An Act for Healthy Families and Businesses
Sponsor: Senator Ken Donnelly
Sponsor: Representative Jay Kaufman
Scientific evidence increasingly links manychronic diseases such as asthma, autism, birth defects, cancers, developmental disabilities, diabetes, endometriosis, Parkinson’s disease, and others, with exposure to toxic substances. These substances are found in a wide variety of products-from children’s toys to body wash, cleaning products to industrial solvents. Yet many of these toxic chemicals can be replaced with safer alternatives.
In 1989, Massachusetts became a leader in protecting our health from toxic chemicals with the passage of the Toxics Use Reduction Act (TURA) which created a highly successful program that works with businesses who use large volumes of toxic chemicals to reduce their toxic chemical use and release. From 2000 to 2012, participating companies reduced their chemical use by 23 percent, waste by 42 percent, and on-site releases by 73 percent, all while expanding their production. This program continues to be very successful at reducing industrial use of exposure to toxic chemicals, but it does not address the consumer products which most of us are exposed to every day.
What the bill does:
The Healthy Families Bill builds upon TURA’s proven pragmatic approach to helping MA industries by creating a gradual yet comprehensive program to replace toxic chemicals with safer alternatives in consumer products, wherever feasible safer alternatives exist. Manufacturers whose products are sold in Massachusetts would be required to notify the state of the presence of certain identified toxic chemicals. Every year the state will select 5 or more chemicals from this list and conduct an evaluation of the alternatives to the toxic chemical to find out if feasible safer alternatives are available. Wherever feasible safer alternatives do exist, companies will be required to replace the toxic chemical with the safer alternative. The bill provides technical and financial assistance to businesses to support this transition.
Current laws have failed to protect public health and the environment from exposure to harmful toxins. We need new laws that prevent harm from toxic chemicals instead of waiting to act after damage has been done. The bill’s provisions will protect public health which bolsters our economy by averting high health care and special education costs as well as lost productivity. Innovative industries and green chemistry are already creating the safer products and sustainable jobs that are increasingly demanded in today’s economy and to have a healthy economy, even more businesses must follow their lead.
Massachusetts does not stand alone!
Many other states have created programs to phase out toxic chemicals in consumer products. Connecticut, Maine, Vermont, Washington, and other states have all passed laws that will accomplish similar goals. The Healthy Families Bill will give Massachusetts residents the same protections available in other states and build on these successful programs.