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Hochul signs legislation protecting New Yorkers from lead exposure in Christmas & holiday decorations


Tue, Nov 30th 2021 03:20 pm

Legislation (S.05675a/A.4522a) requires warning labels for lead coatings used in seasonal and decorative lighting products

Gov. Kathy Hochul signed legislation (S.05675/A.4522) into law to protect New Yorkers from lead exposure from Christmas lights and other holiday decorations by requiring a warning label for certain products that use lead-based electrical cord casings. The legislation defines seasonal and decorative lighting products, requires a proper warning label, and mandates a fine for any manufacturer who violates this legislation.

"As we decorate our homes for the holidays, New Yorkers shouldn't have to worry about accidentally exposing children and loved ones to lead poisoning," Hochul said. "This legislation is a simple, common-sense way to keep New Yorkers safe as we participate in beloved holiday traditions. Let's have a safe, healthy and happy holiday season."

The new law defines "seasonal and decorative lighting product" (SADLP) and requires that each SADLP manufactured, sold or distributed in New York that has an electrical cord casing in which lead is present in a quantity greater than 100 parts per million must have a warning. The label must read, "Warning: handling the coated electrical wire of this product may expose you to lead. Wash hands thoroughly after use."

Any manufacturer who violates this shall be subject to a fine of $500.

Hochul’s team said, “Decorative and seasonal holiday lights have been shown to contain potentially unsafe levels of lead. Several independent studies, which followed the Consumer Product Safety Commission's standard wipe test to see how much lead would come off on someone's hands, revealed that some brands contained more than 30 times the levels regulators permit in children's products. One 2008 study published in the Journal of Environmental Health, found that nearly all the light sets tested had levels that surpassed the Environmental Protection Agency's limit for windowsills and floors.

“Exposure to lead has been repeatedly proven to be attributed to serious health problems including attacks on the brain and central nervous system, heart and kidney disease, reduced fertility and depression, and severe consequences for children. According to the World Health Organization, there is no safe blood level concentration. While federal law bans the sale and manufacture of lead in house paint and gasoline and New York enacts stringent limits only on paint on children's toys and furniture and some glazed tableware, the sale of most other consumer products containing lead in the state are not as strictly regulated.

“Holiday/decorative lights – the vast majority of them manufactured overseas – have lead applied to wire covering to keep the plastic from cracking, and acts as a flame retardant. As lead is not readily absorbed through skin, the main worry regarding exposure stems from ingesting the traces that are left on the bands of a person after they have finished handling the lights. This bill would require any products containing lead, sold in the state of New York, to have an explicit warning label advising that the product may expose the consumer to the substance with clear instructions to wash hands.

New York State Sen. Elijah Reichlin-Melnick said, "Decorating for the holidays should never put your family's health at risk, but many decorative lighting products contain lead in quantities that are harmful to both children and adults. Lead has been taken out of gasoline, paint and dozens of other household products in the last five decades because it is poisonous and does irreparable harm to developing minds."

Assembly member Sandy Galef said, "We know lead compromises our health, and we must take every action we can to restrict its use. This new law is a step to do that, and also serves to educate our communities about the prevalence of lead in everyday items as people decorate for the holidays.”

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