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...
Assembly hearing on flame retardant chemicals in children’s products brings out many supporters for a ban, only one opponent
Following last week’s implosion of the chemical industry front group “Citizens for Fire Safety,” the American Chemistry Council (ACC) made its public debut representing the only opposition to banning a cancer-causing chemical in children’s products. ACC’s Stephen Rosario and North American Flame Retardant Alliance’s Jackson Morrill were the first speakers at yesterday’s Assembly hearing on flame retardant chemicals in children’s products. Not only were they the only speakers present to fail to submit written testimony, they appeared to be profoundly unprepared.
They opened their statement by disavowing Citizens for Fire Safety (CFFS), even though the CEO of Albemarle (one of the three CFFS co-founding chemical makers) is on ACC’s board of directors. They also said they would not talk about the recent Chicago Tribune series that exposed CFFS as an industry front group that distorted science, gave misleading testimony, and exaggerated the effectiveness of their products.Read more...
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.
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...
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.
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.
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...
In response to growing public concern over dangerous chemicals in common household products and continued Congressional inaction, on Wednesday, January 19th legislators and advocates in 30 states across the country announced plans to introduce legislation aimed at protecting children and families from harmful toxic chemicals. Despite well-funded opposition from the chemical industry, 18 state legislatures have already passed 71 chemical safety laws in the last eight years by an overwhelming, bipartisan margin – with more to come in 2011.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...
Business leaders, legislative leaders, moms with young children and advocates gathered today to call upon the state legislature to pass a new law that would require safer substitutes for toxic chemicals in children’s products. They presented a wide array of products now on the market that contain chemicals linked to serious diseases and disorders, including learning disabilities, infertility, and cancer.
The proposed law would direct the Departments of Environmental Conservation and Health to develop a list of chemicals of high concern, prioritize within that list based on their use in children’s products, determine if manufacturers use those priority chemicals in products they make, and evaluate whether safer solutions are available. When safer solutions are possible, the DEC could require their use.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...