State capitol building
This is a letter to the editor from Jan Rhodes Norman of Ithaca. To submit opinion letters, please review our letters policy here and submit them to Managing Editor Thomas Giery Pudney at

Since December 30th, the Child Safe Products Act has been sitting on Governor Cuomo’s desk. Time is running out for him to sign it into law.

As a mother, grandmother, local business owner and producer of goods for children, this has been an important issue for me. It was the impetus for me starting my first business 42 years ago.

As any parent knows, children’s products are not always used as intended: they are smashed up, licked, chewed on, and otherwise abused in unpredictable ways. Unfortunately, this means that children are often consuming PFAS chemicals, flame retardants, formaldehyde, lead, bisphenols, and countless lesser-known toxics. It’s common sense: products meant for children should be safe for children, even when they’re touched, chewed, or broken apart. Additionally, children are exposed to these chemicals through their clothes, accessories, and furniture. This has contributed to a steady, nationwide uptick in chronic illnesses, hormonal disruption and behavioral challenges. Failure to disclose and act upon hazards in children’s products obscures a terrible fact: toxic chemicals contribute to an avoidable environmental health crisis in America. The Child Safe Products Act begins to correct that.

In America, we choose to place a tremendous burden on the consumer to make safe choices rather than on the manufacturer to make safe products. This model, which requires that every citizen become an expert in all things, is a bad one. If consumers do not have access to the facts, how can we make the right decisions? This is not merely a matter of a dishwasher that underperforms or a computer with insufficient memory; parents, childcare workers, and caretakers are unwittingly and without fault exposing our children to a long list of harmful chemicals with long-term health implications, and the results are borne out in the statistics.

For over a decade now, a broad coalition of environmental health professionals, nurses, childcare providers, and ordinary people have been advocating for a law that would unambiguously move New York toward that goal. I have met with representatives in Albany and, this year, we finally broke through: we passed the Child Safe Products Act in both the Senate and the Assembly. Knowing Governor Cuomo to be a staunch advocate of children’s health, we were optimistic that his signature would be imminent. Several months after its passage, we still await his signature.

We urge Governor Cuomo to sign the Child Safe Products Act into law immediately. We cannot afford to wait another year. If you agree, please call the Governor’s office today at 518-474-8390 and share your voice on this critical issue.

Jan Rhodes Norman, local business owner, Ithacamade