Parents, Advocates Tell the NYS Senate: Don't Duck Reform – Protect Kids from Toxics
In the wake of the May 22nd National Stroller Brigade for Safe Chemicals, parents, toddlers, and advocates gathered in front of a 25' Rubber Ducky and urged the New York State Senate to protect children from toxic chemicals. They called on the Senate to introduce and pass legislation that would identify chemicals of high concern, select priority chemicals from the high concern list, require children's product makers to report their use, and ultimately phase them out.
Concerns have been raised within the scientific community about the role of synthetic chemicals in the rise of many common diseases and illnesses, including cancer, heart disease, learning disabilities, inability to have children (including both female infertility and damage to sperm), hormone disruption, obesity and diabetes, to name a few. A number of these chemicals are used in products children touch every day. Yet product makers don't disclose the chemicals in their products, and the scientific information is complex.
“As the mom of an adult with autism and developmental disabilities, I can’t help but wonder what she was exposed to in her crib and what toxic toys we might have bought her,” said Julia Walter, who is trained as a special education teacher. “People think of children with autism – they forget this is a lifelong condition.”
“At this point, I feel like I would have to be a toxicologist with a full chemistry lab in my basement just to understand what's in my children's toys, furniture and car seats,” said Sarah Howard, mother of two. “Parents have enough on their plates – they shouldn't have to worry about whether their baby's nursing pillow is leaching dangerous chemicals.”
The last few weeks have seen startling revelations about the tactics some chemical companies have used to keep toxic chemicals in common children's products and other household furnishings. The Chicago Tribune revealed in a four-day, front-page series that makers of “flame retardants” - including those used in nursing pillows, car seats, strollers, changing pads, couches and more – have used “Big Tobacco” tactics to keep their chemicals in use. The series documents the failure of these chemicals in household products to prevent fires, and illuminated the health problems posed by many of them. The three chemical makers – Albemarle, Chemtura, and ICL – have used a front-group called Citizens for Fire Safety Institute to distort both fire science and toxicological studies.
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.”
The New York State Assembly overwhelmingly passed the Child-Safe Products Act 104-39 in the early Wednesday evening, after minimal debate. The bipartisan show of support for children’s health was lauded by parents, teachers, nurses, health advocates, and others.
The measure, A. 3141a, sponsored by Assemblyman Robert Sweeney, was backed by the JustGreen Partnership, a broad, diverse collaboration of over 50 organizations representing more than a million New Yorkers. It contains the following provisions:
- Establishment of a list of “chemicals of high concern” that appear on authoritative government lists as causing cancer, reproductive problems, learning and developmental disabilities, and other common chronic health problems.
- Identification of “priority chemicals,” starting with a dozen chemicals that include heavy metals and carcinogens.
- A requirement that manufacturers disclose their use of priority chemicals in products made for children ages 12 and under.
- Starting in 2016, a prohibition on sales in New York of children’s products containing priority chemicals. The bill also enables the State to leverage resources by working with a multi-state collaborative called the Interstate Chemicals Clearinghouse.
“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 Presidents’ Cancer Panel reported that nearly 80,000 chemicals are used in the country today, many of which are unstudied and largely unregulated. We must act to protect children's health from unnecessary toxic chemicals found in everyday products. It’s time to put health concerns first and we can start this process by protecting our children. This bill sets up a regulatory framework in which dangerous chemicals in children's products can be banned. I urge the Senate to follow the Assembly's lead on this issue," said Assemblyman Bob Sweeney, Chair of the New York State Assembly Committee on Environmental Conservation.
"Protecting our children from exposure to toxic chemicals makes good public health sense. According to the World Health Organization, 25% of all chronic illnesses can be linked to environmental exposures. Eliminating the exposures during the child's formative years means a healthier future population," said Thomas Lowe, MPH, RN, COHN-S, Health and Safety Representative for the New York State Nurses Association. “ Our legislators should be proud of the legacy they are leaving for that future population.”
"We applaud the Assembly for passing this important bill as part of their green agenda," said Saima Anjam of Environmental Advocates of New York. "Targeting chemicals in children’s products is a key step to reducing harmful effects of unnecessary exposure in children and the environment."
"New York can take a quantum leap forward in protecting children from toxic chemical exposures by passing the Child-Safe Products Act," said NYPIRG Legislative Counsel Russ Haven. "The Assembly has done its part by passing Assemblyman Sweeney's comprehensive bill. It's now time for the Senate to stand up for children's health by passing legislation that will begin the process of identifying toxic chemical usage and getting toxics out of kids' consumer products."
Groups pointed to outdated and ineffective federal laws aimed at managing chemicals in the marketplace, especially the Toxic Substance Control Act, as well as enactment of policies similar to A3141a in other states, as why New York should take action. The U.S. Senate is advancing the Safe Chemicals act to reform TSCA, co-sponsored by both New York Senators, but there is no foreseeable action in the House.
“62,000 chemicals were assumed safe in 1976, and were allowed to be used widely in commerce without any meaningful information on environmental and health impacts. Now there roughly 80,000 chemicals used in commerce,” said Kathy Curtis, Executive Director of Clean and Healthy New York. “While work continues to fix our broken federal laws, New York’s children continue to bear the brunt of unchecked use of chemicals that can affect their health and development. Our State must take action now.”
Organizations in the JustGreen Partnership are now turning their attention to the New York State Senate.
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...
On Monday, February 13th, JustGreen Partners gathered outside the Javits Center to protest the Toy Industry Association's repeated lobbying against laws that would protect children's health. The group included representatives from NYPIRG, Center for Environmental Health, Center for Health, Environment and Justice, WE ACT for Environmental Justice, and Clean and Healthy New York.
JustGreen Partners distributed nearly a thousand flyers to 2012 Toy Fair, an annual which connects toy makers with wholesale and retail buyers.
The action drew attention from Toy Industry Association representatives, including Communications and Government Relations staff, who can be seen in the background of the photo above. They argued that all are welcome to participate in the voluntary, consensus-based ASTM standards. One of the TIA reps who talked with CEH's Ansje Miller works full time on participating in this standard setting.
TIA lobbies in statehouses across the nation against laws that would protect children's health. In New York. TIA has lobbied on numerous environmental health provisions, many with no impact on toymakers.
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.
Beware: you may be shocked to learn that toxic chemicals aren't sitting around passively - they are wreaking havoc with our health and designing a PR campaign for survival! View the funny video Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families created to galvanize public support for Congressional action and have fun with a pretty serious issue. The characters you will meet in the video are cartoons, but the plot is ripped straight from the headlines. Enjoy and please share it with your friends, co-workers and family!
The statistics are startling. Of the 80,000+ chemicals used in commerce, about 62,000 were "grandfathered in" - assumed to be safe for ongoing use - when the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) was passed in 1976. Of those chemicals, only 200 have ever been fully tested for their impacts on our health and the environment. Only five chemicals have ever been banned - and none since 1990.
We now have a once in a generation opportunity to change that law. The Toxic Chemical Safety Act of 2010 was introduced in Congress. It aims to protect our families from harmful chemicals by overhauling our outdated chemical laws.
The House of Representatives is poised to act on toxic chemical legislation so your representative needs to hear from you!
We are organizing a call-in week July 19-23, to make sure our Representatives know that we want passage of a strong Toxic Chemical Safety Act. Please take a few minutes to make a call and encourage your friends, neighbors, co-workers and family members to do so as well.
This is our time to make toxic chemicals history! Let's tell Congress to vote for strong chemical policy reform. Please call your Representative during our call-in week - just follow this link for details.
After a round of last minute debate, the NYS Child Safe Products Act (S. 7070/A. 10089) passed through the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee yesterday.The bill has nine co-sponsors in the Senate and 51 co-sponsors in the Assembly. It would reduce the use of toxic chemicals in children’s products where safer alternatives are available, and provides a comprehensive framework for addressing the issue of toxic chemicals in children's products. 27 environmental health and justice groups have submitted memos supporting the legislation.Sarah Beatty, founder and President of NY City business Green Depot, gave compelling testimony before the committee.
The Health Case for Reforming the Toxic Substances Control Act, a recent report by the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families Campaign, shows that the U.S. has the opportunity to prevent rising rates of chronic disease and reduce health care costs by overhauling federal chemical policy. Evidence is strong and growing that chemical exposures contribute significantly to the rise in many chronic diseases, according to this new report synthesizing peer-reviewed science.
As the U.S. debates the costs of health care and its reform and New York State continues to be in a fiscal crisis, “The Health Case” documents the enormous health care costs of treating cancer, learning and developmental disabilities, asthma and other diseases and conditions linked to chemical exposure, according to recent studies. By updating toxic chemical laws, the report found that Congress would reduce exposure to chemicals contributing to chronic diseases.Read more...
Both bills passed unanimously and had tremendous support from legislators. In Albany County the ban was co-sponsored by 28 out of 39 legislators. In Schenectady County 12 of the 15 legislators co-sponsored the ban.
Albany County Executive Michael Breslin is expected to sign the bill soon, and it will go into effect on January 1, 2010.
In Schenectady County, the law will go into effect 90 days after Sue Savage, Chair of the County Legislature, files it with the Secretary of State, which is standard for all County bills.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...
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...
Tuesday, May 5th was Earth Day Lobby Day, and the New York State Assembly passed all 12 environmental bills in their Earth Day package.
New York's BPA bill (Assembly Bill 6919b) passed 133 - 12, the E-waste bill (A. 7571) passed 121 - 22, and the exciting story of the day was the decaBDE victory. The bill (A. 7573) passed 141 - 2, after weeks of intense negative lobbying by the bromine industry.
They generated a number of opposition memos. Assemblyman Joseph Saladino challenged the sponsor during debate by raising all of the industry arguments.Read more...
After yesterday’s Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee hearing, New Yorkers are one step closer to protection from several toxic chemicals in consumer products. Led by Committee Chairman Robert Sweeney, bills on three JustGreen priority issues were reported out of the Assembly Committee.
New York State legislation requiring the phase out of Bisphenol A (Assembly Bill A6919b) from young children’s products and food containers builds on Suffolk County’s first in the nation ban on BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups, moving to protect our most vulnerable residents from the impacts of toxic chemicals. Bisphenol A has been linked to many different health affects at very low levels of exposure.Read more...
In the picture: Front row (L-R) U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, County Executive Steve Levy and Legislator Steve Stern. Back two rows (l-r): Helene Aronson, Suffolk County Child Care Council; Pat LaCata West Islip Breast Cancer Coalition; MaryJoan Shea, Huntington Breast Cancer Action Coalition; Laura Weinberg, Great Neck Breast Cancer Coalition, William Zhou, Paul D. Schreiber H.S. & Great Neck Breast Cancer Coalition; Karen Joy Miller, Huntington Breast Cancer Action Coalition; Stephen Boese, NYS Learning Disabilities Association; Donna Jurasits, Babylon Breast Cancer Coalition; Dr. Humayun Chaudhry, Suffolk Health Commissioner; and Carrie Meek Gallagher, Suffolk Commissioner of Environment and Energy.Read more...
Suffolk County, NY, has become the first jurisdiction in the nation to ban bisphenol A in baby bottles and sippy cups. The county’s legislature passed the ban with a unanimous vote on Tuesday, according to a story in Newsday.
The bill’s sponsor, Steve Stern, said the intention is to protect young children from the health effects of BPA. "There are plenty of viable, cost-effective and safe alternatives," he said. The ban applies to products marketed to children younger than the age of 3.
This effort was spearheaded by JustGreen Partners Huntington Breast Cancer Action Coalition, Prevention is the Cure, and Great Neck Breast Cancer Coalition.Read more...