Moms protest ‘toxic’ toys

Moms gather by a “toxic” toy bin on Broadway and 25th Street to protest an industry lawsuit. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Moms gather by a “toxic” toy bin on Broadway and 25th Street to protest an industry lawsuit. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

A coalition of moms protesting hazardous chemicals and metals used in toys descended upon the headquarters of the Toy Industry Association on Tuesday morning, toting with them a collection of “toxic toys.”

Toys these days, they said, can include chemicals like benzene, cadmium and even formaldehyde. They gave an example in two of the toys that were on display in a trash bin, a soccer ball and a padded mat, which they said had lead. Two of the moms added they’ve even tested toys themselves and found chemicals in them.

One of them was Tenye Steele, who has two daughters. “I am always having to tell them, ‘Please take that out of your mouth’, ‘please don’t chew on that,’” she said. “I used to work with chemicals so I understand that chemicals are needed to make things, but it doesn’t take a physical scientist to understand that toxic chemicals should not be in children’s toys. It could be one less thing I have to worry about.”

The group held its press conference across the street from the Toy Industry Association’s building on 25th Street and Broadway, after being shooed away from the front of the building by an employee there. The location was chosen as a response to a federal lawsuit filed in Albany by a group of toy manufacturers fighting a local law that sets which levels of chemicals in products are acceptable. The suit is fighting it by arguing that there’s already a similar federal law and sufficient safety provisions in place.

The moms who came to speak were members of the League of Conservation Voters and the JustGreen Partnership.

In response to their concerns, the Toy Industry Association issued a statement saying that many of the chemicals found in toys pose no health risk and that the industry is always working to make products safer.

“Every ingredient that is considered for use in a toy is fully vetted to ensure that it does not compromise children’s safety,” the TIA statement read.
“Many of the substances alleged to have been found in toys by Clean and Healthy New York are not intentionally added – they are often naturally occurring and are present in such miniscule amounts that they present no health risk, and it is scientifically impossible to completely remove them. The extremely restrictive federal requirements for the presence of chemicals in toys give careful consideration to exposure, if any, and whether any risk to health might exist.

“TIA continually partners with physicians, scientists, government officials and consumer groups who help us meaningfully reinforce the safety of toys. The law passed in Albany County (Local Law No. J), however, does nothing to improve product safety. It merely prevents families in New York from buying the same certified, safe playthings that are available in other communities across the country.”

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