Senator Alesi Child Protection Legislation Signed Into Law

James S. Alesi

September 05, 2008

    Senator Jim Alesi (R- Perinton) today announced that the Governor has signed into law his bill (S.170-A) which would prohibit the sale, importation, manufacturing, or distribution of potentially lethal yo-yo waterballs in New York State.

    Yo-yo waterballs consist of a liquid-filled ball on an elastic cord with a small finger loop at the end that allows children to throw the ball, stretch the cord and bounce it back like a yo-yo. Since its emergence in 2003, consumer safety agencies around the world have received numerous complaints from parents reporting various injuries involving the toy, including strangulation, laceration and eye injuries.

    The New York State Consumer Protection Board has issued numerous warnings calling yo-yo waterballs a serious hazard to children.  One particular warning was issued after a five-year-old girl from the Rochester suburb of Pittsford was nearly strangled by the toy's long elastic cord. Similar to other choking incidents involving yo-yo waterballs, the elastic cord became wrapped around the child's neck after she had been twirling it above her head.  The cord was wrapped so tightly that her father, a local pediatrician from Rochester, had to use a pair of scissors to cut the cord before she was strangled.

     “When the line between entertainment and safety is crossed, it is my job as a legislator to step in and safeguard our children from dangerous toys,” said Senator Alesi.  “Several reports have shown the danger associated with yo-yo waterballs and with the signing of this legislation into law we can be assured that we will prevent any future accidents .”

    According to injury reports collected by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), since December of 2002, yo-yo waterballs were responsible for 400 reported health incidents, 290 of which were classified as causing suffocation or strangulation. Furthermore, a safety investigation conducted by the U.S. CPSC found that yo-yo waterballs pose a potential risk of strangulation.

    Yo-yo waterballs are currently banned in France, the United Kingdom, Luxembourg, Australia, Brazil, and Canada.  In the United States, the toys have been banned in Illinois, Massachusetts and New Jersey.  Consumer Reports rated  yo-yo waterballs as "not acceptable", stating that the toy poses significant safety concerns. Lastly, in their annual survey of toy safety entitled, "Trouble in Toyland" (November 2005), the National Association of State Public Interest Research Groups recommended yo-yo waterballs be banned in the United States.

     A leader in the fight to protect children from harmful products, Senator Alesi has lead the effort in Albany to push legislation aimed at children’s health.  He is the sponsor of several bills that tackle the issue of removing lead from toys, novelty products, costume jewelry, candy, drinking water, and lunch boxes.  Senator Alesi also has authored legislation that restricts the use of other dangerous chemicals, such as bisphenol-A and phthalates, in children’s products, as well as bills that require schools to use “green” cleaning products and environmentally safe playgrounds.

    The legislation will go into effect 90 days from today.