This past February, U.S. Representative John Shimkus (R-IL), Chairman of the Environment and Economy Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, released a problematic draft bill titled the “Chemicals in Commerce Act”, which would replace the already limited toxic regulation currently existing under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).
In late April, the subcommittee held a hearing of the revised bill, at which (not surprisingly) industry witnesses hailed it as making effective reforms, while advocates called it out for doing more damage than good in protecting public health.
As of late May, the House Energy and Commerce Committee is expected to hold a bill mark-up session very soon.
This bill thinly disguises itself as a measure to protect public health, but in reality disregards years of work by scientists, environmental and health advocates, and state legislators to push for reform against the urgent toxic chemical crisis. “In essence, this draft bill has the potential to make a bad situation even worse”, reads a statement from the San Francisco-based Breast Cancer Fund.Read more...
On April 16th, AHT supporters gathered outside ten Walgreens locations across Massachusetts to urge the major retailer to phase out toxic products from their shelves. Concerned parents, student activists, health professionals, and leaders of environmental organizations visited Walgreens stores in downtown Boston, Dorchester, Lexington, Medway, the North Shore, Revere, and Yarmouth, as part of the national Mind the Store campaign. Nearly 50 events were held across the country on April 16th to call on Walgreens, the largest drugstore chain in the states.
Check out this video that features events organized at the downtown Boston flagship store and Dorchester locations. At the Boston location, students from Suffolk University were joined by representatives from the Massachusetts Council of Churches, the Environmental League of Massachusetts, and Clean Water Action. In Dorchester, Rev. Bill Loesch led a group of B.O.L.D. (Breath of Life Dorchester) Teens, a youth group focused on environmental and social justice.
You can still join the action - add your voice to theirs by signing a petition to Walgreens.
This week, as part of the national Mind the Store campaign’s day of action, concerned parents, youth activists, and health professionals gathered at Walgreens locations to call for stronger store policies regarding toxic products sold on their shelves. As the country’s largest drugstore chain, Walgreens has the responsibility to protect the health of their customers. However, it has been unresponsive to previous campaign efforts, having undertaken no major initiatives to address toxic chemicals in their supply chain and ignoring requests for meetings from environmental health organizations. Therefore, on April 16th, customers across the nation took it in their own hands to make their voices heard.Read more...
With great market power comes great responsibility. Retailers hold the power to choose which products are available to consumers, and what ingredients go into store brand items. With a lack of federal regulation over toxic chemicals in consumer products, retailers have the potential to step in and screen their inventory, and by doing so have a large impact on improving public health and the environment. In support of pressuring retailers to take action, the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow coalition is excited to join other environmental and health organizations in joining the efforts of Mind the Store this spring.Read more...
Tuesday October 29th was a huge day for the fight against toxic chemicals. Hundreds of women, men and children from all over the country came together in Washington D.C. for the second National Stroller Brigade for Safe Chemicals. Many mothers with their young children and babies in tow traveled from as far as Alaska to raise awareness and lobby against weak toxic chemical policies in congress. The event was organized by Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families a coalition of over 11 million individuals and hundreds of diverse groups from across the nation all coming together to express their concerns about the toxic chemicals we’re exposed to in our environment. The message of the Stroller Brigade was clear; we need Congress to pass a strong, meaningful law that protects the public from the thousands of toxic chemicals we are exposed to every day.
A dynamic team of 4 women and one child (pictured on the right) traveled from Massachusetts to join the stroller brigade. Eugenia Gibbons who leads a strong mom network for Boston and lives in Revere came with her adorable 15 month old Sylvie. Lori Alper, a nationally recognized mom blogger; active Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families campaigner and mother of four came from Medford. We were also joined by Cheryl Durr Patry a mother of four who leads Medfield Green Moms and Madeleine Doggett a Northeastern University student and Clean Water Action intern currently living in Boston. These women, greatly concerned about environmental exposures to toxic chemicals especially in children and other particularly vulnerable communities took Washington by storm. They visited the offices of Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Edward Markey, Representative Michael Capuano and Representative Joe Kennedy to express their concerns about our chemical laws.Read more...
Walmart has been in the spotlight this fall in the campaign to remove toxic chemicals from consumer products. On September 17th, in response to a national Mind the Store campaign--coordinated by Safer Chemicals Healthy Families--the retail giant took a huge step in the right direction by announcing a plan to phase out ten toxic chemicals from its cleaning, personal care and cosmetic products by 2015. Just twelve days before, the Washington Toxics Coalition (WTC) released a report on jewelry sold at Walmart that was found to contain high amounts of lead.
The WTC study, Walmart Get the Lead Out, found high levels of lead in 25% of the jewelry tested. Eight out of 34 products tested contained lead ranging from 7,748 parts per million (ppm) to 357,790 ppm. For example, the horseshoe necklace pictured above tested at 35.8% lead! A toxic chemical phase out by one of the top retailers in the country truly exemplifies the power of the consumer to influence the products they are being sold, which is why we need to continue to pressure Walmart and other retailers to take these lead filled products out of their stores immediately.Read more...
For many of us, cancer feels like it surrounds us – so many friends, family members, co-workers, and neighbors seem to be carrying this health burden in neighborhoods throughout our state, and throughout the nation. In Massachusetts, one hundred people on average are diagnosed with cancer every day. Since the mid 1980s cancer rates have risen 14% among men and 19% among women. The good news: due to a landmark law passed here in 1989, we’re making real progress in stemming this tide.
In 1989, Massachusetts passed the Toxic Use Reduction Act (TURA) to protect public health and the environment while helping industries maintain and improve their competitiveness. This law has been an undisputed success. According to a new report by the Toxic Use Reduction Institute (TURI), Trends in the Use and Release of Carcinogens in Massachusetts, by 2010 the use of carcinogens in Massachusetts facilities had declined by 32% and release had declined by 93% from 1989 levels. According to the World Health Organization the most cost efficient way to fight cancer is through primary prevention strategies, such as toxics use reduction, so laws like TURA are key health protecting and cost saving measures.
The Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow is united in our efforts to prevent harm to health from toxic chemicals that are contributing to the largest health epidemics of our times -- cancer, asthma, learning disabilities and many more. Our major national chemical safety policy, the Toxics Substances Control Act of 1976, is widely viewed as outdated and deeply flawed, resulting in hazardous chemicals being found in everyday household and workplace products that expose our families to hidden health threats.
Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow has worked for many years, as part of the Safer Chemicals Healthy Families and SAFER States coalitions, to build momentum for reforms that would better protect our health and stimulate green chemistry innovations. This summer, the late Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Senator David Vitter (R-LA) introduced a new bill, the Chemical Safety Improvement Act (CSIA), in the U.S. Senate that signals bi-partisan interest in finally moving beyond our failed policies of the past. The bill needs significant amendments to effectively advance the new protections we believe are vital to safer chemicals and 21st century innovations. Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow member groups have developed a set of recommondations to improve the bill and meet our goals. We are also continuing to press for reforms at the state level in Massachusetts so that safer alternatives replace toxic chemicals locally. The bill’s federal preemption provisions are too broad, which limit state actions on certain chemicals falling into the low or high prioritized categories. The improvements and recommendations put forward by Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow would greatly enhance the effectiveness of this bill and only if these amendments are made, will the bill have our support.Read more...
The Safe Chemicals Act of 2013 was introduced last week by twenty nine senators, led by Senators Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). The legislation would provide long overdue fixes to the nation’s broken chemical policies and limit the use of unsafe chemicals linked to cancer and other illnesses.
This legislation is supported by Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, a coalition of nurses, moms, learning disability advocates, small business owners, reproductive health advocates, cancer survivors, and many others from across the nation all coming together to protect families from toxic chemicals. Andy Igrejas, executive director of Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families said:
"Americans across the political spectrum have woken up to the fact that unregulated toxic chemicals get into their homes and their bodies. It is uniformly unnerving. The Safe Chemicals Act would establish common sense limits on these chemicals that are broadly popular and long overdue."
Whether they know it or not, American families are exposed to toxic substances like lead, mercury, and formaldehyde everyday in their own homes. Our country’s system for regulating toxic chemicals is broken, allowing toxic chemicals to find their way into common household items like laundry detergent, couches, and even baby shampoo.
The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) is the only law our nation has guiding regulation of toxic chemicals—it has not been updated since 1976. Since that time, hundreds of new chemicals have entered the market and our homes without being tested for safety. Meanwhile, the rates of chronic illnesses like asthma, cancer, and reproductive and developmental have continued to rise.
Members of the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow traveled from Massachusetts all the way to Washington DC to join mothers from across the country in a Stroller Brigade march in support of the Safe Chemicals Act.
With chants of "People have a right to know! Toxic chemicals have to go!" and "Chems in kids, that's the worst, time to put the people first!" Approximately 200 moms, nurses, cancer survivors and other passionate citizens from across the United States gathered in Washington DC on May 22nd for a Stroller Brigade for Safe Chemicals organized by Safer Chemicals Healthy Families.
The Stroller Brigade participants sent a strong message to Congress: Our families are sick and struggling and we are tired of unawarely bringing toxic chemicals into our homes and exposing our children and ourselves because the United States has inadequate chemical safety laws. It's unacceptable that the only law we have is the broken, ineffective and outdated Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 (TSCA). We can do better and we must in order to protect our health and lower health care costs in this country.
The primary US law aimed at protecting our health from toxic chemicals is the Toxic Substances Control Act, or TSCA. TSCA was passed in 1976 and has not been updated since then.
In 1976, Gerald Ford was president, The Washington DC Metro ran its first train, Elvis Presley was still performing, no one had heard of the internet yet and rotary phones were still the norm. We've come a long way since 1976, but unfortunately, our nation's chemical law has not.
TSCA was a poorly written law when it was passed. The EPA was not even able to use it to regulate the known carcinogen asbestos in the 1980s. Even if it had been an effective law then, it would need updating. We have learned so much about toxic chemicals and our use of them has changed so much since 1976.
Enter the Safe Chemicals Act of 2011. In April, Senators Frank Lautenberg, Barbara Boxer, Amy Klobuchar, Charles Schumer and others introduced the Safe Chemicals Act of 2011 to upgrade America's outdated system for managing chemical safety and to protect families from toxic chemicals linked to serious health problems.
In August, moms and kids dressed as superheros and paid visits to the Boston offices of Massachusetts Senators Scott Brown and John Kerry to ask them to be heroes and co-sponsor the Safe Chemicals Act. Watch the video of their day of action to see some young superheros with a powerful message:Read more...
Yesterday the Massachusetts Senate took a stand for our health by urging Congress to reform the outdated Toxic Substances Control Act.
At the urging of Senator Steven Tolman (D-Brighton), the Senate adopted a resolution, "Memorializing the Congress of United States to support legislation that reforms the federal Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976." California and Illinois passed similar resolutions earlier this year.
The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), passed in 1976 under President Gerald Ford, is our nation’s main law aimed at regulating chemicals used in everyday products. It is out of date and ineffective at protecting the public from chemicals that have been linked to cancer, learning disabilities, asthma, reproductive problems, and other serious diseases.Read more...
"Who says politics has to be dull?" asks Kristi Marsh of Easton, who came with her 3 children to yesterday's "stroller brigade for safer chemicals" in Boston. All four Marshes, along with about 30 other moms and kids, donned superhero capes and visted the offices of Senators Brown and Kerry to urge them to be heros by co-sponsoring the Safe Chemicals Act.
The Safe Chemicals Act of 2011 (S.847), introduced by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (NJ) would increase chemical safety, inform consumers and the marketplace on chemical hazardous and protect vulnerable populations like pregnant women and children. Yesterday's event was one of 17 around the country.Read more...
Actress, activist, and mother Jessica Alba made a trip to Washington DC this week to lend her influential voice to the effort to protect our health from toxic chemicals. Alba, who is pregnant with her second child, joined the Safer Chemicals Healthy Families campaign and moms from around the country in meeting with Key members of congress to ask them to co-sponsor the Safe Chemicals Act of 2011 (S. 847), recently introduced by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ).
Among her stops was a meeting with Senator Scott Brown from Massachusetts, where she was joined by Massachusetts mom and cancer survivor, Erin Boles, of the Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition. (Pictured here from left to right are Boles, Brown, Alba and Lindsay Dahl of the Safer Chemicals Healthy Families campaign.)Read more...
Last May, the Presidential Cancer Panel presented President Obama with its annual report which confirmed that toxic chemicals are a grossly underestimated risk factor for cancer. The Panel urged President Obama to “most strongly use the power of your office” to eliminate human exposure to cancer-causing chemicals.
So far, nothing has changed. Of over 80,000 chemicals on the market today, only a few hundred of them have been tested for safety. Exposure to actual and potential cancer-causing chemicals is widespread. Toxic chemicals that cause cancer are in products like clothing, furniture, cleaning products, and plastics used by children, women, and men on a daily basis. The chemical industry continues to exploit regulatory weakness by introducing chemicals into the environment that have not been proven to be safe. Pregnant women have been found to carry toxic chemicals in their bodies, which leads to babies being born with a burden of chemicals over which they had no control. The majority of Americans are unaware of the dangers of chemical exposure in their daily lives.
Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow is joining the Safer Chemicals Healthy Families campaign and others across the country in calling on President Obama to protect us from toxic chemicals. Please find the full text of the petition below. If you haven't yet had the opportunity to sign the petition, please click here to add your voice!
Every minute, at least one American will die from cancer. What is particularly frightening about this statistic is that, contrary to general assumption, many of these cancers could have been prevented.
Americans are exposed to cancer-causing chemicals on a daily basis, in the workplace, in classrooms, and even in our homes. Right now, it’s perfectly legal to add chemicals known to cause cancer to the products we use every day, including children’s toys, furniture, food containers and cosmetics. By setting the course for a national cancer prevention strategy that includes eliminating the use of cancer-causing chemicals, the President can reverse decades of failed policies that have allowed those chemicals to contaminate our lives and endanger our health.
In mid November, the federal government got closer than it's ever been to a ban on Bisphenol-A (BPA) in baby bottles and sippy cups -- and failed.
The amendment's sponsor was Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). She had brokered an agreement between many in the Senate -- Republicans and Democrats alike -- and had obtained agreement from important trade associations like the Grocery Manufacturers association to add a BPA amendment to the Food Safety Modernization Act (a bill which is addressing food recalls and tainted products).
While the Food Safety Bill is continuing to be pushed through, it will be without the BPA amendment.
Though Senator Feinstein had reached a compromise with Senate Republicans and the amendment looked well on its way to inclusion, strong last minute pressure from the American Chemistry Council (ACC) caused the amendment's votes to fall.Read more...
You've been hearing us talk about Safe Chemicals legislation pending in Congress -- the Safe Chemicals Act in the Senate and the Toxic Chemicals Safety Act in the House -- two bills which will overhaul the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the decades-old federal law that oversees chemical regulation. It is hopelessly out of date, and we are working hard to reform it. These bill proposals are our chance to pass meaningful toxics reform in the US that will protect our families from toxic chemicals that are currently found throughout our homes.
In the past six months, we've been asking for persistent, bioaccumalative toxics (PBTs) to be given special attention in the proposed bills.
PBTs are just a fancy way of identifying chemicals that build up in our systems, and cause problems with our health and with the environment. These are the worst of the worst chemicals like lead, mercury, the compound used to make Teflon and some flame retardants.
PBTs are uniquely dangerous because they pose a triple threat. They persist in the environment for long periods of time and can be transported long distances; they accumulate in living organisms and increase in concentration as they move up the food chain; and, they are highly toxic, often at very low levels of exposure.
When the bill proposal was first floated a few months ago, it looked like PBTs were not going to be given special consideration, despite our best efforts. We asked for your support, and many of you called Congress to ask that PBTs be included in the Safe Chemicals Act.
The House bill, (HR 5820) was introduced last Thursday by Representatives Bobby Rush (D-IL) and Henry Waxman (D-CA) and included important provisions for PBTs.
The public was heard. We thank you for all your support in helping to push through this important provision, and give a standing ovation to Representatives Rush and Waxman for their hard work. Of course, we won't rest until a strong federal bill is passed, and we are protected. It will be a tough fight against the powerful chemical industry who wants to keep the status quo and have ultimate control over secret formulas and hidden ingredients that are harmful to our health.
Here's what the states had to say about the introduction of the Toxic Chemical Safety Act:
"The Toxic Chemical Safety Act is much improved now that it includes a phaseout of chemicals we know pose serious health and environmental threats. Washington State has been targeting these chemicals for over a decade and it's time the federal government caught up. This legislation is just plain commonsense and long overdue."
- Ivy Sager-Rosenthal, Campaign Director, Washington Toxics Coalition
"The Toxic Chemicals Safety Act of 2010 follows on the heels of essential work in Minnesota to protect public health from toxic chemicals. The bill directs the EPA to take action on certain high risk chemicals that build up in the human body, like brominated flame retardants, which have been the subject of state regulation across the country."
- Kathleen Schuler, Co-Director, Healthy Legacy
"We're really pleased that this bill reflects modern science and gives the EPA additional tools to reduce exposure to PBT chemicals for all communities. It's especially important that the bill acknowledges the needs of vulnerable populations including low income communities of color that are unfairly overburdened, pregnant women, infants, workers and the elderly."
- Mark Mitchell, M.D., MPH, Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice, President and founding member of the Coalition for a Safe and Healthy Connecticut, who will be testifying on the bill before the Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection this Thursday.
"People have been led to believe that chemicals are proven safe before added to products we use every day, but the law doesn’t offer that protection ... Today’s legislation gives EPA both the authority and a mandate to begin making up for 34 years of neglect. Congress should seize this opportunity immediately."
- Andy Igrejas, Director of Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, a coalition of 250 environmental and public health groups.
"It's not enough to have packages that are green on the outside if what's inside is wreaking havoc on our health. We applaud Bobby Rush for his leadership on this crucial legislation and -- as the bill makes its way through the legislative process -- we urge him to fight to keep it strong."
- Sara Tamez, Campaign Coordinator, Illinois PIRG, in the Chicago Tribune.
To keep apprised of the latest news on the Safe Chemicals Acts as they move through Congress, read the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families blog, and check back here to see how reform in the states continues to sway the national agenda toward a safer toxic chemical policy.
Cindy Luppi, Clean Water Action
Mother’s Day is this Sunday and this year, we’re asking for a special gift for moms across the nation: a healthier future, free of toxic chemicals. Moms, dads, sons, daughters, and grandparents from coast to coast are raising their voices – and their cameras – in support of new legislation that would prevent harm to our health from toxic chemicals. Together we’re sending the message that chemicals linked to cancer, learning disabilities, reproductive disorders and other chronic health epidemics don’t belong in the products we use at home and at work. And that the time for change is now.
Let's make sure that our voices, here in Massachusetts, are heard loud and clear. Send a message to your legislators urging them to take action. Do it for your mom… Then, upload your photos with your loved ones and they will be posted on the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families site as a mother's day "quilt."
Good news! The Safe Chemicals Act of 2010 was introduced on Thursday, April 15th by Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Representatives Bobby Rush (D-IL) and Henry Waxman (D-CA). This is the first draft of landmark legislation to overhaul the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 (TSCA), which is our nation's outdated and ineffective law regulating toxic chemicals.
Some of the biggest reforms in the bill are:
- increasing safety standards to protect vulnerable populations, such as pregnant women and children
- requiring chemical companies to develop and make publicly available basic health and safety information for all chemicals
- creating a new program to strengthen protections for environmental justice communities, or communities identified as "hot spots" with increased exposure
The effort to update and reform our toxic chemical laws is moving from the state level to the federal level and was kicked off with a US Senate hearing on Thursday February 4th. The Senate Subcommittee on Superfund, Toxics and Environmental Health held the hearing to find out what scientists know about chemicals that are affecting our health. This is the first step in the journey to overhaul the Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA). TSCA is our federal law that governs toxic chemical production and use, but it is decades-old and in desperate need of updating.
In a crowded hearing room, Senators mulled over TSCA and seemed to be in agreement that current laws are inadequate to protect families and children from health effects linked to toxic chemical exposure. TSCA is due to be updated with new legislation in early 2010.
Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner, Laurie Burt, joined forces with officials from twelve other states today to dictate a set of eight guiding principles to be used for reform of the Toxic Substances Control Act, or TSCA -- a law from 1976 which provides the EPA with the authority to regulate toxic chemicals.
The Obama Administration and Lisa Jackson, Administrator of the EPA, recently acknowledged that a major overhaul of this decades-old law is imperative for public safety.
There is concern, however, about the way that the Administration is setting out to reform TSCA. Some advocates are concerned that the changes are proposed by EPA will results in endless government studies and gridlock, rather than action.Read more...
Seventh Generation, a company known for a focus on safe, non-toxic cleaning products, is sponsoring the Million Baby Crawl to demand toxic chemical policy reform from Congress.
The Crawl consists of a virtual baby march. On the site, you can create a baby avatar to add to the march as fun way to show your support for a new law to protect us from health-harming chemicals.
Join us at the Crawl to Action: November 18th, 2009 at the Burlington Mall - Kids Play Area. Join to support toxic chemical policy reform, learn more about safe household products, enjoy family-friendly live entertainment and children's interactive activities, and receive free Seventh Generation products.Read more...
The tides are changing! Tuesday night, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson announced that chemical management reform will be one of the top priorities of the Obama EPA.
In a speech in San Francisco, Jackson said the time had come to strengthen EPA’s authority to regulate toxic chemicals, which are ubiquitous in the environment and human bodies.
The nation’s toxic chemical law, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) has been on the books since 1976 but has been woefully under-enforced. The EPA needs better tools.Read more...
We have good news and bad news. Which do you want first?
Let's start with the good news: there is a new website, just launched, where you can go to get lots of information to help you deduce which products are safe and unsafe for you, your family, and ... your pets (more on that later). HealthyStuff.org is your one stop shop for information over 5,000 common items such as pet products, women’s handbags, back-to-school products, children’s toys, cars and children’s car seats. That's what's there now, and the list keeps growing!