FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Toy Companies To Disclose Toxics In Toys Under New State Program
Advocates Disappointed Lead, Phthalates, and Cadmium Won’t Be Reported
Children’s health advocates today applauded the Washington State Department of Ecology’s (Ecology) first-in-the nation program that will require manufacturers of toys and other children’s products to report whether their products contain certain harmful chemicals.
Seattle, WA—Children’s health advocates today applauded the Washington State Department of Ecology’s (Ecology) first-in-the nation program that will require manufacturers of toys and other children’s products to report whether their products contain certain harmful chemicals. Under a the new program, children’s product manufacturers will be required to report to Ecology if one of their products contains any of 66 chemicals designated by Ecology as harmful for children’s health.
The new program is required under the state’s Children’s Safe Products Act, which was passed by the legislature in 2008 in response to increased consumer demand for safer products after millions of toys were recalled in 2007 due to high levels of lead.
“No parent wants to give their children toys that could hurt them. But parents need help to protect their children from toxic chemicals and toxic toys. Now they’ll have information they need to keep their children safe, and manufacturers will know what chemicals they should avoid,” said Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson (D-Seattle), prime sponsor of the Children’s Safe Products Act.
“Parents are sick and tired of hearing about toxic chemicals in everything from toys to baby bottles to shampoo. This new program is an important first step in restoring consumers’ confidence in the safety of children’s products,” said Ivy Sager-Rosenthal, campaign director of The Washington Toxics Coalition. “The information the state gets under this program will also tell policymakers if more needs to be done to get harmful chemicals out of products.”
Chemicals designated by Ecology include the hormone-disruptor bisphenol A (BPA) found in polycarbonate plastic, cancer-causing 1,4-dioxane found in personal care products like baby shampoo, and brominated flame retardants found in textiles and plastics. Chemicals on Ecology’s list of 66 include those that are toxic to children or present in children’s bodies, focusing on those that affect development, alter the hormone system, or cause cancer.
Alma Feldpausch, a concerned parent, was pleased with the new requirements, “I shouldn’t have to be a chemist to figure out whether the toys I’m buying for my child are harmful. I’m very careful about what products I buy, but it’s impossible for me to get the information on chemicals in products.”
Ecology will phase in the reporting under a 3 to 4 month pilot program, starting first with products intended for children three years of age and younger. After evaluation of the pilot program, Ecology will issue formal rules for chemical disclosure.
One area of concern for advocates is the omission of lead, cadmium, and some phthalates from the reporting requirements. “Federal standards for lead, phthalates, and cadmium are not strong enough to protect children’s health. Parents should have the information about whether a product contains a chemical regardless of the amount used in a product. Then they can make the decision about whether they will give that product to their child,” said Sager-Rosenthal.
The problem of toxic chemicals in consumer products is receiving increased scrutiny at the federal level as well. Senator Frank Lautenberg and Representative Bobby Rush are expected to introduce a new bill this Congressional session to reform the outdated Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) – the current federal law for regulating chemicals. Advocates are urging lawmakers to do the following:
• Phase out the most dangerous chemicals from the manufacturing process;
• Require industries to take responsibility for the safety of their products; and
• Use the best science to protect vulnerable groups.
To date, the EPA has required testing on only about 200 of the more than 80,000 chemicals that have been on the market since the law was passed 33 years ago. For more information on efforts to reform federal chemical laws, go to www.saferchemicals.org
The Washington Toxics Coalition is a statewide non-profit organization that protects public health and the environment by eliminating toxic pollution. www.watoxics.org