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New toxic toy law not exactly cause for celebration

Monday, April 7, 2008

toxic toys in Washington StateEd. note: This post is by EWG's social media intern Akua, who gets to spend most of her time playing around on MySpace and reading blogs -- lucky woman.

Last week, Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire (partially) signed into law what is being praised by some as the “toughest toy law in the US." I know I should be euphoric but all I feel is overwhelming sadness. It’s the year 2008 and the citizens of the world’s greatest power have finally achieved a ban on three chemicals that we have known to be toxic for years. In one U.S state. I don’t know about you but the gravity of the situation doesn’t make me want to jump for joy. It makes me want to cry.

The Children’s Safe Products Act is set to go into effect in January 2009 and will ban the manufacture, sale, or distribution of toys and cosmetics that contain lead, cadmium, or phthalates and are intended for children under 12. A helpful provision in the bill states that new high priority chemicals can be added to the list if, through bio-monitoring studies, they are found to be present in umbilical cord blood or human tissue. EWG seems to be a step ahead of them on this, since we found 287 toxic chemicals in umbilical cord blood several years ago. Perhaps we should save them some time by forwarding them the list?

What is it going to take for our nation to come together and pass a comprehensive law to protect those who cannot speak for themselves? Gov. Gregoire should be given credit for (partially) signing the bill. But she still dropped the ball when she vetoed portions that would allow the public to make more informed decisions about their purchases. As it stands, she has proposed changes to the bill that appear to limit public accessibility to information about the toxic chemical ingredients in toys. Specifically, she took issue with parts of the bill that called for the construction of a website that would provide consumers with up-to-date information about which products contained toxic ingredients.