Thursday, January 24, 2013

26 States to Consider Toxic Chemicals Legislation in 2013

As TSCA reform enters another year without any resolution, at least 26 states are considering action to enhance protection of public health and the environment from exposure to chemicals. According to the advocacy coalition, Safer States:

In 2013, we expect at least 26 states to consider legislation and policy changes that will:
  • Restrict or label the use of bisphenol A (BPA) in receipts, children's products and food packaging.
  • Require removal of certain toxic flame retardants from children's products, home furniture or building materials.
  • Change disclosure rules so that concerned consumers will have a way to identify toxic chemicals in products.
  • Encourage manufacturers to remove identified toxic chemicals in favor of safer alternatives.
  • Ban cadmium, a dangerous, persistent metal that is often found in inexpensive children's jewelry.
  • Ban formaldehyde from cosmetics and children's products.
  • Promote green cleaning products in schools.
Safer States states that "We believe families, communities, and the environment should be protected from the devastating impacts of our society’s heavy use of chemicals. We believe that new state and national chemical policies will contribute to the formation of a cleaner, greener economy." They have also been highly critical of industry, reporting on what it sees as misplaced priorities "inside the toxic chemical industry."

So state efforts continue. At the federal level, Democratic Senator Frank Lautenberg has indicated that he will reintroduce his Safer Chemicals Act. The SCA was passed out of committee last year but never came to the Senate floor for debate or vote. The committee-passed version includes substantial changes from the original bill, including many adjustments to take into consideration concerns expressed by industry. Still, industry widely denounced the bill as unworkable, a position that Richard Denison of the Environmental Defense Fund and Andy Igrejas of Safer Chemicals Healthy Families have asserted is disingenuous at best. Industry is, however, reportedly working with Republican Senator David Vitter on what is effectively an industry-sponsored bill. It is unclear when or if Vitter's bill will be introduced, but any such bill would at least provide a counter-position to that of Lautenberg and offer opportunity for substantive debate.