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June 2013

A Win for Baby

Fewer Toxic Chemicals in Gear for Tots

Thanks to pressure on manufacturers from Clean and Healthy New York, parents have one less thing to worry about.

This baby sits with a breastfeeding pillow made from polyethylene foam, which contains toxic flame retardants.
Fewer chemicals will be used in nursing pillows, mattresses, and other supplies for wee ones. The organization convinced Graco, Britax, and Orbit Baby to voluntarily remove some of the most toxic flame retardants from their infant product lines. Since 2008, $150,000 in grants have helped lay the groundwork for this victory. Most recently, the group co-authored a report on the toxicity of baby products featuring these and other companies. Halogenated flame retardants, commonly found in polyurethane foam, have been shown to cause reproductive, thyroid, endocrine, developmental, and neurological disorders, lowered fertility, and hyperactivity.

This year, Clean and Healthy New York will use a $50,000 grant to build on this success and work with other members of the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families campaign to pass the federal Safe Chemicals Act. On the State level, it will work to win passage of the Child Safe Product Act, which would identify the most dangerous chemicals in all infant and children’s products, require manufacturer disclosure of their use, and establish a timeline to phase them out.

“While passing broad safe-chemical legislation is absolutely essential for our health and safety, it is a slow process,” says Pat Jenny, acting vice president for programs at The Trust. “On the other hand, manufacturers and retailers can act quickly and are responsive to consumer demand and public pressure.” Continuing to fight on both fronts, Clean and Healthy New York also is creating a Getting Ready for Baby scorecard to move Babies “R” Us and Buy Buy Baby to curtail the sale of goods that contain one or more dangerous chemicals.

“Making sure materials containing toxic chemicals are replaced by genuinely safer ingredients in a global supply chain can be challenging,” says Kathy Curtis, director of Clean and Healthy New York. “We will continue to monitor what baby gear is made of to make sure manufacturers are on the right track.”

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The New York Community Trust is a 501(c)3 public charity.

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