30 States Take Action: Get Toxic Chemicals Out!

Written by Tela Kayne

This is a great day for the health of families across the country – in 30 of the 50 states anyway.  It’s the day that legislators and advocates in these participating states announce legislation aimed at protecting children and families from harmful chemicals! This is definitely a step in the right direction when it comes to protecting our babies from toxins that lurk in everyday products.  In fact, the current law regulating toxic chemicals was passed in 1976. And it hasn’t changed since, even though 20,000 new chemicals have come onto the market since then.  Why should we care about regulating these chemicals having gone so long under the current law? Dr. Ted Schettler, MD, MPH, Science Director of the Science and Environmental Health Network states:

“A substantial body of scientific research shows that the public is exposed to chemicals that increase the risk of serious health threats, including cancer, asthma, infertility, and learning and developmental disabilities. For most chemicals, no Government agency has the authority to require safety testing before they are put into widespread use. It’s an uncontrolled experiment, and individuals and families across the country are paying the price.”

I’m hopeful that given the new legislation, we can help to control the increasing rates of chronic diseases linked to toxic chemical exposure, including cancer, asthma, and infertility.  The most rampantly used chemicals and therefore capable of causing the most harm include BPA (17 states to phase it out!), hazardous flame retardants (3 states reducing deca BDE), and Cadmium (8 states to ban). Eleven of the states are requesting that Congress bring our federal chemicals policy into the 21st century.  Now that so many states are taking action, the federal government may finally have no choice but to take a stand against the use of these harmful toxic ingredients in products to which our children are commonly exposed.

“With over half of state legislatures introducing policies that protect kids and families from toxic chemicals, Congress and chemical industry lobbyists should take notice. As long as toxic chemicals such as cadmium and BPA remain in consumer products, states will continue to pass commonsense policies to address this serious public health threat.”

– Laurie Valeriano, Policy Director at the Washington Toxics Coalition in Seattle, Washington.

There’s only thing that puts a damper on this momentous occasion for me. My home state of Georgia is not one of the states to actively ban any of the toxic chemicals.  At least Georgia does favor stronger protection of children’s health and the environment from dangerous chemicals and is one of the 11 states asking Congress to do the same (a big step, considering).  But, Georgia could do more, and if they don’t…well…California here I come! provides a map showing the states that are introducing reform.

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