Fed Up With Toxic Chemicals? Tell Congress to Support Safety Testing in Consumer Products
By Jamie McConnell
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock
Two important pieces of legislation to protect women’s health have been introduced in Congress: The Safe Chemicals Act and the Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act. Both bills will reduce women’s exposure to toxic chemicals by requiring chemicals to be tested for safety before they are allowed in consumer products like cosmetics and furniture. Passage of these bills cannot come soon enough.
As a woman, I have enough to worry about without fretting that the products I’m buying and using in my home may harm my health. But I do worry, and that’s because I know our current laws are not protecting us from exposure to toxic chemicals. Cosmetic ingredients do not have to be tested for safety; as a result we end up with lead in lipstick, mercury in mascara and formaldehyde in hair straighteners (and that’s only naming a few of the most egregious examples). Similarly, very little safety testing is done of chemicals used in consumer goods–so we end up with BPA in canned food linings and chlorinated tris in mattresses and furniture, to name a few (I could fill up 100 blogs with examples of nasty chemicals in consumer products, but I’ll spare you).
It is so frustrating to me that the burden of finding safer products is put on consumers, when it should be the manufacturer’s responsibility to prove their products are safe. I should be able to go into a store, pick a product off the shelf, and trust that it won’t contain a chemical linked to cancer or birth defects.
What’s more, often times it’s hard to know if toxic chemicals are even in the product in the first place, since many products don’t carry an ingredient label. Recently, my husband and I bought a chair for our living room. When I found out it had polyurethane foam I called the store we bought it from and asked if the foam was treated with flame retardants like chlorinated tris. They had no idea. We returned the chair.
To top it off, safe, non-toxic products often cost considerably more. I know there are sofas and chairs available that are not treated with chlorinated tris, but I can’t afford to shell out the big bucks it often costs to buy a safer alternative. This is not just a health issue, it’s an economic justice issue. Just because folks like me can’t afford a $1,000 chair doesn’t mean that we should have to be exposed to a dose of toxic chemicals. It’s just not right. And by the way, my husband and I are still chair-less.
The Safe Chemicals Act and the Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act will help to ensure all products have less toxic chemicals in them. So, if this law passes and I go into a store to buy a chair, I can be rest assured that the chair probably doesn’t have chlorinated tris in it. Or, if I buy a bottle of shampoo or lotion, I’ll have some assurance that they don’t contain ingredients linked to cancer or reproductive harm.
These bills will place the burden on manufacturers to prove the safety of the chemicals they use in their products, and as far as I’m concerned that’s more than fair. If they are the ones profiting from the sales of these goods, they should bear the burden (and yes, cost) of ensuring their products are safe.
I probably don’t need to tell you that laws like this will only pass if you raise your voice and tell your congressional reps to support legislation to reduce the use of toxic chemicals in products. It’s super easy and I promise it doesn’t take long. After all, we have a zillion other things we need to worry about! With your help toxic chemicals in products could be one less thing on the worry list.
Visit EcoWatch’s BIODIVERSITY page for more related news on this topic.
Many people shop online for everything from clothes to appliances. If they do not like the product, they simply return it. But there's an environmental cost to returns.
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Dolf Gielen and Morgan Bazilian
John Kerry helped bring the world into the Paris climate agreement and expanded America's reputation as a climate leader. That reputation is now in tatters, and President-elect Joe Biden is asking Kerry to rebuild it again – this time as U.S. climate envoy.
Energy Is at the Center of the Climate Challenge<p>The <a href="https://science2017.globalchange.gov/chapter/1/" target="_blank">effects of climate change</a> are already evident across the globe, from <a href="https://theconversation.com/100-degrees-in-siberia-5-ways-the-extreme-arctic-heat-wave-follows-a-disturbing-pattern-141442" target="_blank">extreme heat waves</a> to <a href="https://science2017.globalchange.gov/chapter/12/" target="_blank">sea level rise</a>. But while the challenge is daunting, there is hope. Solar and wind power have become the <a href="https://www.irena.org/publications/2020/Jun/Renewable-Power-Costs-in-2019" target="_blank">cheapest forms of power generation globally</a>, and technology progress and innovation continue apace to support a transition to clean energy.</p><p>In the U.S. under a Biden administration, long-term national climate legislation will depend on who controls the Senate, and that won't be clear until after two run-off elections in Georgia in January.</p><p>But there is no shortage of <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/features/2020-biden-climate-change-advice/" target="_blank">ideas for ways Biden</a> could still take action even if his proposals are blocked in Congress. For example, he could use executive orders and direct government agencies to tighten regulations on greenhouse gas emissions; increase research and development in clean energy technologies; and empower states to exceed national standards, <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-autos-emissions-california/defying-trump-california-locks-in-vehicle-emission-deals-with-major-automakers-idUSKCN25D2CH" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">as California did in the past with auto emission standards</a>. A focus on a just and equitable transition for communities and people affected by the decline of fossil fuels will also be key to creating a sustainable transition.</p><p>The U.S. position as the world's largest oil and gas producer and consumer creates political challenges for any administration. U.S. forays into European energy security are often treated with suspicion. Recently, France blocked <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/frances-engie-backs-out-of-u-s-lng-deal-11604435609" target="_blank">a multi-billion dollar contract</a> to buy U.S. liquefied natural gas because of concerns about limited emissions regulations in Texas.</p><p>Strengthening cooperation and partnerships with like-minded countries will be critical to bring about a transition to cleaner energy as well as sustainability in agriculture, forestry, water and other sectors of the global economy.</p>
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By Maria Caffrey
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We Need More Than Listening<p>By now we have all become sadly accustomed to the current administration sidelining scientists, most prominently Dr. Anthony Fauci, because the facts they provide do not fit with the political rhetoric of the moment.</p><p>I have <a href="https://www.csldf.org/2019/08/22/csldf-helps-climate-scientist-maria-caffrey-fight-for-scientific-integrity/" target="_blank">my own history</a> of filing a scientific integrity complaint with the National Park Service (which falls under the Department of the Interior) after senior ranking employees attempted to censor one of my scientific reports. I know all too well the damage and pain that these actions cause, not just for the individual scientist, but also because these <a href="https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/attacks-on-science" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">attacks on science</a> over the last few years have undermined sound, evidence-based decision making.</p><p>President-elect Biden has repeatedly said that he will <a href="https://thehill.com/homenews/521638-trump-biden-will-listen-to-the-scientists-if-elected" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">listen to the scientists</a>. While this is certainly a welcome change, listening can only take us so far. This past week Lauren Kurtz from the <a href="https://www.csldf.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Climate Science Legal Defense Fund</a> and my colleague <a href="https://www.ucsusa.org/about/people/gretchen-goldman" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Gretchen Goldman</a> published <a href="https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/ten-steps-that-can-restore-scientific-integrity-in-government/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">an article</a> listing 10 actions the new administration should implement to show their commitment to strengthening government science:</p><ol><li>Clearly prohibit political interference and censorship.</li><li>Protect scientists' communication rights.</li><li>Acknowledge that attempts to violate scientific integrity, even if ultimately not fruitful, are still violations.</li><li>Protect federal scientists' right to provide information to Congress and other lawmakers.</li><li>Commit to incorporating the best science as part of agency decisions.</li><li>Elevate agency scientific integrity policies to have the full force of law.</li><li>Publicly release anonymized information about scientific integrity complaints and their resolutions at every agency.</li><li>Institute an intra-agency workforce, potentially under the White House <a href="https://www.ucsusa.org/sites/default/files/2020-09/strengthening-science-and-si-at-ostp.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Office of Science and Technology Policy</a>, to coordinate scientific integrity efforts across agencies, foster discussion of policy improvements, and standardize criteria for policies across agencies.</li><li>Strengthen whistleblower protections.</li><li>Ensure that policies cover all actors who will be dealing with science.</li></ol>
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By Andrea Germanos
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<div id="da98c" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="478a197b7c59c92787c92bec92f1ac39"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1331662923710693376" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Bristol Bay forever, Pebble mine never. #NoPebbleMine #SaveBristolBay https://t.co/CBQ9zuy8A5</div> — Save Bristol Bay (@Save Bristol Bay)<a href="https://twitter.com/SaveBristolBay/statuses/1331662923710693376">1606328156.0</a></blockquote></div>
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By Gwen Ranniger
In the midst of a pandemic, sales of cleaning products have skyrocketed, and many feel a need to clean more often. Knowing what to look for when purchasing cleaning supplies can help prevent unwanted and dangerous toxics from entering your home.