Suffolk inspectors would test toys for raised levels of toxic chemicals and could order them pulled from store shelves under a law to be considered by the County Legislature Tuesday.
The bill would require spot-check testing at stores for toys with lead, mercury, antimony, arsenic, cadmium, and cobalt, starting July 2016. Retailers would be informed if their products exceed levels set in the law, and would face fines of $500 to $1,000 if they continue to sell the toys.
The bill passed a legislative committee on Thursday without recommendation, after lawmakers expressed concern about possible legal challenges. The Toy Industry Association and other opponents have sued and temporarily blocked a similar law that passed in Albany County. Westchester County recently passed a similar bill, which takes effect in a year.
The environmental groups Clean & Healthy New York and New York League of Conservation Voters released a report last year that toys with the toxic chemicals were bought at discount retailers, big-box and department stores on Long Island.
"We know the parents, grandparents and anyone who wants to buy a toy for a kid will be thankful" if the bill passes, said Christopher Goeken, director of public policy and government relations for the New York League of Conservation Voters.
The bill is sponsored by Legis. Kara Hahn (D-Setauket), who said the bill would help protect kids. It has been amended from earlier versions, which did not allow any trace amounts of the chemicals.
Health Commissioner Dr. James Tomarken told the legislative committee that the department could enforce the law with one extra health inspector and an "XRF analyzer," which scans items for a reading of chemicals. The estimated cost is $98,272 a year to lease the scanner and hire the worker, according to the Legislature's Budget Review Office.
The American Chemistry Council also opposes the proposed law.
David Garriepy, director of state government affairs for the Toy Industry Association, which represents all businesses involved in creating and selling toys, said toy safety should be left to the federal government. He said the industry already faces "rigorous" safety standards.
The amount of chemicals found in the toys, he said, are "trace amounts" that are naturally occurring.
Kimberly Wise, senior director for the Chemistry Council, said the bill doesn't measure how much exposure children have to the chemicals. "Right now, the bill is being overly conservative and not necessarily providing additional protections for children," she told lawmakers.