The Toxic-Free Kids Act was passed during the 2015 legislative session. This law requires manufacturers of children's products sold in Oregon to report products that contain one or more high priority chemicals of concern for children's health, and ultimately remove these chemicals or seek a waiver. Products that fall under this law are those that are marketed to or intended for children.
The Oregon Health Authority's Toxic-Free Kids program is responsible for implementing this law. Our goal is to reduce children’s exposure to chemicals of concern and improve our understanding of how children are exposed to these chemicals.
Why focus on kids?
Of the thousands of chemicals present in our environment, some have toxic effects that are harmful to human health, in particular to children. Children are more vulnerable than adults to permanent injury from toxic chemicals because:
They are going through critical stages of growth and development;
Their bodies are smaller than adults, so by comparison their exposure level to toxins is higher; and
They do things that can put them at risk, such as babies putting things in their mouth and playing on the floor.
Harm or injury from toxic chemicals can permanently alter a child’s lifelong development and health.
However, just because a chemical exists in a certain product, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will cause harm. In order for a child’s health to be harmed by a toxic chemical, that chemical must somehow get out of the product and into their body. There is a lot we don't know about how people may be exposed to chemicals based on how they use a product, or how the product degrades over time. Information gathered from manufacturers as part of this program will improve our understanding, and help OHA answer questions about children’s exposure to these chemicals.
Requirements for manufacturers
OHA is currently writing the rules that will govern how the Toxic-Free Kids program will work. We will be communicating the details on what manufacturers must do in order to comply with this new law as we begin our work.
Other agencies that regulate chemicals in children's products
The Toxic-Free Kids program is the only Public Health Division program that regulates chemicals in consumer products. Other state and federal agencies that play a role in chemical regulation and consumer products include:
The federal Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)
The federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
The federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Each of these agencies regulate chemicals in different types of consumer products ranging from toys to food to pesticides. The scope of Oregon’s Toxic-Free Kids program is limited to children’s products, excluding products like food, food packaging and pharmaceuticals that are already regulated by other state and federal agencies.
Source: Oregon Health Authority