Select Committee on Children

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

HB-5650

Title:

AN ACT CONCERNING CHILD PRODUCT SAFETY.

Vote Date:

3/6/2008

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable Substitute Change of Reference to General Law

PH Date:

3/4/2008

File No.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Select Committee on Children Speaker Jim Amman

REASONS FOR BILL:

IN LIGHT OF THE SURGE OF TOY RECALLS IN THE LAST YEAR, IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT THE PRESENCE OF LEAD IS REMOVED FROM TOYS TO PREVENT INJURY OR EVEN DEATH TO CONNECTICUT'S CHILDREN. PARENTS NEED TO FEEL SAFE THAT THE PRODUCTS THEY ARE BUYING FOR THEIR CHILDREN DO NOT POSE A POTENTIAL HEALTH RISK. SUBSTITUTIONS TO THE BILL HAVE BEEN MADE IN REGARDS TO EXCLUDING THE DEFINITION OF A BANNED HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCE TO THOSE CHILDREN'S PRODUCTS THAT HAS A LEAD CONTENT THAT EXCEEDS THE AMOUNT SET FORTH IN SECTION 1 IF IT IS NOT PHYSICALLY EXPOSED (PAINT COATINGS AND ELECTROPLATING SHALL NOT BE CONSIDERED) BECAUSE IT HAS A COVERING OR A SEAL. EXCEPTIONS HAVE ALSO BEEN SET FORTH TO ADOPT REGULATIONS FOR ELECTRONIC DEVICES. THE COMMISSIONER OF PUBLIC HEALTH SHALL ALSO BE INVOLVED IN COMPILING THE LIST OF OTHER TOXIC SUBSTANCES.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

Richard Blumenthal, Attorney General: With an unprecedented amount of children's products being recalled last year, tougher standards are necessary to safeguard CT's children. He urges that at a minimum HB 5650 is adopted, but following California's suit of standards for phthalates: di-ethylhexyl phthalate, dibutyl phthalate or butyl benzyl phthalate in concentrations exceeding one-tenth of one percent in any product for children under 12; prohibiting diisononyl phthalates, diisodecyl phthalate or di-n-octylphthlate in concentrations exceeding one-tenth of one percent in products marketed for children under three; banning of any product containing bisphenyl-A to children under three.

Ellen Blaschinski, Branch Chief, Regulatory Services Branch, Department of Public Health: There is a need to create more stringent standards than those that exist on the federal level for lead in products. Lead exposure to children is unnecessary and with the rise in recalls the last few years consumer confidence is at an all-time low. The DPH would like the Committee to consider the .004 mg per cm² stipulated in the proposal and that the current instruments used to measure such are not sensitive enough to achieve such a limit. The DPH would also like to be consulted in developing a list of toxic substances.

Elizabeth C. Brown, Commission on Children: With the last several months' rise in toys with lead, CT needs to enact a law specifically banning or regulating lead in children's toys. While there is pending legislation in Congress, CT needs to address this health issue now. There were 81 toy recalls in 2007 recalling approximately 6,000,000 toys. “Childhood lead poisoning is one of the most common, yet preventable, pediatric health problems in Connecticut today…Any amount of lead in the body is unsafe and can cause permanent damage to a child's health” according to the CT Department of Public Health. In 2006, a child did of lead poisoning from swallowing a bracelet charm that contained 99% lead!

Jerry Farrell, Jr., Commissioner, Department of Consumer Protection: The creation of a stricter standard for Connecticut's lead in toys would be difficult and costly for the Department of Consumer Protection. The Department would need additional staff and paint testing equipment, which is not allocated in the Governor's budget adjustments. The Department opposes the bill as drafted. The bill's proposed list of “toxic substances” does not contain a state or federal testing standard. The creation and continual update of the list would be difficult for the Department. On the other hand, the Department is in full support of the Governor's Bill HB-5025.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

James Amann, Speaker of the House: There was a good bit of bipartisan work done in the 2007 session to eliminate lead poisoning in children. Since most childhood lead poisoning comes from the lead paint in homes, the legislature that the issue had been taken care of. Recently lead has been discovered in children's toys, jewelry, and other products which are primarily being manufactured in China. In 2008, there have already been 20 lead-related recalls. Children put everything in their mouths, which puts them at risk for being poisoned by oral lead consumption. States such as Illinois and California have passed legislation already to make children's products safe from lead. Illinois was even able to ban Fisher-Price toy blood pressure cuffs from the shelves because of the unsafe lead levels, but the toy is still on CT's shelves.

Sen. John A. Kissel: He recognizes that there is a problem with a lack of safety testing in factories; he believes it is important that retailers comply with the banning of hazardous products. The language of the bill: “adopt regulations, establishing safety requirements, safety standards, banned hazardous substances, labeling requirements and testing procedures for articles” is imperative to enhancing child safety. Through this bill, we can ensure that sellers in the state are not selling products that have not been tested which could potentially contain hazardous material.

Richard Blumenthal, Attorney General: With an unprecedented amount of children's products being recalled last year, tougher standards are necessary to safeguard CT's children. He urges that at a minimum HB 5650 is adopted, but following California's suit of standards for phthalates: di-ethylhexyl phthalate, dibutyl phthalate or butyl benzyl phthalate in concentrations exceeding one-tenth of one percent in any product for children under 12; prohibiting diisononyl phthalates, diisodecyl phthalate or di-n-octylphthlate in concentrations exceeding one-tenth of one percent in products marketed for children under three; banning of any product containing bisphenyl-A to children under three.

Ellen Blaschinski, Branch Chief, Regulatory Services Branch, Department of Public Health: There is a need to create more stringent standards than those that exist on the federal level for lead in products. Lead exposure to children is unnecessary and with the rise in recalls the last few years consumer confidence is at an all-time low. The DPH would like the Committee to consider the .004 mg per cm² stipulated in the proposal and that the current instruments used to measure such are not sensitive enough to achieve such a limit. The DPH would also like to be consulted in developing a list of toxic substances.

Elizabeth C. Brown, Commission on Children: With the last several months' rise in toys with lead, CT needs to enact a law specifically banning or regulating lead in children's toys. While there is pending legislation in Congress, CT needs to address this health issue now. There were 81 toy recalls in 2007 recalling approximately 6,000,000 toys. “Childhood lead poisoning is one of the most common, yet preventable, pediatric health problems in Connecticut today…Any amount of lead in the body is unsafe and can cause permanent damage to a child's health” according to the CT Department of Public Health. In 2006, a child did of lead poisoning from swallowing a bracelet charm that contained 99% lead!

Amy McLean Salls, Project Coordinator of the Lead Action for Medicaid Primary Prevention; Executive Director of the Connecticut Citizen Research Group: She worked closely with the Speaker last year to mandate universal blood screening and lowering the lead action level and to get assistance for local health departments. By identifying children with lead levels at an early age, it is that much closer to avoiding it entirely. While the federal government deliberates over international commerce, it is imperative that the state takes action to make us safer.

Martin Mador, Legislative and Political Chair, Connecticut Sierra Club: While in support of the bill, he urges that HB 5650 be expanded to ban phthalates and bisphenol-A in children's products. As well as incorporate the language from HB 5601 to create an Innovation Institute at UCONN to work with state industry on the issues of toxics and would link similar facilities in the state.

Annamaria Beaulieu, Advocacy Committee Co-Chair, CT Public Health Association: The American Association of Pediatrics recommends that children's products have a lead content of no greater than 40 ppm but there are others that pose health risks. Phthalates and Bisphenol A are linked to some cancers, asthma and learning and developmental disorders. Children are at an added risk because they have a higher-exposure per unit of body weight than adults. It was previously believed that babies were safe in the womb, but recent studies have shown that numerous toxic chemicals were found in the fetal cord blood. The CPHA is advocating for the establishment of an Innovation Institute that identifies other high priority chemicals to assist CT businesses in transitioning to safer alternatives. CPHA supports a ban of all children's products with a lead content greater than 40 ppm, to phase out phthalates and Bisphenol A, establish the Innovation Institute, and state participation in a multi-state clearinghouse.

Martha Kelly, Labor Advocate, Connecticut Council on Occupational Safety and Health (ConnectiCOSH): She is a grandmother of two as well as an advocate with ConnectiCOSH. She attended an educational program given by Dr. Vivian Cross that included reports of a study that “event blood lead concentrations lower than are actionable in CT are associated with measurable declines in educational achievement as the level rises.” Ms. Kelly has two granddaughters who she gave jewelry too for Christmas but is worried that she may have given them a contaminant. She feels that the government is not protecting her grandchildren from a neurotoxin. She is also concerned with phthalates and Bisphenol A (which has been linked to obesity and young girls reaching puberty before intended onset). With 80% of municipal waste incinerated in the state, the material is being put into the air. She wants to phase out lead in children's products, phase out phthalates and bisphenol A, empower the DEP to create a list of chemicals of concern, and provide funding for an innovation institute that will help CT businesses to transition to the many safer alternatives that exist. New York has taken action to form such an institute and Maryland has also just made strides towards similar legislation.

Ann Berman, Chairperson, Milford Environmental Concerns Coalition: The Coalition has also testified in support of HB 5601. She recently had her cup of coffee tested and it tested 9000 ppm lead, which she is concerned that a pregnant mother could drink and inadvertently pass the contaminant on to her offspring. As far as childhood lead exposure goes, “There may be several reasons for childhood obesity, like exposures to disinfectant, outdoor paints, and epoxyresins are thought to have the ability to disrupt endocrine systems, another potential early childhood culprit.” She also urges for the creation of the Innovations Institute.

Amelia Borkowski: As a mother and nurse, she is concerned that “protecting our children from neurotoxin environmental exposures from the earliest stages of fetal development through adolescence is clearly an essential public health measure.” She quote the Collaborative on Health Environment's Learning and Developmental Disabilities Initiative report which says exposure to contaminants leads to neurodevelopmental disorders including autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. She feels that parents are not well-informed and need to be better educated on buying “non-toxic” toys for their children. She believes that the toy makers are ready to listen to concerned citizens per the showing at the Annual Toy Fair.

Mary Jane Williams, MD, Connecticut Nurses' Association: While the CNA supports the bill, phthalates and Bisphenol A are also major concerns. Phasing out these chemicals is possible because safer alternatives exist and more are becoming available. The European Union is phasing out 1400 toxic chemicals to be replaced by safer alternatives. Connecticut needs to follow suit to be viable in the international market. She also urges for the creation of the Innovation Institute.

Nancy Simcox, Board Member, ConnectiCOSH: She just participated in the first non-governmental sponsored bio-monitoring project and was shocked to find out how much phthalate tested in her blood and urine. She is concerned that the government is not protecting her or her daughter with the 12 pages of recalls that were listed on the EPA's website for jewelry. She questions how she is supposed to know what is and is not okay and how this uncertainty can be good for the economy. She has tried to cut out exposure to these chemicals entirely but because they are so prevalent she has had difficulty in doing so. She would like to see safer alternatives used for lead, phthalates and Bisphenol A.

Sarah A. Uhl, Environmental Health Coordinator, Clean Water Action: She is submitting additional language to strengthen the bill. She also supports phasing out phthalates, bisphenol A, in addition to lead. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission has little authority over regulating chemicals and the US has thus become a dumping ground for products with toxic substances. The suggested new language is to repeal Subsection (e) of section 21a-335 and replace it with “(ii) marketed for the use of children under the age of twelve years, containing lead in concentrations exceeding forty parts per million, or Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), dibutylphthalate (DBP) or butyl benzyl phthalate (BBP), in concentrations exceeding one-tenth of one per cent, or (iii) capable of being put in a child's mouth, containing Diisononyl phthalate (DINP), diisodecyl phthalate (DIDP) or di-n-ocylphthalate (DnOP), in concentrations exceeding one-tenth of one per cent or containing bisphenol-A or other chemical included on the list compiled by the Department of Environmental Protection pursuant to section 2 of this act;.” She also discusses the swift in the European Union to phase out the sale of products with 1400 toxins present. With the state having nearly one-third of its trade with the European Union, the committee should strengthen the bill by adding the development of an Innovations Institute. She also urges the state to participate in the multi-state clearinghouse.

Connecticut Association of Directors of Health: Written testimony. Local health departments receive weekly notices of hazardous lead toys which is why it is necessary to prohibit the manufacturing, distribution, and sale of any children's product that has been deemed hazardous. With the required screening in this bill, the hazardous products will not be put on the shelves to get into the hands of consumers.

Phil Sherwood, Legislative Director, Connecticut Citizen Action Group; Interim Director of the Health Care for All Coalition: The CCAG strongly supports the bill to reduce lead exposure to children. No more than 40 ppm of lead should be allowed in children's products. It has been shown to shorten the anogenital distance in males if exposed in utero, reduce sperm counts, and interfere with genital developments. If children are exposed to a number of toxicants, they often interact with each other and the results are devastating. It is not merely the dose that matters, but also the timing of the exposure. Even a few days can make a difference in the effects that are experienced. Phthalates interrupt chemical messages to the brain which can increase the likelihood of prostrate or breast cancer later in life. The CCAG believes that the bill would serve as a “stepping stone” for a more widespread toxic chemical reform and would require the use of safer chemical alternatives.

Ayesha Wynter, Coalition for a Safe & Healthy Connecticut: There is no adequate system in Connecticut to regulate or restrict chemicals in toys, however, other states include California have taken steps to regulate toxins in children's toys. While no more than 40 ppm lead should be allowed in children's products, she believes that HB 5650 can be strengthened by including other toxic substances including phthalates and Bisphenol A . We will benefit the state economy by reducing health care and special education costs. She also believes that the bill should include the ability to research and to have state agencies monitor a list of hazardous substances and starting an innovation institute. Lead causes learning disabilities, attention disorders and lower IQs.

Michael Fitts, Executive Director of ConnectiCOSH: Written testimony. He believes that HB 5650 is a good starts, but only regulates a handful of toxins used in children's toys. He suggests mimicking a program that that in the European Union “No Data, No Access” that requires manufacturers to produce data that proves products are safe before they can go to the market.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

Jerry Farrell, Jr., Commissioner, Department of Consumer Protection: The creation of a stricter standard for Connecticut's lead in toys would be difficult and costly for the Department of Consumer Protection. The Department would need additional staff and paint testing equipment, which is not allocated in the Governor's budget adjustments. The Department opposes the bill as drafted. The bill's proposed list of “toxic substances” does not contain a state or federal testing standard. The creation and continual update of the list would be difficult for the Department. On the other hand, the Department is in full support of the Governor's Bill HB-5025.

Joan Lawrence, Vice President of Standards and Regulatory Affairs, Toy Industry Association: She believes the bill is inconsistent with federal legislation being considered by Congress. It proposes limits without “regard to accessibility or exposure or functional uses of lead in certain products.” She also believes it is unrealistic to require the lead be measured by a machine that costs over $30,000. While reducing lead is a priority, lead still has “functional and permissible uses.” By passing this legislation, many electronic items would be useless. She believes Connecticut consumers would have to go without or outsource these products. She feels the wording of the bill is too broad and would eliminate products that have undergone corrective action after being recalled which would lead to extreme waste. She strongly urges that CT waits to align itself with the federal standards that will be set in place.

Reported by: Kelly Juleson-Scopino

Date: 03.10.08