Thursday, April 18, 2013

The NC Toxic Free Kids Act is great news!

by Fawn Pattison, Executive Director

This week, a bi-partisan team of legislators, led by Representatives Chuck McGrady (R-Henderson) and Pricey Harrison (D-Guilford) filed the NC Toxic Free Kids Act, H.B. 848. The bill would ban three notorious contaminants from children's products, and create a Priority Chemicals List in North Carolina. 

This is awesome news!

Harmful chemicals continue to be found in children’s products, even though safer alternatives are available. Toxic chemicals known to be used in the products that children use every day include:
·      BPA in food packaging such as baby food and infant formula containers.
·      Phthalates in toys, scented lotions, shampoos and other personal care products.
·      Flame retardants in nursery furniture, nursing pillows and carseats.

Priority Chemicals are persistent in our environment and bodies. They have been found to cause health effects like cancer, reproductive harm or adverse effects on brain development. Cancer is on a slow and steady increase in American children, rising 22% from 1975 to 2004 (1).  Autism now affects 1 in 88 American children, and 1 in 54 boys (2).  Exposure to toxic chemicals is an important factor in these devastating diseases.

There is no comprehensive system in place to assure that highly hazardous chemicals are not being used in children’s products. That means many toxic chemicals are ending up in a place they shouldn’t: our children’s bodies.

What’s the Solution?
In order to reduce our children’s exposure to toxic chemicals, North Carolina needs a mechanism to begin phasing out the use of dangerous chemicals in children’s products:
Disclosure. The NC Department of Environment & Natural Resources would work together with the NC Division of Public Health to develop a list of Priority Chemicals that pose unnecessary risks to children’s health.
Phase Out. Ends the use of two cancer‐causing Tris flame retardants (TCDPP and TCEP), as well as the plastic additives Bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates in children’s products.
Safer Products. Requires makers of children’s products that contain chemicals from the Priority Chemicals List to begin identifying safer chemicals or materials for their products.

Market-Driven Approach
Thanks to innovative solutions being developed in response to consumer demand, mercury, toxic flame retardants, lead, and other persistent toxic chemicals all are being phased out of consumer products. Providing manufacturers with a Priority Chemicals List can help end the toxic treadmill of substituting one bad chemical for another, and help businesses avoid costly substitution problems.
In the last decade, 18 states have passed more than 70 laws to ban chemicals in products or create new chemical management programs at the state level (for examples see Maine’s Kid Safe Products Act; Washington’s Children's Safe Product Act; Minnesota’s Toxic Free Kids Act).

Comprehensive toxics reform is the solution that we need. But until Congress decides to act on it, the onus is on states to cope with the toxic soup to which we are all exposed. A bill focused on children, who are at highest risk, and narrowly focused on three of the worst-offender chemicals, is an excellent step towards protecting the health and the futures of North Carolina's children.

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