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Report Finds Toxic Chemicals In Children’s Products In Albany, Westchester, Suffolk Counties

Clean And Healthy New York

A new report sounds the alarm about dangerous chemicals detected in children's products purchased in Albany and Westchester Counties and on Long Island.

Parents may believe children's products on store shelves have been tested for safety, and, for example, if an item of clothing is labeled "100 percent polyester," then that's what it is. 

But child safety advocates caution that such products could contain "chemicals of concern" that might only be detected through expensive testing. Bobbi Wilding is Deputy Director of Clean And Healthy New York.    "We want people to understand that it is a continuing problem that we have toxic chemicals that have lifelong impacts on children's health in the products that they're using every day.”

Researchers report finding heavy metals, such as cadmium and antimony, along with flame retardants showing up in children's products being sold at retail outlets. Wilding notes Zipper pulls are a major offender.  "It is a problem that we've documented in a series of reports and led to action in Westchester, Albany and Suffolk counties, but it persists. So we found heavy metals like cadmium and antimony and we found flame retardants in products."

The toxins are suspected in cases of childhood cancer, asthma, developmental disorders and infant mortality. Wilding says parents should pay attention to labels and tags.   "It actually says on the tag that it contains added flame retardant. There's no law that requires them to be there, and parents can certainly find products that avoid them, so people should be on the lookout for that. Not only for kids’ products, but for all furniture products."

Speaking Tuesday at the state capitol, Wilding says the paper, entitled "Tell Me More: Missing Information on Harmful Chemicals in Children's Products," includes research data from the New York State Department of Health's Wadsworth Laboratory.     "And they've actually published studies that document biphenyls that a lot of folks know used to be in baby bottles and sippy cups, but also alternative biphenyls in the same kinds of products that could be causing the same kinds of harm. So we're basically attempting to show folks that this is still a problem. The legislature has failed to act on these issues and there's a set of legislation that would really make a difference both in giving the public access to the information they need and then taking specific actions on certain flame-retardant chemicals and biphenyls to make sure that children aren't exposed to these harmful chemicals."

Long Island Republican state Senator Phil Boyle is sponsoring legislation that would put restrictions on flame retardants.   "These chemicals are very bad for children in a lot of regards to their health. There's really no need for them in children's products. It really would set it along the lines of the federal standards and there's no reason that New York is not as if not more protective of our children than the federal government."

Boyle says there's an Assembly version of the bill and strong bipartisan support.   "I don't see there's a need to be any opposition to it even in this crazy legislative session, which we're coming to an end in, we should be able to pass this bill. Unanimously."

The report recommends manufacturers and brand owners  be transparent about the chemicals in their products; retailers establish their own chemical management plans while working with vendors to be transparent about the contents of products; and phasing out harmful chemicals.

Wilding adds counties should be more vigilant.   "Albany, Westchester and Suffolk County all have laws that are not currently being enforced yet that would restrict heavy metals in children's products. But the problem is you need the counties to enforce it."

NYS-TellMeMore-6-11-2018 on Scribd

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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