Seattle, WA – Children’s products contain chemicals linked to cancer, hormone disruption, reproductive problems, and developmental problems according to over 6,500 newly released reports filed by makers of children’s products with the Washington State Department of Ecology. The chemicals reported include toxic flame retardants, phthalates, formaldehyde, and antimony. Major manufacturers who reported making the products include Toys “R” Us, Fred Meyer (Kroger), Michael’s, The Gap, Cost Plus World Market, and Little Tikes.
According to an analysis by the Washington Toxics Coalition, products reported include:
- Textiles on Little Tikes plastic outdoor play structures containing the toxic flame retardant Deca-BDE, which Washington state banned in electronics and furniture in 2007.
- Paint on Toys “R” Us toy vehicles containing the toxic flame retardant TBBPA.
- Cost Plus World Market plastic musical toys containing cancer-causing formaldehyde.
- Crayola artist’s paints containing hormone-disrupting nonylphenol.
- Michael’s educational toys and plastic fake nails containing hormone-disrupting phthalates at levels that potentially violate federal and state laws.
- Over 640 products made by a variety of manufacturers, including toys, shoes, costumes, doll furniture, and outdoor games and play structures containing cancer-causing antimony, which is often used with other toxic flame retardants.
“Far too many children’s products contain chemicals we know are harmful to children’s health,” said Laurie Valeriano, executive director of the Washington Toxics Coalition. “These chemicals have no business being in kids products. The data continues to show the need to pass laws that require the phase out of these chemicals.“
The chemical reports must be filed under Washington State’s Children’s Safe Products Act, which requires companies making children’s products to report the presence of toxic chemicals in their products. The new reports cover certain children’s products sold in Washington State from March 3, 2015 to Sept. 1, 2015. Since the program began in 2012, more than 33,500 reports have been filed and made available to consumers.
A similar reporting law passed the Oregon Legislature this year. The program is stronger than Washington’s because, in addition to requiring disclosure, it requires manufacturers to phase out the use of chemicals of high concern to children in products that either are intended for children under 3 years of age, “mouthable”, or children’s cosmetics. A phaseout is not required if a feasible alternative to a chemical is not available.
“It’s no question these chemicals are harmful to kids,” said Karen Bowman, environmental health specialist with the Washington State Nurses Association. “If the makers of children’s products won’t clean up their act, the Legislature needs to act. It’s time for the Legislature to protect kids by phasing out the use of these chemicals and getting them off store shelves.”
This year, the Washington State Legislature had the opportunity to ban the use of toxic flame retardants in children’s products under the Toxic-Free Kids and Families Act (HB 1174). However, despite passing the House twice on bipartisan votes of 95-3 and 95-2, it failed to get a vote in the Senate. The Legislature also had the opportunity to protect kids from harmful chemicals by passing a bill that would require the state to develop phase out plans for chemicals of concern for kids. This bill failed to get a vote in the Senate as well.
“I wish I could say I am surprised at the number of reports of chemicals in products, but I’m not. It’s beginning to feel like Groundhog Day. Harmful chemicals are reported in products yet manufacturers, as well as the Legislature, do nothing. It’s time for lawmakers to address the problem in a comprehensive way,” said Peter Bloch Garcia, executive director of Progreso/Latino Community Fund.
A searchable database of chemical use reports filed with the Washington State Department of Ecology is available at http://www.ecy.wa.gov/toxics/testing.html