Getting Toxic Chemicals Out of Children’s Toys and Clothing!

Harmful chemicals like arsenic and mercury that are scientifically linked to health impacts in children are found in thousands of consumer products, including personal care products, children’s toys, and clothing. It is unacceptable. And children from lower income communities are disproportionately exposed to more toxic chemicals and external pollution. Due due to their size and age, children are far more vulnerable to toxic chemicals than adults.

Federal law doesn’t require manufacturers to tell consumers when toxic chemicals are in products made for kids. As such, Oregon and other states worked in to fill in the gaps. After years of advocacy by OEC, the Oregon Toxic Free Kids Act (TFKA) passed in 2015 (as a bipartisan law!) to require toy and children’s products manufacturers to report and disclose high priority chemicals of concern found in children’s products.

Key Elements of TFKA:

  • It creates a science-based list of chemicals of concern for children’s health. There are currently 68 toxic chemicals
  • Manufacturers must file reports to the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) if their children’s products contain a listed chemical of concern. These reports are publicly available for consumers.
  • It requires the phase out of toxic chemicals by 2022 or allows substitution with safer alternatives in certain children’s products (i.e., children’s cosmetics).
  • It allows manufacturers to seek exemptions when manufacturers can prove that there is no potential for exposure from their products.

Since 2015, over 4,000 reports were filed by manufacturers on chemicals of concern used in kids’ products—including arsenic, phthalates, and formaldehyde. Starting in 2022, TFKA requires that children’s toy manufacturers remove toxic chemicals out of their products or use safer alternatives. And because all major manufacturers who want to sell children’s products in our state must meet these requirements, we can ensure that all children’s products on the shelves will be safer– and not just the ones that higher income families can afford.

What’s Next?

Capitol

Back to the legislature we go!

In July 2020, Oregon Health Authority wrapped up their third and final phase of rulemaking to implement this critical law. OEC and its allies turned out dozens of supporters and advocated for the strongest protections possible to protect children’s health. We are currently waiting for the final rules to be published and officiated into regulations.

For the 2021 legislative session, one of OEC’s legislative priorities  will be making the existing Toxic Free Kids framework more efficient and even more protective of children’ health via HB 2495. Read more here.