Shouldn't Manufacturers Disclose Hazardous Chemicals in Kids Products? By Kaitlyn Dombrowski
New York State Senator Tony Avella and Assemblyman Felix Ortiz introduced the Toxic Show and Tell Act, a listings and disclosure bill that failed to make the floor this legislative session. The bill would have required product manufacturers to publish lists of high concern chemicals found in children’s products and report their presence to the Department of Environmental Conservation and Health. These chemicals can be extremely harmful to children during developmental stages and information about which products contain these chemicals should be available to parents.
Many other states, including Vermont, Oregon, Minnesota, and Washington, have already implemented similar laws that make chemical information available to consumers. One would assume this information is already available to everyone, but that is not the case. In most states, companies who sell children’s products aren’t mandated to publish it.
The recent New York bill was introduced after the Child Safe Products Act, which sought to ban specific high concern chemicals from children’s products, failed to pass in recent years. It was thought that the Toxic Show and Tell Act had a stronger likelihood of passing by not calling for a full chemical ban, just disclosure.
There were concerns about the broadness of the language, for it allowed for chemicals to be added to the list as research continues on the harmful effects of children being exposed to certain chemicals. Legislators are aware of constituent concerns, but also know that chemical and toy industries are starkly opposed to such legislation.
Considering this bill in committee, yet not bringing it to the floor, demonstrated some concern without aggravating business interests. At the same time, getting a bill passed isn’t as much dependent on the language as it is on party politics, and the “who’s who” when legislators contemplate which legislation they should support.
Though insufficient political weight was behind this bill, the campaign to promote healthy, toxic-free products certainly isn’t over. Advocacy will continue when the legislature reconvenes in January.
Kaitlyn Dombrowski is a Utica College government student currently interning at Clean and Healthy New York