Toxic Free Kids Act in its final implementation stages!

OEC pushed the Oregon Health Authority to adopt the most protective standards possible and to minimize exemptions! 

OEC is excited to announce that the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) is in its final stages of implementing the critical Oregon Toxic Free Kids Act (TKFA) to protect children’s health. Over the last 6 years, OEC has been advocating for robust protections at every step of this law’s implementation process, fighting off industry-led attacks to weaken the law.

Background:

TFKA was passed in 2015 to hold companies accountable for the safety of their children’s products.  

  • It creates a science-based list of chemicals of concern for children’s health that includes 68 toxic chemicals of concern.
  • Manufacturers must report to the Oregon Health Authority if their children’s products contain any listed chemicals of concern. These reports are publicly available for consumers.
  • There must be eventual phaseout of these chemicals in certain children’s products (e.g. children’s cosmetics; mouthable products; products for children under 3 years of age) or a manufacturer must seek a waiver from the agency. Safer alternatives must be used.
  • Exemptions are allowed when manufacturers can prove that there is no potential for exposure from their products.

Studies have linked toxic chemicals to life-long health ailments such as hormonal disruptions, learning impediments, and developmental disabilities in children. Due to TFKA’s reporting requirements, we have discovered that toxic chemicals like phthalates, arsenic and mercury are found in thousands of children’s toys and personal care products. Requiring reporting and phaseouts of these chemicals will lead manufacturers to develop better, safer products for all kids. Kids are more vulnerable to chemicals because their bodies are smaller and still developing. And TFKA was designed to ensure all kids are protected. The requirement to phase out, rather than just label, toxic chemicals means that products are safer for families at all income levels. 

The current final phase of rulemaking focuses on the exemptions manufacturers may seek if they are unable to completely phase out these toxic chemicals. If waivers are granted easily, the law simply won’t protect our children because then manufacturers can continue on with business as usual.

Oregon Environmental Council and our partners turned out to testify at OHA’s public hearing on July 16th 2020, and we submitted extensive written comments on July 23rd, pushing the Oregon Health Authority to minimize the use of exemptions. With the help of our allies, a dozen folks turned out to the virtual hearing to testify, over 35 written comments were submitted in support of strong protections, and 400 people have signed our petition demanding stronger protections during this rule-making! Specifically, we requested that waivers only be granted to manufacturers if there is no reasonable expectation that a product could result in toxic chemical exposure (i.e. through breakage or leaching). We also urged OHA to provide transparency when granting waivers. Oregon families deserve to know if a manufacturer is allowed to continue to use a toxic chemical in a children’s product so that they can make educated buying decisions.

What’s Next?
The public commenting period for the last phase of TFKA rulemaking wrapped up on July 23rd. Next, OHA must finalize these rules in order for TFKA to be fully enforceable. Once that happens, OEC will continue watchdogging the law to ensure that manufacturers are abiding by its requirements.

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