After a Decade of Sustained Advocacy, New York State Passes Legislation to Identify and Remove Toxic Chemicals from Children’s Products
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 1, 2019
Contact: Chris Dobens, 212-961-1000 ext. 320, firstname.lastname@example.org
ALBANY, NY — As WE ACT for Environmental Justice’s staff and members met with New York State legislators in Albany, New York to discuss four legislative priorities regarding toxic chemicals in everything from food to personal care products yesterday, we were rewarded with a hard-earned victory in the passage of the Child Safe Products Act as part of an Earth Day package of bills. The bill calls on the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to create two lists of toxic chemicals (chemicals of concern and dangerous chemicals), requires manufacturers to disclose the use of these chemicals in any children’s products offered for sale in New York, alert retailers to their presence, and ultimately phase out the use of the most dangerous chemicals in products manufactured for children by January 1, 2023.
“We have been working with Clean and Healthy New York as co-leaders of the JustGreen Partnership for a decade to get this legislation passed,” said Cecil Corbin-Mark, Deputy Director and Director of Policy Initiatives at WE ACT for Environmental Justice. “And we are proud to have joined forces with Senator Todd Kaminsky, representing the 9th New York State Senate district on Long Island’s South Shore and the chair of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee, and Assemblyman Steve Englebright, representing the 4th New York State Assembly district on Long Island and chair of the Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee, as their leadership has made the difference. The parents of New York owe both a debt for making this law possible.
“We also must applaud the leadership of New York State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins. They often say when you want to get something done you put a woman in charge. Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins is a rare unicorn in Albany politics – a woman of African descent who broke into the three men in a room and leads with conviction to do the right thing by the people, especially children. In 2015, Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins was then the Minority Leader and I met with her to brief her on the Child Safe Products Act. She listened and asked thoughtful questions. When our meeting concluded, she said it is just common sense that children’s products should not have dangerous toxic chemicals, and she then took the very unusual and ‘unpolitical’ step for a leader to become a co-sponsor of the bill. It was an act of principled leadership that demonstrated exactly who Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins is – an elegant, smart, principled unicorn in Albany politics. WE ACT is grateful for her steadfast commitment to protecting the children of this state from dangerous toxic chemicals.
“One of the many things that we were responsible for was making sure that the law would require children’s products manufacturers to disclose if their products contained chemicals that trigger asthma, known as asthmagens,” added Corbin-Mark. “Asthma is an epidemic in many low-income communities and communities of color, where parents cannot afford to buy their way out of the problem of toxic toys and other toxic children’s products.”
We have worked with the New York State Governor’s office on protecting New Yorkers from toxic chemicals in cleaning products, and we thank the Governor for his leadership on these issues and look forward to him signing the Child Safe Products Act into law.
Through the JustGreen Partnership, WE ACT and Clean and Healthy New York are continuing to work with New York State legislators to address the prevalence of toxic chemicals in other products. And WE ACT has identified a number of specific issues it will focus on as part of its current State Policy Agenda, including banning the use of mercury in personal care products, requiring manufacturers of feminine care products to disclose the ingredients in their products, strengthening the lead in school drinking water law, and reducing PFAS in food packaging and firefighting foam.
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WE ACT for Environmental Justice is a Northern Manhattan membership-based organization whose mission is to build healthy communities by ensuring that people of color and/or low-income residents participate meaningfully in the creation of sound and fair environmental health and protection policies and practices. WE ACT has offices in New York and Washington, D.C. Visit us at weact.org and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.