Report Finds Toxic Chemicals In Albany County Toys

Articles | November 17, 2014

Popular toys and children’s products being sold in Albany County contain toxic chemicals that pose health risks to children, according a new survey.  Researchers found a dozen toys on store shelves containing lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium and more – toxic chemicals that have been linked to cancers, cognitive impairments and hyperactivity.

The report, “Toxic Toys in Albany County,” was released at a news conference in downtown Albany by Clean and Healthy New York and the New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund.

“This report confirms that action is needed to protect the health of families in the Capital Region,” said Marcia Bystryn, President of the New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund. “Toxic chemicals have no place in children’s toys, and they should not be on store shelves for sale. Parents deserve the right to know what dangers are lurking in the products they bring home, so they can make informed decisions about their families’ health.”

“It’s troubling to discover that heavy metals are still on store shelves, despite everything we know about their ability to harm kids’ health,” said Bobbi Chase Wilding, Deputy Director for Clean and Healthy New York. “The twelve items we found here show that action is needed.  Parents won’t be able to tell which items are safe and which are toxic, and frankly, they shouldn’t have to worry about this in the first place.”

“Toxic Toys in Albany County” identified 12 children’s toys and products that were purchased from stores in Albany County purchased in October and November. Antimony was detected in three products: arsenic in three products; cadmium in two products; cobalt in six products; lead in five products; and mercury in three products. According to the report, in three products, heavy metals made up more than 10 percent of the item tested.  One product, a fairy bracelet charm, was composed of nearly 25 percent cadmium.

Some products contained multiple hazards, such as a girl’s hair clip with cobalt and lead, and a do-it-yourself jewelry kit with beads and charms that contained arsenic, lead, mercury, antimony and cadmium.

Decades worth of scientific research shows toxic chemicals are linked to health problems including cancer, hormone disruption and harm to the developing brain. Children are uniquely vulnerable because they eat, drink and breathe more, pound for pound, than adults, put their hands and objects in their mouths more often, and are undergoing developmental stages that are sensitive to disruption from environmental chemicals.

The products were tested using an X-Ray Fluorescence Analyzer (“XRF Analyzer”), a portable device that can detect levels of chemicals on the surface of almost any object.  The XRF is an accurate device that has been used by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to screen packaging, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration to screen food, and many state and county health departments to screen for residential lead paint.

Only a tiny fraction of the children’s products for sale in Albany County were tested, and the report’s author said that it was not intended to be a comprehensive report on the safety of any product or brand.

In the U.S. Congress, legislation to overhaul the 35-year old Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) has been stalled for 10 years.  Meanwhile, more and more states are passing laws to address toxic threats in response to the failure of the federal law regulating chemicals. Unfortunately, New York State is not yet one of them.

“I introduced the Toxic-Free Toys Act as an Albany County legislator to protect our families and children.  This report shows how urgent that need is,” said Legisaltor Bryan Clenahan, who represents District 30 in Guilderland.

Advocates called on county lawmakers to implement policies to protect children from the chemicals they found in the toys and products.  The Albany County Legislature is scheduled to examine the issue at a public hearing on November 25th at 7:15 p.m.

Click here to download a full copy (low-res) of “Toxic Toys in Albany County.”

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The New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund (NYLCVEF) engages and educates New Yorkers on environmental issues and the environmental decision-making processes at the local, regional, state and federal government levels. Learn more at www.nylcvef.org.

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