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Health and Consumer Advocates Support Bill to Expand Consumer Right-to-Know on Toxic Chemicals in Electronic Products

Olympia, WA – Today health and consumer advocates travelled to Olympia to testify in favor of a bill to require makers of kids’ electronic products to report the use of harmful chemicals in their products. Products covered include game consoles like Xbox, computers, and tablets.

The bill will close a loophole in state law that exempts electronic products from a requirement that manufacturers of toys, clothing, and other kids’ products report the presence of chemicals the state determines are a concern for children’s health. These chemicals include phthalates, cadmium, and toxic flame retardants. The Children’s Safe Electronics Act (HB 1596), sponsored by Rep. Beth Doglio (D-Olympia), will close this loophole.

Several studies show chemicals used in electronic products, like toxic flame retardants, can escape the products and contaminate air and household dust. Adults and children are then exposed when they breathe or ingest the dust. Other chemicals in electronics can include lead, mercury, cadmium, and phthalates. These chemicals are linked to a variety of health impacts including loss of IQ (lead), cancer (cadmium), nervous system harm (mercury), and hormone disruption (phthalates).

State Representative Beth Doglio (D-Olympia) said “Kids are spending more and more time using electronic products in homes and in school. As parents we have a right to know the chemicals our kids are being exposed to when they use these products. The existing chemical reporting law has been very successful. Expanding the law to include electronic products will give parents and policymakers much needed information about the chemicals in our daily lives.”

The current state chemical reporting law was passed in 2008 in response to high levels of lead and cadmium in children’s toys. Since its passage, companies like The Gap and Walmart report annually the presence of 66 chemicals of concern for children. The Department of Ecology maintains an online public database of those reports. The law has also served as an incentive to companies to stop using these chemicals in favor of safer alternatives.

Erika Schreder, science director for Toxic-Free Future said, “We know these products contain harmful chemicals, but we don’t know which ones or the extent of the problem. The Children’s Safe Electronics Act will fill this data gap and give parents, policymakers, and scientists a better understanding of the problem so that we can develop meaningful solutions.”

Dr. Jennifer Klein said, “As a physician and a mother, I am extremely concerned about harmful chemicals in children’s products. Chemicals such as phthalates and toxic flame retardants have no business in our kids’ products. Children’s bodies are especially sensitive to toxic chemical exposure. The more we know about the presence of these chemicals, the better we can protect our health. I thank Representative Doglio for bringing this bill forward, and strongly urge the Legislature to pass it.”

Opponents of the law include the Consumer Technology Association, Association of Washington Business, American Chemistry Council, and the Toy Industry Association.

Click here to find out more.

Toxic-Free Future (formerly Washington Toxics Coalition) advocates for and wins strong science-based health protections for people and the environment.

Please contact Ivy Sager-Rosenthal, (206) 854-7623, [email protected], to arrange one-on-one interviews.


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