New York has passed a law that will require manufacturers to disclose the use of potentially dangerous chemicals in children’s products, including clothing.

The new legislation (S.501B / A.6296A) requires manufacturers to disclose the use of chemicals in children’s products and requires the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to make this information public to consumers.

It is effective from 1 March and was signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo. The law covers products for children aged 12 and under including baby products, apparel, toys, car seats, school supplies, personal care products, teething and sucking toys, sleep or relaxation products, feeding products, novelty products, jewellery, bedding, furniture, and furnishings. 

“I remember full well the worry and apprehension felt every time my daughters left the house, but the potential dangers lurking in the home create another level of fear for a parent,” Cuomo says. “With these tough new standards, New Yorkers will finally have the peace of mind knowing their children are not being unwittingly exposed to toxic chemicals.” 

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos adds: “Strictly regulating the use of chemicals in children’s products is responsible for public policy. DEC is excited to undertake this important initiative which will prevent potentially hazardous chemicals from harming our children and the environment.”

Under the law, DEC will promulgate a list of chemicals of concern, which will define chemicals that have a specific hazard profile. Chemicals that have a specific hazard profile includes chemicals that have been identified by a government entity and/or identified on the basis of credible scientific evidence as a carcinogen, asthmagen, or reproductive or developmental toxicant.

Within 12 months of a chemical being identified as a chemical of concern, manufacturers will be required to disclose the use of that chemical and the bill will allow DEC to share this information with an online database used by other states that have similar programmes. DEC will promulgate a list of chemicals of concern within two years and the bill contains a list of chemicals that should be considered by the department. 

The bill also creates a category of high-priority chemicals and includes criteria for the department to add to the list of high-priority chemicals that will also be subject to disclosure. High-priority chemicals will be reviewed periodically to determine if such chemical should be subject to a prohibition, and manufacturers which use high-priority chemicals in their products would be required to notify retailers that the chemical is contained within a product. 

In addition, the bill would also create a children’s product safety council that will advise DEC on additional chemicals that should be added to a list of high-priority chemicals and chemicals that should be prohibited from use in a children’s product based on the potential for exposure to such chemical. 

Steven Englebright, chair of Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee, says: “Children are more sensitive to and are at increased risk from chemical exposure. The passage of this legislation is an important step to protect children from unnecessary health risks caused by dangerous chemicals found in children’s products. As the Assembly has passed this legislation for many years, I am delighted that this work has finally resulted in a new law to protect New York’s children.”