Assembly Acts to Protect Kids from Toxics

Child Safe Products Act Passes with Overwhelming Bipartisan Support, Advances to New York State Senate

Bill Passes as Buy Buy Baby Calls on Vendors to Avoid Chemicals on New “Restricted Substances List”

Baby Chewing on Ducky (Albany, NY) The New York State Assembly Tuesday passed the Child Safe Products Act, a bill sponsored by Environmental Conservation Committee Chair Assemblyman Robert Sweeney (D-Lindenhurst) that will reduce the use of toxic chemicals in products made for children.  The bill passed amid budget negotiations, signaling the importance placed on it by Assembly leadership.  With the vote count 111-25, it passed with more bipartisan support: last year’s Assembly vote count was 111-30.  At least five Republican Assemblymembers who voted against the bill in 2013 supported its passage this year.

“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 products designed for kids.  It’s time to put health concerns first,” said Assemblyman Sweeney.

Senator Phil Boyle (R-Bay Shore), sponsor of matching legislation, said “I applaud the Assembly’s passage today of the Child Safe Product Act with a record amount of bipartisan support.  As more legislators see the importance of protecting our children against toxic chemicals, I urge my Senate colleagues to support this important legislation.”

Advocates praised today’s vote, which comes on the heels of Buy Buy Baby’s parent company Bed Bath & Beyond issuing a Restricted Substances List of chemicals for vendors to avoid in products and manufacturing.  They, along with other retailers including Walmart and Target, see an opportunity to increase their profit margin by taking action to address toxic chemicals by issuing restricted chemicals lists and establishing chemical sustainability programs.  Product makers are also responding to public demand for safer products by reformulating – most notably, Johnson & Johnson announced in February that it changed its process so its baby shampoos are free from carcinogens.

Kathleen Curtis, Executive Director of Clean and Healthy New York and co-leader of the JustGreen Partnership, said, “Retailers and product makers recognize that people want safer products, and forward-thinking companies are responding.  New York State needs to act to ensure that all children’s products are safe, regardless of who makes or sells them.  We thank the Assembly for taking this important vote.”

Cecil Corbin-Mark, Deputy Director of WE ACT for Environmental Justice and co-leader of the JustGreen Partnership, said, “Low income communities and communities of color across New York are lucky to have leaders like Assemblyman Sweeney and Senator Boyle. The Child Safe Products Act will put an end to toxic toys on the shelves of 99 cents stores in our neighborhoods.  We thank the Assembly for their action and urge the Senate to follow suit quickly.”

Joshua Klainberg from New York League of Conservation Voters said “We applaud the NYS Assembly, and bill sponsor Bob Sweeney, for taking a strong stand to protect children’s health.  As more than half the Senate supports the matching bill sponsored by Senator Phil Boyle, we urge that body to move quickly to turn this bill into a law.”

Saima Anjam from Environmental Advocates said, “Parents assume the products they buy are safe and the chemicals used to make them have been vetted, but that is often not the case. Typically, when a chemical is banned from use, companies can simply switch to another equally toxic chemical. This bill sets forth a comprehensive plan to keep parents informed, and removes unnecessary toxic chemicals from the products they give their children. We applaud Assemblyman Sweeney for his leadership on this common-sense legislation and call on Senate Leadership to finally bring Senator Boyle’s bill, which has the support of a majority of members, to the floor for a vote.”

“The revolving door of toxic chemicals in children’s products must be stopped.  The cycle of replacing one toxic chemical with another merely renders parents confused and puts our children’s health at risk.  Citizens Campaign for the Environment commends Assemblyman Sweeney for his leadership to pass the Child Safe Products Act in the Assembly.  We now need the Senate to take action to make products for our children safe once and for all,” said Adrienne Esposito, CCE Executive Director.

“The NYS Assembly took a stand today with the passage of A.6328, the Child Safe Products Act,” said Caitlin Pixley, Conservation Association of the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter. “The 38,000+ members of the Atlantic Chapter thank Assemblyman Sweeney for being a leader on this extremely important issue, as well as the many other Assembly members who voted ‘Yes’ to protect NY’s children and NY’s environment. Whether at the production, consumption, or disposal-level, toxic chemicals find their way into our everyday environment, including our air, water, and natural places.  We now look the NYS Senate to take up this issue and vote to ensure a toxic-free New York by passing the Child Safe Products Act.”

Russ Haven, NYPIRG Legislative Counsel said, “The question now becomes, with 35 sponsors, will Senate Co-Leaders Skelos and Klein put this bill on the floor for a vote?  If the answer is ‘yes,’ parents soon will be armed with useful information to make smart choices when they shop and the health and safety of New York’s children will be dramatically improved.”

Pam LaBrake, Founder of Parents Against Lindane said, “It’s never too early to put kids first, thank you.”

Chemicals in consumer goods can cause significant, lifelong health problems, including asthma, infertility, learning and developmental disabilities, obesity, diabetes and cancer.  As children move through critical windows of development, they are more vulnerable to toxic chemicals.  Mt. Sinai School of Medicine has estimated that diseases of environmental origin cost New York State at least $4.35 billion each year.

The JustGreen Partnership is a collaboration of 54 organizations representing more than a million New Yorkers working for environmental health and justice for New York’s people and communities.  Learn more at www.just-green.org.

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See what Assemblyman Sweeney said following the vote on the floor:

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