Chemicals have been found in the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat. Making informed consumer decisions on an individual level can reduce your own exposure but cannot eliminate it entirely. We need larger measures to reduce the burden of toxins in our air and water on a statewide and national scale.
An Act for Healthy Families and Businesses” and the “Safer Alternatives Bill – Two accompanying bills re-filed in January 2013
Chemical Safety Improvement Act – Bipartisan counterpart, or replacement, to the Safe Chemicals Act (above
The Act for a Competitive Economy through Safer Alternatives to Toxic Chemicals “Safer Alternatives Act” (S.387)
With the help of members from Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow (AHT), or which MBCC is a founding member, a new version of the Act for a Competitive Economy through Safer Alternatives to Toxic Chemicals (Safer Alternatives Act) has been re-filed in the Massachusetts legislature under the name An Act for Healthy Families and Businesses by Senator Ken Donnelly. At the same time, a similar bill was re-filed under the old name by Senator Marc Pacheco. These bills spell out a plan for addressing hazardous chemicals in our everyday consumer products and seek to put a system in place to replace those most harmful with safer alternatives. If either bill is passed, it will operate in combination with the Toxics Use Reduction Act of 1989 (TURA), which focuses primarily on helping to reduce high-volume industrial use of toxic chemicals.
While TURA does help reduce exposure to toxic chemicals in industrial use settings, it does not protect citizens from exposure from consumer products. A variety of hazardous chemicals linked to breast cancer and other diseases have been found in our daily environments. Currently, these sources of exposure are not being adequately addressed. The Safer Alternatives Bill will fill this gap in TURA and protecting consumers from hazardous chemicals found in household items (cleaning products, cosmetics, toys, furniture etc.).
Earlier this year, both bills were reported upon favorably by the Environment Committee. They are now before the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. Make sure you check the list of co-sponsors and send your legislator a thank you note if they already support it. If you don’t see your legislator listed, contact them and ask them to support the bill throughout the legislative process!
Supporting federal policy is a great way to work towards country-wide breast cancer prevention. We have too many large-scale risks in the United States in terms of daily chemical exposure. These proposed bills would help reduce exposure to toxins in what we eat, drink, breathe, and touch.
A bill to amend the Toxic Substances Control Act to ensure that risks from chemicals are adequately understood and managed
The Safe Chemicals Act of 2013, similar to the Safe Chemicals Act of 2011 reforms the outdated Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 (TSCA) to repair some of its flaws. The proposed bill requires that chemical manufacturers prove their chemicals are safe before they go on the market. Furthermore, it provides a system for testing the health impacts of chemicals already in use and enables the EPA to identify and place restrictions on the worst chemicals.In May 2011 MBCC traveled to Capitol Hill to discuss with Senators and their staff MBCC’s support to pass the Safe Chemicals Act of 2011. About a year later (July 25th 2012), the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works voted on it favorably, making this the first time in over three decades a senate panel voted to reform the outdated Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 (TSCA)! The bill was then sent to the full senate for a vote. Unfortunately, it died with the end of the 2012-2013 legislative session. Contact your local senator and ask them to actively support the bill this time around. No more “safe until proven toxic” chemical policy – we need to take action to prevent diseases like breast cancer before they start!
Since the World War II, over 85,000 synthetic chemicals have been added to our environments but complete toxicological screening data is available for only 7% of them. Researchers have shown that there are over 216 chemicals in our everyday environment that are associated with breast cancer and there are hundreds of chemicals that have not even been tested yet! This research is summarized and compiled in Silent Spring Institute’s Mammary Gland Carcinogen Database. However, we still need more research on the environmental and health impacts of the chemicals we come in contact with every day. This bill would provide just that: under the Safe Chemicals Act of 2013, potentially harmful chemicals would be tested and the use of chemicals with the highest toxicity ratings (like known carcinogens) would be restricted. For the first time, the chemical industry will be required to develop and provide information on the health and environmental safety of their chemicals, in order to enter or remain on the market.
A bill to reauthorize and modernize the Toxic Substances Control Act, and for other purposes
CSIA lacks key measures to ensure that the new chemical management policy is effective at protecting the public from exposure to chemicals of concern:
To amend title VI of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to ensure the safe use of cosmetics, and for other purposes (H.R.2359)
The Safe Cosmetics Act of 2013, similar to the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011, will require the submission of health safety information for all ingredients prior to their use in cosmetics. It also creates a systematic way to assess and regulate cosmetics ingredients by dividing them into three categories: prohibited and restricted, safe without limits, and priority assessments. Finally, the Safe Cosmetics Act will reform current labeling laws to prohibit the ‘masking’ or ‘hiding’ of ingredients behind labels like ‘fragrance’ and ‘flavor’.
Many chemical ingredients found in cosmetics products are endocrine disruptors linked to breast cancer. Currently the FDA has no authority to require safety testing of cosmetics ingredients or require that companies list all ingredients on the label. Did you know the ingredient ‘fragrance’ can include hundreds of unnamed and untested chemicals? Right now, all regulation is conducted by the Cosmetics Industry Review (CIR) panel run by the cosmetics industry’s trade association. Essentially, the industry is policing itself! We must stop this ‘safe until proven otherwise’ cosmetics policy. The Safe Cosmetics Act of 2013 would give the FDA the authority it needs to require health safety assessments on ingredients before they have a chance to impact our health.
To ban the use of bisphenol-A in food containers, and for other purposes (H.R. 2248)
The Ban Poisonous Additives Act was re-introduced in June 2013 by former Rep. Ed Markey (now MA Senator) and has 20 co-sponsors. Nicknamed the “BPA Ban”, this bill would restrict the use of BPA in all reusable food and beverage containers as well as from the lining of cans and other food containers.
Bisphenol-A (BPA) is an endocrine disruptor and has been linked to breast cancer and other diseases. Research has indicated that exposures in the womb, infancy, and childhood can have adverse health effects later in life. Furthermore, a study conducted by Silent Spring Institute found that avoiding canned food and plastic food containers reduced the levels of BPA and phthalates in both adults and children. This means, packaged foods are a main source of these harmful chemicals in our bodies! What can I do to help? In July 2012 a federal ban on the use of BPA in sippy cups and baby bottles was announced. We applauded that effort but its time to protect both children and adults from BPA and phthalates in food packaging. In June 2013 this bill was referred to the House Subcommittee on Health. Last session, this bill died in committee so it is especially important that you take the time to contact your representatives and ask them to actively support the bill in this session.
At the end of the 2010-2012 legislative session, all of the bills which did not pass (those described above) are “dead” and must be reintroduced in 2013. A few of these bills have already been reintroduced. Now is a crucial moment to contact your legislators to actively support these bills, here are a few pointers:
The 2011-2012 State and Federal Legislative Sessions saw several proposed environmental health bills. Unfortunately none of them became law and so these bills must now be reintroduced to be considered by legislators during this session. The bills listed above have already been reintroduced but the following bills are still “dead”…