The Business Council opposes this legislation that would establish an unwarranted regulatory burden on product manufacturers, and lead to significant uncertainty for business. More importantly, this bill will result in little if any improvements in public health, and will place some of the state’s 148,000 chemical manufacturing and related jobs in peril (40,000 direct jobs, 88,000 related jobs, and 20,000 in plastics and rubber production).
While the legislation has been amended significantly from its initial version, it contains numerous provisions that are not well crafted, and that are more stringent and more ambiguous then those included in similar programs adopted by other states. One such amendment provides the Department of State with the ability to establish its own fees, the legislation does not cap those fees at a reasonable level.
Our major concerns with the bill, and the “science” behind it, include the following:
First, when an accredited lab tested the toys identified by Clean and Healthy New York and the New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund, the lab determined the chemicals were undetected. They were reported as present in the toys because “their reports on product testing (were) done with a XRF testing device, which is not suitable for determining compliance with standards and is known to produce false positives.” 1
Second, this proposed legislation would affect a considerably broader array of products than “toys”. The legislation clearly would affect children’s clothing, footwear (an exemption for athletic footwear has been removed), cosmetics, furniture, and sporting goods including but not limited to skis, skates, bikes, and soccer balls. Additionally, this bill removes an exemption for paper products. Many of the products covered under this legislation such as skis or bikes contain specialty metals and alloys that provide unique physical qualities and are extremely unlikely to result in harmful human exposure.
Third, the legislation mandates that the Department of Health require the registration of chemicals deemed to be a “Chemical of High Concern to Children”. Under this bill, a chemical can be deemed a “Chemical of High Concern to Children” if an environmental organization determines that it could be harmful to a plant or a fungus. The legislation does not require a link to that chemical and a reported or suspected health effect on humans or an exposure risk from their use in regulated products.
Fourth, the proposed legislation will mislead consumers. The organizations that assisted with the drafting of the legislation removed a requirement that the Department of State included the following statement of fact with the product registry. “The presence of a Chemical of High Concern to Children in a children’s product does not necessarily mean that the product is harmful to human health, or the environment, or that there is any violation of existing safety standards or laws. The reporting triggers are not health based values.” This same disclosure has been included in many other States in an attempt to inform the public.
Fifth, The Business Council strongly believes that independent, well-financed national and/or international regulatory bodies dedicated to the protection of human health, including a focus on sensitive populations, should review suspected health hazards when legitimate concerns are raised.
The Business Council is concerned with any legislation that calls for state-level chemical bans and material/product restrictions. This bill will create uncertainty for New York's manufacturers who will not know from year to year which chemicals will be subject to the state’s sales prohibition. Chemical regulation is better handled on a national level, rather than having different states applying inconsistent standards for chemical and product safety. This legislation will put New York manufacturers at a competitive disadvantage with those in other states and discourage new businesses from relocating to or expanding in New York.
New York should allow Congress to continue its review and reform of the federal Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and EPA's completion of its designated chemical action plans. This would provide a sound, national statutory and regulatory system that all businesses and manufacturers, including those in New York, can follow. New York should work with the federal government and take advantage of its resources in addressing issues of importance to the state in terms of chemical regulation.
For these reasons, The Business Council strongly opposes adoption of this bill.