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Major retailers pressed to dump toxic chemicals in consumer products

Retailers have market power to protect customers say health leaders

– B-Roll and Product Images Available –

Washington, DC – A coalition of health and environmental organizations from around the nation launched a campaign today to enlist nation’s top 10 retailers in removing toxic chemicals from consumer products. Called Mind the Store the campaign asks retailers to identify whether a specific list of hazardous chemicals are in the products they sell, and if so, to develop a plan to remove them. The chemicals, called The Hazardous 100+, have been linked to cancer, asthma, hormone disruption, developmental disabilities and other health problems.

“With great market power comes great responsibility,” said Andy Igrejas, Director of the coalition Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families that is launching the effort. “The federal government isn’t ‘Minding the Store’ when it comes to chemicals so retailers have to. They can protect their customers and move the marketplace toward safer products at the same time.”

The retailers are a ‘who’s who’ of familiar names found in nearly every corner of the U.S., including Walmart, Kroger’s, Safeway, Home Depot, and Best Buy. The chemicals appear in a range of products, from cosmetics and hygiene products, to soaps, flooring and furniture. Most of the chemicals have been identified by federal, state or international authorities as having health or environmental concerns. Many are widespread in Americans’ blood and urine as detected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s bio-monitoring program.

In contrast to pesticides or pharmaceuticals there is no functioning regulatory system for the chemicals that end up in homes and workplaces through their presence in consumer products. Manufacturers are not required to submit health and safety studies when they introduce a chemical into the market. EPA even lacks the authority to place common sense limits on those chemicals that are known to be hazardous. For example, the toxic flame retardant chlorinated tris was removed from children’s pajamas in the 1970s because it was linked to cancer. Nevertheless, a peer-reviewed study in 2012 found that the chemical was widespread in crib mattresses and blankets. Efforts to reform the system, most notably the Safe Chemicals Act, have so far been blocked by chemical industry opposition.

“We’re confident that consumers can enlist their favorite retailers in confronting this problem,” said Igrejas. “The links between many common chemicals and the chronic diseases that burden so millions of families give this issue a great moral urgency that motivates people from all walks of life.”