MN Lawmakers Fail Kids, Bow to Pressure From Big Business

Deanna White, Co-Director, Healthy Legacy Coalition

Last night, instead of protecting children’s health from toxic chemicals, some Minnesota Legislators bowed to pressure from the chemical industry and big business rather than Minnesota’s parents and allowed the Toxic Free Kids' Act die in conference committee.  If the Act had passed, children’s product manufacturers would have been required to publicly report if their toys, car seats or other products contain chemicals identified by the Minnesota Department of Health as toxic, Priority chemicals.  Unfortunately this important information will not be available to parents and aunts like me who want to protect the children in their family.

As the aunt of two little boys, I have found it difficult to find non-toxic products for my nephews because companies are allowed to hide harmful chemicals in their products.  This lack of information makes it almost impossible to avoid products containing chemicals that are known to harm children’s health.

A Minnesota mom learned this lesson the hard way when her daughter developed a severe rash from formaldehyde treated clothing she had recently purchased. While she was understandably upset about her daughter’s rash, she was equally upset her daughter had been unknowingly exposed to a cancer causing chemical.The Toxic Free Kids Act would have ensured toxic chemicals like formaldehyde and phthalates are no longer hidden in children’s clothing, school supplies and other products.

Protecting my nephews from harmful chemicals will remain difficult thanks to the defeat of the Toxic Free Kids’ Act. Below is the list of Priority Chemicals that will continue to be hidden in children’s products:

Bisphenol A (BPA) is a hormone-disrupting chemical found in polycarbonate plastic used in food packaging.

Cadmium and lead are toxic heavy metals still used in inexpensive jewelry and exposure is linked to adverse effects on learning and brain development.

 Formaldehyde is commonly found in children’s shampoo and textiles and exposure is linked to cancer and respiratory problems.

Phthalates (BBP, DBP, DEHP) used as softeners in PVC plastic and fragrance-binders in personal care products are hormone-disrupters and exposure is linked to reproductive and respiratory problems.

Brominated flame retardants (deca-BDE and HBCD) used in textiles, electronic enclosures and foam products are linked to adverse effects on learning and development