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Is Your State One of the 33 Taking Action on Toxic Chemicals?

Health + Wellness

By Sarah Doll

Thank goodness for the states.

This year, at least 33 states—more than half the nation—will stand up as defenders of public health.

They are taking the toxic bull by the horns and consider policies addressing the untested and toxic chemicals in everyday products. 

Many toys, clothes, bedding and baby shampoo contain some chemicals toxic to the brain and body. We've known for years that the federal law meant to protect us (the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act) is outdated, allowing untested chemicals and known carcinogens, hormone disruptors, heavy metals and other toxics into the products we use every day.

States have established more than 200 policies in the last 10 years to protect people from hazardous chemicals in consumer products.

2014 is proving to continue this tradition of protection: at least 33 states are considering policies on toxic chemicals. Some would change disclosure rules for manufacturers, so that concerned consumers will know what chemicals are in their products. Some would phase out the use of chemicals like bisphenol Aformaldehyde and toxic flame retardants. And just a few weeks into some sessions, momentum is strong—like in Washington State, where a bill is already moving to restrict certain flame retardants.

The chemical industry has taken an aggressive approach, spending millions on lobbying campaigns to crush state initiatives.

But we’ve got their M.O- they'll downplay real dangers, gloss over opportunities to build a greener economy, throw out red herrings, and do all they can to protect the status quo. And behind the scenes, out-of-state chemical industry checks will fill politician pockets.

Don’t believe us? Below is a video from the toxic chemicals lobby:

So it's truly a patriotic moment when lawmakers reach across the aisle and pass a law to protect their people. And it happens: most of the several hundred state toxics policies passed with broad bipartisan support, and bills were signed into law by both Republican and Democratic governors.

We have the American ingenuity to identify and eliminate hazardous chemicals in consumer products. It's the responsible thing to do for our marketplace, our children and our future.

As New York State Senator Phil Boyle (R-Bay Shore) said: "It's a 21st century reality: We have the American ingenuity to identify and eliminate hazardous chemicals in consumer products. It's the responsible thing to do for our marketplace, our children and our future."

Highlights of 2014 state policy include:

We expect the following states will consider policy to identify chemicals of concern and/or require makers of consumer products to disclose their use of chemicals. 

Some of these policies will include provisions to encourage manufacturers to identify and use safer alternatives in their products:

• Alaska
• California
• Connecticut
• Delaware
• Florida
• Massachusetts
• Michigan
• Minnesota
• New York
• Oregon
• Vermont 

Bans on Formaldehyde in children's personal care products are expected to be considered:

• Alaska
• Hawaii
• Iowa
• Maryland
• New York
• Tennessee

Phase out the use of toxic flame retardants, including chlorinated Tris, in consumer products:

• Alaska
• Illinois
• Massachusetts
• Maryland
• New York
• Washington

Restrict or label the use of the endocrine disruptor bisphenol A (BPA) in infant formula cans, food packaging, and receipt paper:

• Hawaii
• Kentucky
• Massachusetts
• Nebraska
• New Jersey
• New York
• Pennsylvania
• South Dakota
• Tennessee
• West Virginia
• Wisconsin

Restriction on phthalates, lead and/or cadmium in children's products:

• Hawaii
• Massachusetts
• Maine
• Michigan
• Mississippi
• New Jersey
• New York.

Using less toxic cleaning supplies in schools:

• Arizona
• Kentucky
• Massachusetts
• North Carolina
• Tennessee

Considering restrictions on mercury:

• Hawaii
• Massachusetts
• Michigan
• New York
• Washington
• Wisconsin

Asking manufacturers to make cosmetics with less toxic chemicals:

• Massachusetts
• New York
• Vermont

And several states are still determining the best approach for their state (Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, New Mexico and South Carolina) 

Sending a Message

This wave of action, combined with consumer demand, has ripple effects far beyond state boundaries. The policies send a clear message to manufacturers and retailers alike: consumers want to shop with confidence for products that are toxic-free. Wal-Mart, Target and Johnson & Johnson—all have pledged action to remove certain toxics from their shelves and their formulas. Soon we'll see that products can be plentiful and profitable—even without the toxics.

Visit EcoWatch’s HEALTH page for more related news on this topic.

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