White Plains, NY - Westchester County Board of Legislators (BOL) Majority Leader Catherine Borgia (D-Ossining) recently introduced legislation requiring retailers to test toys for sale which may contain certain dangerous chemicals, thus potentially preventing them from ever reaching county residents, and today, along with several of her colleagues from the Democratic Caucus, she joined health and environmental advocates to unveil a report at a special press conference detailing the presence of toxic chemicals like mercury and cadmium in children’s products. The dangerous chemicals have been linked to cancer, cognitive impairments, hyperactivity and genetic disorders in children. All of the items tested were purchased in Westchester County over the last several weeks.

The report is a joint project of Clean and Healthy New York and the New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund.

“As we enter into this holiday season, it is important to keep in mind the safety of the toys we give our children,” said Borgia. “Many toys that retailers currently have for sale may contain poisonous chemicals, which can result in serious illness to those who come into contact with them. The use of safety equipment to adequately test these potentially dangerous toys can help to block some of them from ever reaching our communities.”

Also in attendance at today’s press conference were several BOL Democratic caucus members, including Legislators Pete Harckham (D-North Salem), MaryJane Shimsky (D-Hastings-on-Hudson) and Catherine Parker (D-Rye), who are co-sponsors of the toxic toy legislation that Borgia has introduced.

“Most parents probably never realize that innocent seeming toys may actually have toxic effects on their children,” said Harckham. “It makes sense to require retailers to place only safe products on their shelves, and legislation directing them to do so would be a matter of good public health policy.”

“Our responsibility as legislators is to craft laws that keep county residents protected and safe from dangerous and toxic consumer goods,” said Parker, chair of the BOL Environment & Energy Committee. “As a safeguard measure to ensure that when toys are purchased and brought into their homes, we want to make sure they are tested for chemicals and materials that may pose adverse health risks. So I look forward to working with Majority Leader Borgia and my colleagues on the Board in moving this law forward at the beginning of the new year.”

Bobbi Chase Wilding, Deputy Director of Clean & Healthy New York, demonstrated a special x-ray detector at the press conference that was able to confirm whether various toys had toxic chemicals and elements in them or not.

“Seeing how easy it is to determine whether toys have been manufactured with toxic and poisonous materials, I know many residents will be put at ease with legislation that protects them from potentially hazardous toys for sale in local toy shops and stores,” said Shimsky.

“It’s been known for some time that toys, especially those manufactured overseas, contain materials that can cause health problems, and so increasing our vigilance against these kinds of consumer goods make sense,” said Legislator Alfreda Williams (D-Greenburgh), chair of the BOL Community Services Committee and a member of the Westchester County Board of Health.

The “Toxic Toys in Westchester County" report identified several toxic substances in numerous products:

  • Antimony in six products: jewelry, clothing, a doll, a key chain and a toy train.
  • Cadmium in eight products: a keychain, jewelry, clothing, toy cars, a toy train and a penlight.
  • Cobalt in four products: a keychain, jewelry and accessories.
  • Lead in three products: jewelry and accessories.
  • Mercury in two products: in a wooden flower necklace and toy cars.

Researchers visited Target, Party City, Walmart, The Children’s Place, Macy’s, Spencer’s and Lord & Taylor stores in Westchester County in November and December 2014.

“This report confirms that action is needed to protect the health of families in Westchester,” said Marcia Bystryn, President of the New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund. “It’s horrifying to consider that a well-intended gift might contain secret toxins. 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, so they can make informed decisions about their families’ health.”