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New York News

Advocates Make Eleventh-Hour Appeal To Legislature On Toxic Products

On the steps of the historic Million Dollar Staircase in the New York state capitol on Monday, parents, advocates, and legislators called for action on bills to address toxic chemicals in consumer goods.

Toxic toys displayed at the NYS Capitol, June 2016.
Credit WAMC photo by Dave Lucas
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Toxic toys displayed at the NYS Capitol, June 2016.

A new report catalogs children’s products purchased around the state that contain toxic chemicals ranging from clothes and jewelry to sports gear and packaged toys.

The worst products contained dangerous chemicals at alarmingly high levels — as much as 240,000 parts per million. Advocates are supporting a variety of bills to address toxic chemicals in consumer products in the final days of the session.

Bobbi Wilding is deputy director of Clean and Healthy New York, which prepared the report.  "We found things like charms which contain up to 24 percent cadmium, which could be lethal if you swallowed them, and also found other heavy metals like antimony, lead and mercury."

Manhattan Democratic Senator Brad Hoylman holds up a toxic toy at the State Capitol in Albany, June 2016.
Credit WAMC photo by Dave Lucas
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Manhattan Democratic Senator Brad Hoylman holds up a toxic toy at the State Capitol in Albany, June 2016.

While the group says it’s had some success in raising consumer awareness and some retailers more carefully scrutinizing new products, it has spent the last eight years trying to get actual legislation passed to address toxic chemicals in consumer products. "We're here today calling on the state Senate to act. The Assembly has passed a bill time and time again to protect children from toxic chemicals.  Right now there's a stagnation going on in the Senate, and we believe that there's time left between now and the end of session for them to actually take action on this."

Standing behind a table displaying a multitude of toxic toys, Manhattan Democratic Senator Brad Hoylman, a ranking member of the environmental committee, says the report is a wakeup call.  "We need to get these toxins out of this broad array of kids' toys. We have seven days to it — this session — we need to act now. The safety of our children is at stake."

In December 2014, the Albany County Legislature passed "The Toxic Toy Act," which prohibits the sale of children's products or apparel containing toxic metals, but Clean and Healthy New York members were able to buy four "Toxic Toys" listed in the latest report at stores in neighboring Schenectady County. If the effort to get a state law on the books fails, the activists vow they'll be back next session for a ninth year of lobbying.

Toy products with high levels of chemical concern purchased in Schenectady, NY
Credit WAMC photo by Dave Lucas
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Toy products with high levels of chemical concern purchased in Schenectady, NY

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