State rule requires chemical-reporting for toys

State rule requires chemical-reporting for toys
SEATTLE (AP) - Washington state is requiring manufacturers of toys, cosmetics, jewelry and baby products to report when their products contain certain harmful chemicals, under a new law that took effect this week.

State officials have come up with a list of 66 chemicals that would trigger reporting to the state. The list includes formaldehyde, bisphenol A and phthalates, or plasticizers commonly found in consumer products.

Department of Ecology officials say the rule is the first step in making children's products safer.

"It's a pretty carefully constructed list. All of those chemicals are not good for children," Ecology toxics coordinator Carol Kraege said. "They are found in people or in children's products."

The law applies to manufacturers of products that are likely to be placed in a child's mouth or on their skin and that are intended for sale in Washington. Retailers who sell but don't make or import children's products are exempt.

Large manufacturers, or those with gross sales of over $1 billion, must report to the state by August 2012. The rule will phase in over the next several years for smaller companies. The information will be made publicly available, though it's unclear in what format, Kraege said.

The rule will add significant costs in testing and documentation for companies, Toy Industry Association spokesman Andy Hackman said.

Still, "it's our firm belief that our manufacturers and members will do everything they can do to comply," he said, adding his group has been working with its members to educate them about the complex rules.

Hackman said the industry and the state had some disagreements over the rule, including over whether some chemicals should have been included in the list. Some chemicals such as phthalates are already regulated by the federal government, he said. "But in general, it's been an open process," he said.

In 2008, Gov. Chris Gregoire signed the Children's Safe Product Act, which had two parts. State officials did not enforce regulations that limited lead, cadmium and phthalates after deciding that a federal law passed later in 2008 pre-empted that part of the act. The second part of Washington's law required manufacturers to disclose chemicals of concern to children. It was not affected by the federal statute, and took effect Sunday.

The state is asking manufacturers to report on components of products, such as yellow plastic or pink leather used in a particular toy "so we can get into the supply chain and have a broader impact," Kraege said.

Earlier this year, the Ecology Department backed legislative proposals that would have required manufacturers to come up with safe alternative for certain chemicals. The measures failed to gain traction. Business, toy and other industry groups opposed it, saying the current chemical-reporting program hasn't been fully implemented.