Announcements - EH: Minnesota Department of Health

Toxic Free Kids Act

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New educational material: Understanding Formaldehyde in Children's and Consumer Products

June 4, 2018

Minnesota law limits formaldehyde in products used in children’s personal care products or certain ingestible products. Take caution when purchasing children’s creams, lotions, and similar products. Some products may contain formaldehyde. High levels of formaldehyde may present a hazard to children.

An educational handout about Understanding Formaldehyde in Children's and Consumer Products (PDF) is available for use.

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Formaldehyde is often included in creams, lotions, pastes and similar products as a preservative to inhibit growth of bacteria and extend product shelf life.

Formaldehyde is an eye and skin irritant and can make lungs and skin more sensitive to other irritants. At high levels formaldehyde can also cause cancer.

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  • Avoid products with formaldehyde on the label or ingredient list.
  • Look for other ingredients that indicate formaldehyde may become present in the product:
    • Paraformaldehyde
    • Diazolidinyl urea (Germall II)
    • Dimethyloldimethyl hydantoin (Glydant, DMDM hydantoin or DMDMH)
    • Quaternium-15
    • Imidazolidinyl urea (Germall 115)
    • Methenamine
    • 2-Bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol (Bronopol)
    • Poly(p-toluenesulfonamide-co-formaldehyde)
    • Tris(hydroxymethyl) nitromethane (Tris Nitro)
    • Hydroxymethylglycinate (Suttocide A), or sodium hydroxymethylglycinate
  • If you find a children’s product in a store and it lists formaldehyde as an ingredient, please report it to the Chemicals in Products Interagency Team (CPIT) via email, at

Other preservatives used in products are parabens. Consumers may wish to avoid products containing parabens because exposure to some parabens has been associated with hormone changes. This connection suggests parabens may not meet the definition of safer replacements for formaldehyde as required by Minnesota law (Minn. Stat. 325F.178).

The Chemicals in Products Interagency Team (CPIT) cannot review and approve specific products, but here are independent reviewers you can try:

State of Minnesota takes action to stop sale of toxic kids' jewelry
Testing found three children’s products with dangerous levels of cadmium

November 22, 2017

Three children's jewelry products containing toxic levels of cadmium were recalled this month as the result of a joint investigation by three state agencies to enforce Minnesota's Safe Toys Act. As the holiday shopping season begins, the agencies are also offering tips to Minnesota families about how to protect their children against toxic jewelry and toys.

Minnesota has enacted several laws that restrict and regulate toxic chemicals in children’s products. The Minnesota Department of Commerce, Minnesota Department of Health and Minnesota Pollution Control Agency established the Chemicals in Products Interagency Team to enforce these laws and encourage industry compliance.

Earlier this year, the Interagency Team launched a pilot investigation to identify children’s jewelry sold in Minnesota that may pose a health hazard due to toxic chemicals.

The Pollution Control Agency bought 89 children’s jewelry products, both in store and online. Laboratory testing identified three products with extremely high levels of cadmium, a toxic metal. The Department of Health determined that these levels represented a hazard to children, and the Commerce Department then conducted an investigation under the Safe Toys Act.

The three children’s jewelry products were purchased from independent retailers on The Commerce Department notified the retailers that these products posed a toxic hazard to children and violated Minnesota law. The companies voluntarily issued recalls and provided refunds to Minnesota consumers. Amazon removed the online product listings and cooperated with the investigation.

The continuing investigation is focused on identifying the manufacturers and other retailers that may be selling the products.

Some companies now use cadmium as a low-cost substitute for lead, which is highly restricted in children’s products. But cadmium exposure is associated with delayed brain development, kidney and bone damage, and cancer. Babies and young children are at particular risk because they often bite, chew or suck on toys and other objects.

The three state agencies have a fact sheet on the Toys and Safety Act: Enforcement Action and Consumer Tips (PDF), with photos and information about the three products. It also includes consumer tips:

  • Don’t rely on appearances. There is no way to know if a product contains high levels of cadmium, lead or other toxic metals just by looking at it.
  • Buy age-appropriate products. If you have small children, don’t purchase or allow access to jewelry unless specifically labeled for children 6 years and under. General/adult use items may not have been tested as safe for children.
  • Look for product information. U.S.-made jewelry is generally safer. Avoid buying jewelry when there is no information about where it was made. Look for toxic-free certification. In general, you can examine jewelry items, labels and tags more closely in person at a store.
  • Don’t allow your child to put jewelry in their mouth. Toxic exposure can come from biting, chewing or sucking on a piece of jewelry – or, even worse, swallowing it. If your child often puts items in their mouth, keep jewelry and other small objects well out of reach.
  • If your child swallows a piece of jewelry, seek urgent medical attention.

Additionally, Department of Health has a fact sheet about Lead and Cadmium in Children's Jewelry (PDF) that provides information about children's products, such as:

  • How dangerous is lead and cadmium?
  • How can I protect my children from lead and cadmium in children’s jewelry products?
  • How do I safely dispose of jewelry items that may contain lead or cadmium?

For more information, visit these websites:

Regulation of toxic chemicals in children's products and toys in Minnesota

September 26, 2017

In August 2017, a notice was sent out to manufacturers,U distributors, and retailers of children's products in Minnesota. It reinforced that manufacturers, distributors, and retailers of children's products in Minnesota must understand and follow Minnesota statutes that restrict toxic chemicals in consumer products. See the summaries of these laws (PDF).

Updated Monday, June 04, 2018 at 09:53AM