Suffolk County Legislature took the groundbreaking step of unanimously passing the bill, 18-0, sponsored by Legislator Steve Stern (D-Huntington, 16th L.D.) (Intro. 1017), becoming the first jurisdiction in the nation to restrict the use of bisphenol A (BPA) in children’s products.
“We applaud County Executive Levy for his strong leadership in cancer prevention and protecting public health. We look forward to him signing this bill,” Legislator Stern said.Read more...
Despite label claims like “gentle” and “pure,” dozens of top-selling children’s bath products are contaminated with the cancer-causing chemicals formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane, according to a new report and product tests released today by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and the JustGreen Partnership. The chemicals are not disclosed on product labels because contaminants are exempt from labeling laws.
The Campaign study is the first to document the widespread presence of both formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane in bath products for children, such as shampoos and soaps. Formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane are known to cause cancer in animals, and are listed as probable human carcinogens by the US EPA. Formaldehyde can also trigger skin rashes in some children.Read more...
Bisphenol A (BPA) was first synthesized before 1900, and has been known to act like estrogen since the 1930s. Like so many now-commonplace chemicals, BPA's use began to rise starting in the 1950s. Today, over 6 billion pounds of BPA are produced each year, making it one of the most highly produced plastics in the world. BPA is used to make hard plastic (polycarbonate) used in baby bottles, toddler sippy cups, polycarbonate water bottles, eye glasses, CDs and DVDs, children's toys and more. As an epoxy, BPA is used in food and beverage can linings, high-durability industrial paints, dental sealants, and glues.Read more...
Major shortcomings in the outdated federal law designed to regulate toxic chemicals, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), has left the public unprotected from chemical exposure. Passed by Congress in 1976, TSCA empowers the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate chemical usage based on the risk to human health.
Since then, only an estimated 2 percent of the 62,000 chemicals in commerce at that time have been reviewed for human health risks; now it is estimated that more than 80,000 chemicals are in use today. Many newer chemicals have also avoided full review.Read more...