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

Harmful chemicals like lead, 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 Toxic Free Kids Act:

  • 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?


Back to the legislature we go!

In July 2020, Oregon Health Authority completed the third and final phase of rulemaking to implement the 2015 law. OEC and its allies turned out dozens of supporters to advocate for the strongest possible protections for child health. In December 2022, the Toy Association and its allies filed a lawsuit against those final rules. While the lawsuit was ultimately dismissed by the federal district court, the group filed an appeal in the 9th Circuit.

In 2023, the Oregon Legislature passed HB 3043 modernizing TFKA. The new rules allow the Oregon Health Authority to regulate all classes of chemicals, removing former limits on the number of chemicals OHA could regulate.

OEC continues to engage in TFKA rulemaking to defend strong rules on toxics.