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States Across the Nation Are Passing Sweeping Chemical Safety Laws, While Congress Lags Behind

New Report Documents 71 Recently-Passed Laws With Overwhelming Bipartisan Support — With More to Come in 2011

The 71 state chemical safety laws that have passed around the country in the last eight years will be documented in a new report: Healthy States: Protecting Families from Toxic Chemicals While Congress Lags Behind. These new laws have impacted products from baby bottles and toys, to water bottles and cosmetics, and put chemical manufacturers in the position of defending their industry. The report, by the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families coalition and SAFER States, will be released on the organizations’ websites on Wednesday, November 17.

This first-ever analysis of votes on state laws aimed at protecting the public from toxic chemicals found that 18 states have passed 71 chemical safety laws in the last eight years by an overwhelming bipartisan margin. This trend resulted from state legislators and governors from both parties responding to:

  1. Growing scientific evidence of harm, such as increased risk of breast and prostate cancer, infertility, and learning and developmental disabilities;
  2. Strong public outcry — A recent Mellman Group poll found that 78% of Americans are seriously concerned about the threat to children’s health from toxic chemicals; and
  3. Failure of Congress to update the failed Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 that allows dangerous and untested chemicals to be used in everyday products and materials.

The state laws profiled in this report fall into two categories: single-focus bills and major chemical reforms. The single-focus laws include chemical-specific restrictions (such as bans on bisphenol A, commonly known as BPA, or toxic flame retardants) as well as product-specific policies focused on green cleaning and safe cosmetics, for example. The major reforms include laws that create entire new state programs for regulating broad classes of chemicals. The states featured in this report include: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin.

Given recent trends, bills to restrict toxic chemicals will likely be introduced in as many as 25 states, and again at the federal level, during the 2011 legislative sessions.