Lawmakers pass new rules for hazardous chemicals in toys

U.S. & World News

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) – Toy makers would have to tell state regulators when children’s products contain hazardous chemicals like cadmium or lead under legislation that passed the Democrat-led New York state Legislature Tuesday.

If the measure is signed into law, toys containing certain materials such as toxic flame retardants would be banned outright beginning in 2023. State regulators would be tasked with compiling a list of potentially harmful chemicals and maintaining public records about the presence of those materials in toys.

Supporters said the measure will protect children from the chemicals. They noted that a handful of states, including California, already have similar laws on the books.

“There’s well-documented evidence that these chemicals are harmful to children,” said Sen. Todd Kaminsky, D-Long Island, who is the sponsor of the legislation, known as the Child Safe Products Act. “I have a 10-month-old child. I watch him put everything he can get his hands on in his mouth.”

Republican lawmakers questioned why the bill was needed, given federal safety standards. They predicted the bill would be difficult to enforce and could hurt the state’s business climate by creating new obligations for toy makers.

The Toy Association, a toy maker trade group, echoed their concerns, noting that toys are already among the most heavily regulated products.

“Nothing is more important to toymakers than preserving the safety of children at play,” Matt Lenz, director of state government affairs at the New York-based organization, said in a written statement.

The bill has long been a priority for several environmental and children’s advocacy organizations but was had been held up in the state Senate until this year, when Democrats wrested control of the chamber from Republicans.

“New York’s parents deserve to know what is safe for their families, but right now they’re flying blind,” said Kathy Curtis, executive director of Clean and Healthy New York, a group that had pushed for the bill.

The measure was one of several health and environment bills to advance in the Senate and Assembly on Tuesday.

One is a proposed state Constitutional amendment that would guarantee a right to clean air and water. The proposal must pass a second time, in 2021 at the earliest, before it can go before the voters as a ballot question.

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