Environmental and health advocates call on Massachusetts legislators to get toxic chemicals out of children’s products
BOSTON--Silent Spring Institute published a peer-reviewed article today that details how widespread per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are in children’s products, including clothes, bedding, and furnishings. In response, the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow, a coalition of 60 environmental and public health nonprofits, called upon Massachusetts state legislators to pass pending bills that would protect Massachusetts’ children from PFAS and other toxic chemicals.
The Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow, led by Clean Water Action, is urging Massachusetts legislators to ban PFAS in children’s products and to gather better data on other potentially harmful chemicals that may be in toys, clothing, cosmetics, bedding and other items for children under 12.
“Parents want to keep their kids safe, but they can’t act on what they don’t know,” says Elizabeth Saunders, Massachusetts Director at Clean Water Action, “It is outrageous that manufacturers have lied to consumers by adding PFAS to products and then labelling them “green” or “nontoxic.”
Massachusetts legislators have until the end of July to take action on several bills that were filed this session to address children’s safety. One of these is S.207 An Act relative to toxic free kids. Introduced by Senator Cynthia Friedman (D-Arlington, this bill requires the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection to create a list of toxic chemicals, including PFAS. Businesses must submit disclosure reports if any of the listed chemicals are in children’s products they sell or manufacture in Massahcusetts.
Representative James Hawkins (D-Attleboro) has filed H.939 An Act for Massachusetts Toxic Free Kids which also requires disclosurer reports but goes a step further, banning eight toxic chemicals and the entire PFAS class from children’s products.
“S.207 is a commonsense proposal, and similar legislation has been introduced in prior sessions,” said Senator Friedman, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “This bill enhances the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection’s oversight of toxic chemicals, with the assistance of the Interstate Chemicals Clearinghouse, and works to remove toxic chemicals from children’s products by regulating manufacturers who are putting unsafe products in the hands of our children. It is time to pass this legislation.”
Maine, New York, Vermont, Oregon, and Washington all have disclosure laws for children’s products.
In addition, California and New York have already passed bills banning PFAS in children’s products.
Clean Water Action, MASSPIRG, Massachusetts Sierra Club, Built Environment Plus, Conservation Law Foundation, Community Action Works, Environment Massachusetts, Clean Production Action, Green Newton, HealthLink, Nantucket PFAS Action Group, Seaside Sustainability and are among the AHT members calling for action..
Over the past sixty years, more than 85,000 chemicals have been introduced into commerce, most without any pre-market safety testing. 1 Children born today are exposed to a wide array of pollutants that previous generations did not encounter. While many exposures come from air, food and water, children are also exposed to toxic chemicals from consumer products, including toys, furniture, building materials, carpets, rugs, and personal care products.
Environmental exposures appear to be contributing to rising rates of illness. Childhood illnesses, particularly childhood cancer and neurodevelopmental diseases, are on the rise in the United States. Childhood cancers increased 41% from 1975 to 2018. Rates of neurodevelopmental diseases among children 3-17 increased 13.8% between 1997 and 2008 and another 9.5% between 2009 and 2017, with the sharpest increases in rates of autism and attention deficit disorder.
Laura Spark, Senior Policy Advocate at Clean Water Action, and a mother of two, says “Children’s products should not be made with hidden chemicals that can make kids sick. That’s why we need to ban PFAS. And that’s why we need businesses to report on other toxic chemicals in items marketed to children.”
 Levine, David, 2020 Childhood Cancer Prevention Initiative, Childhood Cancer: Cross Sector Strategies for Prevention at: https://www.cancerfreeeconomy.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/CFE_ChildhoodCancerPrevention_Report_F2.pdf