Today’s news:

Meng warns parents about baby product defect

State Assemblywoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing) is working once again to ensure the safety of New York’s youngest residents.

The objects of her concern this time are chemicals included in certain foam children’s play-mats which has recently come under international scrutiny.

The governments of France and Belgium banned giant mats made of ethylene vinyl acetate due to the presence of formamides, which are used to soften the foam.

Meng, who has two young sons, wrote a letter Dec. 21 to U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commissioner Inez Moore requesting that the agency require manufacturers to report on the levels of formamides in the mats they manufacture.

She also wants an examination of how the commission sets safety standards and procedures for the mats.

“She wants to know, for every mom’s piece of mind, how much of it is used, and to make sure these play-mats have met safety standards and how the safety procedures and standards are set,” said Meng spokeswoman Linda Sun.

A Belgium Health Department report on formamides has shown that their presence is toxic to the reproductive system, that it can pose harm to fetuses and infants, and that exposure to them can cause eye, nose, skin and throat irritation, according to Meng.

Despite the lack of a consensus on how toxic formamides are, Meng said in her letter it is important to look at their effects for the sake of children’s health, pointing to lessons learned when health concerns arose about another chemical.

“Years ago, when the danger of Bisphenol-A [was] first made known, consumers were doubtful of its seriousness and its potential toxicity and now, BPA is banned in baby products sold in various states, including New York,” she said in the letter.

Meng has advocated on behalf of several issues related to children’s safety since her election to the state Assembly in 2008, introducing bills that were later passed requiring insurance coverage for babies who need special baby formula and making information about dangerous product recalls more easily accessible for families.

Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4538.

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