The New York State Assembly continues to do its part year after year in passing a comprehensive bill that would protect children from a lengthy list of potentially dangerous chemicals. The Senate must finally step up to the plate and do the same.
The Child Safe Products Act is being sponsored by Sen. Philip Boyle, R-Suffolk County. It is being championed by Sen. Tony Avella of Queens, vice chairman of the Environmental Conservation Committee.
Now the legislation is in Sen. Mark J. Grisanti’s court. The Republican from Buffalo is the Environmental Conservation Committee chairman and should provide the push that the bill needs to finally get over the hurdle in the Senate. If not, then consumers will be forced to rely on retailers, many of whom have stopped selling products containing the harmful chemicals. Those moves should persuade opponents of the measure, who think phasing out heavy metals is bad for business.
It is important for parents and anyone who cares about the safety and health of children to know what is in products children use. Yet, the nation’s toxic chemical laws are so ineffective that many harmful chemicals slip into consumer products. And the public knows nothing about them.
Washington state passed the Children’s Safe Products Act in 2008, requiring makers of children’s products sold in the state to report if their products contain any of 66 chemicals that are of high concern to the health of children.
The same thing needs to happen in New York, which already prohibits the use of some dangerous chemicals. The Child Safe Products Act would set up a comprehensive framework in which children’s products containing dangerous chemicals could be banned from sale in the state.
The act establishes a list of “chemicals of high concern,” about 1,800 chemicals that are linked to health problems. It also identifies from that list some especially dangerous “priority chemicals,” starting with a dozen chemicals in products made for children 12 and under.
The marketplace is moving things in the direction of safety and major retailers like Target and Bed, Bath & Beyond have responded by disclosing or limiting the use of chemicals that are known hazards.
Chemicals are part of all products, and there are debates about which ones are truly harmful. But there is no debate about toxic heavy metals, including arsenic and lead. Indeed, most would agree that there is no good reason to introduce lead or cobalt into a toy. Small children and babies are most susceptible to the chemicals because they don’t just play with toys, they put them in their mouths.
There are a number of toxic chemicals in widespread use in children’s products that can cause cancer, learning disability, asthma, obesity and other chronic illnesses. These chemicals are not listed on the labels and parents have no idea which products contain them. The Senate has to act to protect children and the public from such risks.