US – Albany County, New York Adopts Ban on Seven Elements in All Children’s Products
Vol. 811 | January 26, 2015
On January 7, 2015, Albany County in New York State adopted “Local Law J,” which, beginning in early 2016, bans the sale in that county of any children’s products (intended for children age 12 and younger) containing any of the following substances: benzene, lead, mercury, antimony, arsenic, cadmium, or cobalt. Excluded from the ban are batteries, consumer electronics, paper products, and food, drugs and cosmetics regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (Albany County, NY, encompasses the City of Albany and surrounding area and contains about 300,000 residents.)
The new ordinance does not appear to allow for low or trace levels of these chemicals, or for products that contain inaccessible chemicals. The ordinance is to be enforced by the Albany County Department of Health, and “knowing” violations would carry a $500 penalty “per violation” for a first-time offense and $1,000 for subsequent violations.
Many questions surround adoption of this new law, perhaps the most ambitious local chemical product safety law yet adopted in the U.S. These include whether the ordinance is preempted by federal or possibly even state law, including the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission bans on lead in children’s products and other heavy metals in toys; whether and how the ordinance will be enforced; whether fines would be per individual product or for a series of related products; in addition to others.
This action by Albany County may also signal a renewed push for more local and state laws regulating or attempting to regulate the chemical content of children’s and other consumer products, making the growing matrix of such laws and requirements ever more complex.
If you would like to understand what chemical limits and other product safety laws may apply to your products, please contact Pratik Ichhaporia (firstname.lastname@example.org, 312-906-7720).