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February is Health Equity Month #ChildrenAtTheCenter
This month we partner with We Act for Environmental Justice to share with you an important issue about the safety of children's toys and products, especially those sold by retailers that target consumers with lower incomes. Continue reading or download and print the PDF version of this month's theme to share with others!
Are Your Children's Products Safe?
Toy products are widely available in many stores, so it is easy to assume that they are safe for our kids. However, they often contain toxic chemicals that lead to unsafe and unnecessary exposures to our children. It is not easy to tell which products contain toxic chemicals by looking at them. Even the most well-informed parents are not able to protect their families.
In 2014, makers of children’s products listed the use of toxic chemicals at least 11,000 times in their reports. The same year, makers of children’s products reported the toxic chemicals that were used at least once in their products, including BPA, arsenic, cadmium, and mercury. Currently, there are over 80,000 chemicals used in our products, of which a majority have not been regulated or studied.
These chemicals have the potential to harm our children’s health, causing asthma, lowering IQs, and damaging organs such as lungs, kidneys, and livers. Due to children’s quickly developing brains and growing bodies, they have higher risk of harm from these exposures.
Children living in communities of color and low income communities are more likely to be unfairly exposed to toxic chemicals. Many families in these communities rely on dollar stores for items like food, clothing, and toys. Unfortunately, many items at the dollar store are also highly toxic. A recent study found that a majority of dollar store products have at least one toxic chemical in them.
Despite these hidden health risks, many cities and states have no laws that require children product makers to label or ban toxic chemicals in their products. Current regulations are not enough to protect our children, our families, and our communities from these toxic chemicals. Luckily, health burdens caused by toxic exposures can be easily prevented by reducing opportunities for contact, which has been successful in past campaigns.
What Can Individuals and Organizations Do?
Ban use in children's products:
Advocate for legislation that would get rid of harmful chemicals, protecting millions of children from the dangers posed by heavy metals.
- WE ACT is working on a New York state legislation that creates guidelines for chemicals found in children’s products, such as toy jewelry and sippy cups, that are of high concern to children.
- Share your story with federal, state, or local representative on the need for better regulations.
- Check www.regulations.gov for opportunities to provide public comment on this topic.
Urge children’s product makers to stop using toxic chemicals in their products:
Since there are many alternatives available to using toxic chemicals in products, call upon makers to stop using them.
- Support children’s product makers that do make toxic free products by buying their products.
Urge retailers to refuse to sell children’s products with toxic chemicals:
Retailers should make sure that products on their shelves are free of toxic chemicals.
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Click here to help us continue to bring together and highlight the critical work being done to protect children's health, galvanize support, and motivate society to take action.