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New Bill to Protect Children from Untested Chemicals

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
(Sponsored by Seventh Generation)
 
Emerging science increasingly links exposure to toxic chemicals with serious health problems. From bisphenol-A in baby bottles to phthalates in children’s toys and flame retardants in nursery furnishings, the modern world is filled with synthetic compounds that research now shows likely cause neurological and behavioral disorders, reproductive and developmental disruption, cancer and other troubles.
 
There are hundreds of untested chemicals in the products families use every day. The law that directs the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to conduct safety reviews of chemicals, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), was passed by Congress in 1976. Since then, the EPA has investigated just 200 of the more than 80,000 chemical compounds available to manufacturers today. Critics of the law say it doesn’t give the EPA enough authority to demand that companies supply the information needed to evaluate a chemical’s risk. 
 

 
Now, Safer Chemicals Healthy Families, a coalition of nearly 30 leading non-governmental organizations, is working to help Congress overhaul the nation’s chemical regulations. Other supporters of the coalition include the Environmental Defense Fund, Healthy Child Healthy World and Seventh Generation, the maker of all-natural cleaning products and diapers. The group supports new legislation proposed by several Congresspeople, including Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ). The legislation would require that new chemicals be safety-tested before they are put into products that children and others use. Manufacturers would also have to prove that chemicals already in production are free of danger. This information would be publicly availably so that consumers could see exactly what they’re bringing home. 
 
For more information on how you can help the proposed legislation become law, visit www.millionbabycrawl.com.
 
post #2 of 7
I wanted to add that 1.25 million kids younger than six years of age are unintentionally poisoned in the home each year by things like cosmetics and personal care products, cleaning substances, pain relievers and cough and cold medicines (American Association of Poison Control Centers) that contain harmful chemicals.

Also I wanted to add the ways you can get involved with the crawl movement...

  • Visit Million Baby Crawl and create a crawler that represents why you want chemical reform. The Million Baby Crawl will help to present the Kids Safe Chemical Act to Washington by collecting signatures from Americans who support toxic chemical reform.
  • Post about the Million Baby Crawl at your own blog.
  • Follow the Million Baby Crawl discussion on Twitter #mbcrawl.

This is a very cool campaign, anyone with or without kids should be VERY worried about what chemicals are in their home cleaners and body care products. It's not pretty.
post #3 of 7
Another way is for the adults to take care - though that is no longer the 'American Way".

Proper storage and caution go a long way - not all the way but a long way. 

Many of us grew up quite nicely without the government sticking their nose into every little corner.

Much of the science these groups are talking about is still under discussion and far from proven. I believe this will never go anywhere as it would turn into a quagmire.

The program in question would also take a long time to phase in - by that time politics will have changed no doubt.

There should be enforced criminal penalties for parties involved with illegal actions such as adulterating products intentionally - not civil penalties and not a slap on the wrist.  
post #4 of 7
Russ, so do you think we should or shouldn't require testing for cleaning products? I guess I'm confused - I agree that we don't need the gov sticking their nose into all corners of our lives. The handmade toy issue is a good example, but there is research that chemicals can make people sick, so I'm for testing and possible bans on those.
post #5 of 7
Products should be labeled in a manner that the user can determine the correct storage, use and care as well as whether or not they want to use it.

The post is talking about the testing of some 80,000 (their number) chemicals. That is no small task. I can see it easily getting very confusing if extended to GMO food items as well. When imports can not even be tested (Chinese drywall) such a task is not remotely possible.

For a manufacturer to prove that a solution is of no danger to 300 million different people is probably impossible - today or in the future. Some people are allergic to peanuts for example - do we ban peanuts. Some are allergic to a bee or wasp sting but I am not to sure how to ban them either. Many common house or garden plants are toxic if ingested but we generally stay from eating them.

To be considered for legislation there must be some possible and practical way forward. 

 
post #6 of 7
Ah, ok I see your point. You're not wrong, it's hard to get clear cut guidelines and protocol developed. Many places (most schools for example) have banned peanuts though; although I don't agree with that since not everyone is allergic to nuts. The difference between the most dangerous chemicals and peanuts though is that the chemicals do affect everyone and air quality, water, soil, etc. which is why I'm for banning the worst of them. 

Also, considering that it's been some odd 33 years since Congress passed the Toxic Substances Control Act (TCSA). IF they had been slowly testing chemicals from then forward, they'd have way more than 200 of the 80,000 tested. To date the Environmental Protection Agency has tested just 200 of the more than 80,000 chemical compounds developed for products used in the home. That would have been practical and possible, but everyone has just sat around ignoring the TCSA.

I do agree that the extensions (or possible extensions) could make this super iffy though. I think maybe a better way to start is to start educating the public better about possible dangers of all these chemicals. In medicine commercials companies always list side effects but bleach commercials state nothing but benefits. There has to be a more balanced public message. I haven't seen TV in a while (no cable) but from what I remember, cleaning product commercials and beauty/bath products hardly ever say anything about storage, safety, etc, because they're into selling not public health. Your comment about labeling for correct storage, use and care is a good first step, but I think it should be more public than that even.
post #7 of 7
Hi Jennifer, Dietary supplements, for example, (a wide class of things people consume) are almost totally unregulated which to me is dangerous. The FDA has no standing in controlling them - they are not allowed to do anything.

Much more information needs to be available to the public as a first step. A designed program is needed to make step by step improvements - not a sledge hammer type approach.

I always remember the Indiana state legislature back in the 70's banning music because if you played certain songs backwards at varying speeds supposedly you would get something satanic out of them. Total nonsense legislated by well meaning idiots.

National attitudes toward humanity are also important. Witness the problems with products from China. The guy I worked for in India (very wealthy) would have probably warned close family members to avoid a (hypothetical) product if he knew it was unsafe. We did not do anything with food bu the way. For the rest of the world - learn it the hard way.

At present foreign products are covered by the same rules as American or European made products are but in many cases the mentalities and moralities are very different.
Edited by Russ - 10/26/09 at 1:39pm
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