For Immediate Release: December 21, 2007
Dr. Mike Shriberg, Ecology Center: 734-904-7015
Molly Polverento, Michigan Environmental Council: 517-881-1234
Laura Russello, Clean Water Action: 734-972-0378
Toxic Toys for Tots? Michigan Takes a Stand
Granholm, legislature OK bills limiting lead in children’s products
Lansing, MI – Health, environmental and child advocacy groups praised legislation signed today by Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm that limits toxic lead in children’s products.
The protection comes amid public furor over recalls of children’s toys because of very high lead levels and just weeks after the Ecology Center, the Michigan Network for Children’s Environmental Health, and partner organizations released www.healthytoys.org, the first consumer action guide to toxic chemicals in toys. The new Michigan standards protect children from high lead levels in products including toys, childcare articles, lunchboxes, and children’s jewelry. The rules fill a void in federal laws, which currently apply only to lead levels in paint.
“Lead has no place in children’s products because there is no safe level of lead exposure for children,” said Mike Shriberg, Ph.D., Policy Director for the Ecology Center and the Michigan Network for Children’s Environmental Health. “These bills are the beginning of a long path to protecting children from a wide array of toxics in products.”
Lead is a dangerous neurotoxicant that can permanently damage the brains, internal organs, and nervous systems of children. Michigan has the 6th highest rate of childhood lead poisoning in the nation.
The Michigan bills (SB 174, HB 4132 & 4399) outlaw the sale or manufacture of toys and childcare articles, jewelry, or lunchboxes that contain lead at levels above 600 parts per million (ppm). Michigan environmental and health groups praised Governor Granholm, Senator Roger Kahn, Representative Ed Gaffney, Representative Andy Coulouris and Representative Lisa Wojno for their hard work on these bills.
House Bill HB 4936, which reconstitutes the Michigan Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention and Control Commission, also became law as part of this package of bills. This bill requires the Lead Commission to (by March 31, 2008) assess the 600 ppm standard and determine if it is protective enough for Michigan’s children. This is significant because while these bills are a useful first step, health experts say a truly protective limit must be lower; 600 ppm is merely the standard used for recalls by the federal Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) for lead in paint. This level fails to account for newer research on the hazards lead poses even at very low levels. The American Academy of Pediatrics recently recommended children’s products should contain no more 40 ppm of lead.
“We expect the Lead Commission to follow the advice of pediatricians and recommend that the Legislature lower the threshold for lead in children’s products to 40 ppm,” said Shriberg. “This is the level most protective of Michigan’s children.”
“Lead in toys is but one example of hazards from toxics that face Michigan’s children,” said Molly Polverento, Health Policy Director for the Michigan Environmental Council. “Children’s products have been found to contain mercury, cadmium, antimony, arsenic, and other toxic chemicals in addition to lead that just shouldn’t be in kid’s toys. While these bills represent a small step forward, action to protect Michigan’s children from toxics has just begun. Michigan’s parents and children deserve stronger, sustained action from Governor Granholm and Michigan’s legislature.”
The state action is necessary because of the virtual lack of any federal regulation to protect children from toxics. According to a recent article in the New York Times, the Consumer Product Safety Commission only has one full-time person to test all toys that are imported into the U.S.
“The federal government is not stepping up to protect Michigan’s children, as the alarming rash of recent recalls demonstrates,” said Laura Russello of Clean Water Action. “The signing of these bills is a small step towards protecting children. We look forward to working with the Legislature to further protect children from lead and other harmful toxics.”