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Governor Gregoire Signs Bill to Give Washington Safest Toys in Nation

Contact: Ivy Sager-Rosenthal, Washington Toxics Coalition, 206-854-7623

Olympia, WA—Today, Governor Gregoire signed the Children’s Safe Products Act (E2SHB 2647) into law. The new legislation, which goes into effect July 1, 2009, makes Washington a national leader in addressing the problem of toxic toys.

“I’m so proud of Washington state taking the lead on protecting children from toxic toys,” said Mary Lou Dickerson (D-Seattle), the legislation’s prime sponsor in the House of Representatives. “We’ve created a bill that can be a model for other states and can ultimately result in returning consumer confidence in the toy industry.”

“Governor Gregoire has taken a bold step today toward cleaning up the toxic toy box,” said Ivy Sager-Rosenthal, Environmental Health Advocate at the Washington Toxics Coalition. “This legislation means Washington kids will have cleaner, safer toys, and stops toxic chemicals like lead at the door of the playroom.”

The law enacts the nation’s strongest standards for three toxic chemicals—lead, cadmium, and phthalates—for toys and other children’s products. It also requires manufacturers to report whether their products contain other chemicals that are harmful to children’s health. Washington is the first state in the nation to require this type of disclosure.

"Governor Gregoire and Washington State have put the safety and health of our children first with the signing of this law," said Judy Huntington, MN, RN, Executive Director of the Washington State Nurses Association. "The Children's Safe Products Act is a victory in reducing toxic exposure in children, and giving parents the necessary information to choose safe products for their children."

“As a grandmother, I am thrilled to know that I and others will be able to purchase safe, healthy toys in Washington, thanks to this legislation,” said Sen. Debbie Regala (D-Tacoma). “Washington is leading the way and other states will follow quickly to demand the highest standards of safety for our kids.”

The bill’s supporters, including medical associations, children’s advocates, and environmental health organizations, cheered the Governor’s action and pledged to work with the Governor to ensure the law is implemented fairly and reasonably.

Governor Gregoire vetoed two minor sections of the law, leaving its core elements intact. The veto eliminates language on the intent of the law and gives state agencies more time to implement the law’s disclosure requirements. The Governor also pledged to exempt electronic components of toys from the legislation through expedited rulemaking.

“We applaud the Governor and Washington’s legislature for taking this action to make toys safer for our kids,” said Barry Lawson, MD, with the Washington Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. “Children’s health, development and learning deserve our protection from toxic chemicals which have no place in toys. The reasonable steps this bill will enact pave the way for a healthier future for children.”

The Governor came under intense pressure from toy manufacturers to veto the bill, with Mattel and Hasbro, the nation’s largest toy companies, flying in top executives to meet with her. Misinformation from the toy industry also created concern among independent toy retailers and small manufacturers that the law imposed an undue burden. However, testing by the Washington Toxics Coalition and others indicates that at least 80% of toys currently for sale meet the law’s standards for lead and cadmium. Major retailers including Toys ‘R’ Us and Wal-Mart have already established their own standards for certain chemicals in products as well.

“We were pleased and impressed with the way Governor Gregoire approached this issue, listening to all sides and finding a solid path for protecting children while making sure Washington business can comply and provide safe toys for our kids,” added Sager-Rosenthal.

Elizabeth Davis of the League of Women Voters said, “This is a wonderful gift for the children of Washington: a healthier future, with greatly reduced exposures to these toxic chemicals. On behalf of children, we give thanks to the Governor and to the legislature.”

The Toxic-Free Legacy Coalition led the effort to pass the legislation, with steering committee members including Washington Toxics Coalition, Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility, Washington State Nurses Association, People for Puget Sound, Breast Cancer Fund, and WashPIRG. Other supporters included Washington State Medical Association, Planned Parenthood, American Academy of Pediatrics, Washington Chapter, Washington Conservation Voters, Children’s Alliance, Washington Environmental Council, League of Women Voters, School Nurses Organization of Washington, and SEIU Local 925.