While Washington DC is stuck in chemical industry politics, the states are taking matters into their own hands -- passing state laws which will help to protect its residents from harmful chemicals that are infiltrating every part of our lives. In the absence of strong legislation on the federal level, the states are filling in the gaps in federal chemicals regulation.
In the last eight years, both the number of state chemical laws and the number of states passing toxic chemical reforms have tripled. State laws have been passed by overwhelming margins. When all votes are tallied, state legislators favored tighter regulation by a margin of support greater than 8 to 1. Of the votes cast, 99% of Democrats and 73% of Republicans voted in favor of regulatory laws.
Laws targeting specific chemicals and products received the greatest attention and support. Sixty-six laws banned bisphenol A (BPA) in baby and toddler products (with 98% support), phased out toxic flame retardants (PBDEs) in home products (93%), reduced children’s exposure from common products containing lead (88%) and cadmium (86%), and promoted green cleaning (88%). New York is among the states taking the lead on these single chemicals, chemical classes and product sectors.
State legislators strongly supported recent comprehensive state laws that create new programs for broad regulation of toxic chemicals. This includes chemical infrastructure laws passed in California, Maine, Minnesota and Washington State. The New York State Legislature has introduced just such a comprehensive, common-sense approach to toxic chemicals (and their safer alternatives) in children’s products. The Child Safe Products Act (S. 1526/A. 3141), introduced by Senator Bill Perkins (D, Harlem) and Assemblyman Robert Sweeney, (D, Babylon) would create an infrastructure to protect children by:
- Creating a list of Chemicals of High Concern based on authoritative government lists of chemicals that cause cancer, birth defects, reproductive dysfunction, learning disabilities, and similar common illnesses.
- Prioritizing 12 chemicals for immediate action, while authorizing the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to add additional chemicals in the future.
- Requiring companies that use priority chemicals in children’s products to report such usage.
- Empowering the DEC to work through the Interstate Chemicals Clearinghouse to collect and manage this information.
- Phasing out use of priority chemicals in children's novelty products and apparel, as it is clear that children can be entertained and clothed without using toxic chemicals.