Time for an update on imperfect plans for toxic chemical reform:
Who knew a harmful substance finally removed from children’s pajamas in the 70s would end up in our furniture decades later? That child safety devices could be protecting them from one harm while causing another? Or that manufacturers could have nearly carte blanche to create products containing toxic chemicals that contain the potency of a hormone-altering drug? How could one in three women and one in two men be diagnosed with cancer these days, yet public policy not be stringent about removing cancer-linked substances from commerce?
One reason is that the US has very little in the way of consumer protections regarding what goes into our products. An antiquated Toxic Substances Control Act leaves tens of thousands of substances untested for safety, and lets them rotate their way in and out of our consumer products without adequate health/safety testing or even warning labels. How absurd that long after science has shown us something like asbestos is deadly, it’s turned up again in children’s crayons!
Once again in Washington, TSCA reform is teetering between efforts at real reform based on human health concerns and a charade whereby the chemical industry offers false hope of cooperating. The watchdog group Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families is closely monitoring legislation that could end up as TSCA reform, yet it does not offer a wholesale blessing of any of the proposed measures at this time. SCHF has determined that the TSCA Modernization Act that passed the US House of Representatives this summer offers clearer potential for real progress. The Senate version of TSCA reform is more bogged down in details that could roll back protective measures instead of moving the country forward. As always, there can be a lot of revising and compromising before anything new becomes law. You can find a detailed analysis of the legislation here.
Meanwhile, leading retailers are listening to what you and thousands of other concerned customers want: a safer product. Mind the Store efforts have grabbed the attention of business giants who don’t want to lose any more market share by selling unsafe products. The new paradigm is that giant retailers are competing to see who can best assure the public of product safety. Thanks to watchdogs like SCHF, you can get the facts and not be fooled by any more greenwashing. You’re learning to read labels. You’re asking what’s in the vinyl flooring. You practice #CleanCouponing, which means you want to be frugal with more than money. You care not just about the quality of the food, but the safety of the food packaging. You have the power, every time you shop, to vote for a murky future or a healthier one.