Advocates push last-minute action on toy safety proposal

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Capital News Service
LANSING— It’s stalled in the Senate, but backers of legislation to promote toy safety say they are not discouraged.
Critics such as the Michigan Manufacturers Association say the bills are too broad but they support their intent.
The legislation would keep consumers informed and require importers and large manufacturers who use “chemicals of highest concern” to disclose such information to the Department of Community Health, advocates say. The bills passed the House but haven’t moved out of a Senate committee.
“If children’s toys contain toxins, the level and which kinds of toxins are in those toys given to children– parents should be informed,” said Lottie Spady, associate director of the East Michigan Environmental Action Council. “It’s a citizens educational standpoint.” Her Detroit-based group supports the legislation.
Some of the chemicals that have been found in children’s toys include arsenic, lead and mercury, according to the Michigan Network for Children’s Environmental Health.
Sarah Mullkoff, Michigan campaign coordinator for Clean Water Action said, “There’s still some opportunity to work with the Senate during the lame duck period.  With the right messenger, parents or health professionals, to speak is important for this year and this term.”
The proposal would require manufacturers to provide information to parents about the chemicals in children’s products.
But Randy Gross, director of environmental and regulatory policy at the Manufacturers Association, said the bills are too broadly worded.
Gross argues the bills apply not only to children’s products, but also to those that a child could possibly come into contact with, like a car or a chair that is not considered a product for children.
“It would just continue to handicap Michigan’s industry compared to other states– Ohio doesn’t have to do this, Indiana doesn’t, or Illinois. The focus needs to be finding a way to do this in a manageable way, so that you are not incorporating every product in the state of Michigan. It’s doing it in a way that’s reasonable so you’re actually accomplishing your goal, protecting children and their health,” said Gross.
Paul Haan, executive director of the Healthy Homes Coalition of West Michigan, supports the legislation.
Manufacturers, especially overseas, need to know what’s going in their products and inform consumers and parents, said Haan. His organization is based in Grand Rapids.
The legislation is in the Senate Health Policy Committee.
Mullkoff said it’s essential to get Senate action this year because “we may not get this chance next year.”
© 2010, Capital News Service, Michigan State University School of Journalism. Not to be reproduced without permission.

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