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States drive momentum to get toxics out of consumer products

The Vermont state Senate could approve legislation as soon as today limiting exposure to a toxic flame retardant (the same one that was removed from children’s PJ’s decades ago) and is now turning up in home furnishings like sofas. Washington state and Connecticut are not far behind. So far, our friends at Safer States count at least eight states mounting serious efforts this year, with more likely to come.

Collectively, these legislative efforts put pressure on Capitol Hill and within the chemical industry to create more uniform standards for safety and disclosure.

“You may have to develop separate production lines for states,” Andy Counts, CEO of the home furnishings trade alliance told the San Francisco Chronicle last week. In other words, even industry concedes the feds need to catch up to the states or it could hurt their bottom line.

The good news for our health is that we don’t need every state, or a majority of states to tip the scales in favor of federal reform. We just need enough states to send a message to the federal government and the chemical industry that they are falling too far behind.

Enter the Safe Chemicals Act, federal legislation backed by public health groups that we expect to be introduced in the Senate in coming weeks. Its chief sponsor, Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), said recently he is on mission to enact the bill before he retires from the Senate at the end of this Congress.

The industry balked at reform in the last Congress, but the Senator’s determination, combined with pressure from the states just might get result all of us are hoping for: a strong federal system on toxic chemicals.

Toxic chemicals linked to cancer, developmental and reproductive disabilities are turning up in way too many products, in every corner of our home. It’s way past time to update our out of date federal laws on chemicals to ensure disclosure and safety.

Take Action Now! Ask your Senators to co-sponsor the Safe Chemicals Act!

Follow Tony Iallonardo on Twitter: @TonyIallonardo