Report reveals presence of arsenic, mercury and other chemicals in children's toys and products locally
County executive urges action, joins call for safe children's products
Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz was joined Tuesday by Deputy Director of Clean & Healthy NY Bobbi Chase Wilding and Director of Public Policy and Government Affairs for the NY League of Conservation Voters' Education Fund Christopher Goeken to release the "Toxic Toys in Erie County" report recently completed by Clean & Healthy NY and the NYLCVEF. The report highlights a dozen children's toys and products found on store shelves in Erie County purchased in March that contain toxic chemicals and heavy metals such as mercury, arsenic, lead and cadmium.
"It is disturbing to see harmful chemicals and heavy metals in children's products, as parents and caregivers are unaware that they are putting their children at risk when they purchase these items," Poloncarz said. "We need to protect all of our residents, especially children, from these dangerous environmental toxins. Banning these products from store shelves and educating residents on these invisible but harmful hazards are good steps towards a healthier, cleaner community.
"I urge the Erie County Legislature to act in conjunction with their colleagues across New York state to protect our community and enact a ban on dangerous chemicals in children's products."
Similar reports were released in Albany and Westchester counties, as well as Long Island. Albany County recently banned the use of seven toxic chemicals and heavy metals in children's products, and similar laws are making their way through the Westchester and Suffolk county legislatures. Upcoming reports are scheduled for release in Monroe County and Syracuse.
"No parent wants to find out that the clothes, jewelry or toys they give their children contain chemicals that could hurt them," Wilding said. "Yet our testing confirms this reality. Companies are able to make children's products without toxic chemicals - that means they have no excuse for not doing so, and the law should require it."
Last month, the survey report visited six Erie County retailers (Target, Macy's, Spencer's, Party City, Justice and The Dollar Store) and tested a variety of toys, accessories, novelty products and apparel. Products were tested using a handheld X-ray fluorescence ("XRF Analyzer") device. The report only documented products that contained chemicals of concern, and revealed arsenic in two products, antimony in two products, cadmium in eight products, cobalt in six products, mercury in one product, and lead in one product.
"This report confirms that action is needed to protect the health of families in Erie County," 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."
Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein added, "The Clean and Healthy New York report demonstrates that toxic heavy metals are found in many popular children's products sold at stores frequented by Erie County residents. Scientific studies have linked a number of these heavy metals to serious health outcomes, such as learning and developmental disabilities, genetic abnormalities, hyperactivity, asthma, infertility and cancer. Children deserve to play with toys that are safe and toxin-free."
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