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 in 2013


State Legislatures To Take On Toxic Chemicals
 in 2013

Flame Retardant Bans, Chemical Disclosure Laws Top Issues

Oregon is one of 26 states taking on toxic chemicals in consumer products in 2013.

Jan 24, 2013

Portland, OR—Taking on toxic chemicals will be a priority for state legislatures across the country this year. At least 26 states will consider policies to address concerns over toxic chemicals in consumer products, according to an analysis by Safer States, a national coalition of state-based environmental health organizations. The bills will cover a broad range of topics from bans on toxic flame retardants and bisphenol A (BPA) in consumer products to requirements that states identify chemicals of concern for health and manufacturers disclose their use of chemicals in products.

“With more studies showing increased exposure to toxic or untested chemicals in our homes, citizens are demanding action at the state level,” said Sarah Doll, national director of Safer States. “Stronger state laws not only benefit public health, but the marketplace, too, by restoring consumer’s confidence that products in stores are safe. We urge state legislators across the country to continue leading on these critical public health protections.”

According to Safer State’s analysis, in 2013 states will consider the following policies:

Bans on Toxic Flame Retardants: At least 15 state legislatures will consider policies to phase out the use of toxic flame retardants, including chlorinated Tris in consumer products such as children’s products and home furniture. Chlorinated Tris is a carcinogen found in products made of foam. The chemical has become infamous because of the chemical industry’s intense misinformation campaign uncovered last year by the Chicago Tribune. States that will consider restrictions on flame retardants include Alaska, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, New York, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Identification and Disclosure of Chemicals Harmful to Children: At least 14 states, including Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington, will consider bills to identify chemicals of concern for children’s health and require makers of consumer products to disclose their use of the chemicals. Many of these bills include provisions to encourage manufacturers to identify and use safer alternatives in their products. 

Bans on Bisphenol A: At least 15 states will consider policy to restrict or label the use of the hormone-­‐disrupting chemical Bisphenol A (BPA) in infant formula cans, food packaging — especially for babies — and receipt paper, including Arkansas, Connecticut, Hawaii, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maine, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah are all states that will consider such legislation.

Bans on cadmium in children’s jewelry. At least three states will consider bans on cadmium in children’s products and jewelry. 

Bans on formaldehyde: Two states will consider banning formaldehyde in cosmetics and children’s products. Formaldehyde is a known human carcinogen and is found in common products such as cosmetics, wrinkle-­‐free clothing, and furniture. 

Green cleaning in schools: At least four states will consider policies to promote green cleaning in schools, a policy that has already passed in Vermont.

“States realize that we can’t sit idly by and wait on Congress to protect our children from toxic chemicals,” said National Caucus of Environmental Legislators Board Chairman and Maryland Delegate James Hubbard. “That’s why legislators across the country continue to introduce commonsense legislation to safeguard against dangerous chemicals in children’s toys, jewelry and even furniture. The threats to public health from inaction are too great to ignore.”

Since 2003, state legislatures have become leaders in protecting public health from toxic chemicals. Between 2003 and 2011, 19 states adopted 93 chemical safety policies. The majority of legislation passed with healthy bipartisan support -­‐ 99% of Democratic legislators and 75% of Republican legislators voted in favor of bills, and both Republican and Democratic governors signed them into law.

“In the absence of federal action on this issue, it’s up to states like Oregon to pass policies that protect us against toxic chemicals. Promoting healthier kids and families is a priority that all of us should share,” said Oregon State Senator Brian Boquist (R-Dallas). 

State legislators and health advocates point to the failed federal law, the Toxics Substances Control Act (TSCA), as the reason states have needed to adopt chemical protection policies. TSCA has largely failed to protect public health from chemicals, not even requiring basic health and safety data on chemicals before they are used in products. In Congress, Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-­‐NJ) introduced the Safe Chemicals Act in 2011, but the bill failed to pass. The bill is expected to be re-­‐introduced in 2013. The bill is supported by the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families coalition, which is made up of over 300 groups, including American Nurses Association, the American Sustainable Business Council, and the Breast Cancer Fund. However, opposition from the American Chemistry Council in particular has so far succeeded in preventing passage.

“Unfortunately, the American Chemistry Council has engaged in a campaign of intimidation and doublespeak at the national level that would make the tobacco industry blush,” said Andy Igrejas of Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families. “They have launched an all out effort to block Republicans from working toward a bi-partisan deal on TSCA reform, while using their favored legislators to attack not only EPA, but even private sector initiatives like the US Green Building Council. As long as tobacco style attack politics hold sway in Washington, state legislatures are the only folks with the power to step up and protect public health.” 


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