Archive for the ‘Toxic Substances Control Act’ Category

Updated Toxic Substances Control Act Back in Action

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011


Lautenberg introduces Safe Chemicals Act of 2011

Sen. Frank Lautenberg

Millions of parents around the U.S. are becoming aware of the dangers of toxic chemicals in our homes and in the environment. They’ve taken steps to eliminate them: They buy organic crib mattresses, outfit their baby’s nursery with non-toxic furniture and décor, use non-toxic cleaning supplies, wear clothing made with natural fibers, use air purifiers, eat organic food, and so on. But we’re all still waiting for the federal government to step up to the plate and update the Toxic Substances Control Act to help give us the protection we need.

Although the Toxic Substances Control Act has been on the books since 1976, the way it’s written makes it virtually impossible for anything to be done when goods made with toxic chemicals enter the marketplace. In fact, about 80,000 new chemicals have been created and introduced to our daily lives since 1976 and only about 200 have been tested for safety and only a handful have been restricted.

Last fall, an updated Toxic Substances Control Act was introduced to congress by New Jersey’s Senator Frank Lautenberg. Check out Sen. Lautenberg’s video about the bill. It did not pass at the time, but has just been reintroduced.

There is an abundance of scientific evidence linking toxic chemicals to health problems. Study results have been clear enough to warrant 18 states passing their own laws. Also, hundreds of thousands of businesses now offer non-toxic alternatives. Almost every major grocery store chain now carries non-toxic cleaning supplies, for example, and some corporations, like Walmart, have even taken it as far as banning products with specific, very commonly used but dangerous chemicals from their shelves.

The American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC) is just one group of supporters. It represents more than 70,000 businesses – Naturepedic is among them.

Our founder – also a grandfather, concerned citizen and environmental engineer – Barry A. Cik, was quoted by the ASBC in a recent news release:

“I saw Lake Erie die and then observed how the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976 helped bring it back to life,” he said. “Our company was created to help stop the rampant misuse of chemicals. Naturepedic is determined to give babies and their families an alternative free of questionable chemicals. There are very few, if any, responsibilities that we have that are more important than providing a safe environment for our children. Naturepedic is asking Congress and the American public to level the playing field for businesses and make sure that all babies and children are provided with safe and healthy products free of questionable chemicals by passing this needed legislation.”

With 18 states having their own laws in place – although they don’t cover all the bases by a long shot – and hundreds of thousands of companies offering non-toxic goods, you can have a close to toxic-free household with little effort. But the new Toxic Substances Control Act will give us more choices and make it easier to get what we need to help ensure the health of our children, ourselves, and our environment.

To summarize the new law, called the Safe Chemicals Act of 2011, we would see the following changes:

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would be required to identify and restrict the “worst of the worst” chemicals, those that persist and build up in the food chain.

Any product containing chemicals and being introduced to the marketplace, or continuing to be available, would be required to first supply basic health and safety information.

Scientific methods for testing and evaluating chemicals would be upgraded to reflect best practices called for by the National Academy of Sciences.

Generally provide EPA with the tools and resources it needs to identify and address chemicals posing health and environmental concerns.

If you would like to support the Safe Chemicals Act of 2011, call your congressman and let him know how you feel.

Some States Offer Protection Against Harmful Chemicals

Thursday, October 21st, 2010


If you live in New York state and are concerned about protecting your children, and yourself, from the potential toxic chemicals in household cleaning products, you’re going to have a helping hand from New York state government in the very near future.

Even though Federal law does not currently require companies to list their household or industrial cleaning product ingredients, individual states are free to make their own laws and set their own policies.

The state of New York, just one state that is taking action, has had a law on the books for nearly 40 years that requires household and industrial cleaners to provide “unusually detailed breakdowns, complete with percentages,” as well as any research the companies have done on the effects of the ingredients in their products on our health and the environment.

The law has never been enforced. But now, amid growing evidence of the potential health hazards of some of the chemicals used to make these products, and under pressure from consumer groups, New York will finally enforce the law.

The American Cleaning Institute, known until June as the Soap and Detergent Association, says research linking cleaning product ingredients to various health problems – including asthma, antibiotic resistance, and hormone changes – is flawed and the products are safe if used correctly. They also say that the products encourage human health by inhibiting the spread of disease.

But, as we know, there are plenty of non-toxic cleaning products available; and even things as simple as baking soda and vinegar will help prevent the spread of disease.

Some companies are very cooperative, even going as far as listing the chemical contents of fragrances and dyes, which is very unusual. Others feel that disclosing information in that detail risks giving away trade secrets.

Find out more about New York’s plans at NY to Seek Info On Cleanser Contents. Also, New York is not the only state taking action. Find out more about what’s going on in your state on the Safer States website.

New Toxic Chemicals Act Didn’t Pass in Congress – But Don’t Give Up!

Thursday, October 14th, 2010


For parents and others concerned about the toxic chemical ingredients and materials in products we use every day, the new Toxic Substances Control Act not getting enacted in Congress is quite a disappointment (read more at Reform of Toxic Chemicals Law Collapses as Industry Flexes Its Muscles). Discouraging as it may be, the real truth is this: no matter who flexes their muscles, we, each of us, are still in control. And there is hope on the horizon.

The bill, as it was worded, had the potential for real protection – one provision of the bill, for example, was that companies would be made responsible for ensuring that the chemicals they use in their products aren’t harmful. A very big change from the way things have been done, and that’s only one section of the bill.

The bill will be re-worked and presented again, and change will happen. The many individuals and groups, too numerous to mention, who have worked so long and hard on getting things this far will continue, along with others who join the ranks, and there will be progress.

But government tends to change slowly and, for now, we’re still on our own. It’s not illegal to give consumers toxic chemicals and that’s unlikely to change in the near future. So, we’re still living our lives with ‘buyer beware’ as our mantra and we have to be vigilant.

In all truth, we can live and consume safely. There are hundreds or thousands of companies that choose not to use toxic chemicals in the materials, manufacturing and finishing of their goods.

At Naturepedic, for example, we choose to make crib mattresses and other goods without toxic chemicals. We founded the company with that purpose in mind and we will continue to fulfill that purpose. That is what parents want, and that’s not going to change.

Companies that have that purpose will continue to thrive, more will start up, and still others will adopt that purpose. Eventually, the government will catch up. And industry will get the idea that toxic chemicals are just not acceptable.

Sometimes things have to be done over and over again in order to create change – don’t be discouraged. It will happen.

In the meantime, check sites like Debra’s List to find companies that are dedicated to providing non-toxic products.

New Pesticide Marketing Campaign May Be Confusing. What Should You Believe?

Thursday, October 7th, 2010


In the not too distant future you may see advertisements, information hand-outs, signs in the produce areas of grocery stores, you might even hear radio advertising, all promoting the idea that the pesticide residues on fruits and vegetables really aren’t harmful. If you’re concerned about pesticides – which would make you part of a whopping 90% majority of the U.S. population – you might wonder if other information you’ve received on the dangers of pesticides is actually true. Well, here’s the story behind the ads.

Recently, the Federal government approved $180,000 for the Alliance for Food and Farming to “help with a public education campaign to correct misconceptions that some produce items contain excessive amounts of pesticide residues.” The ‘produce items’ being referenced are those on the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen List – the top 12 on a list showing the pesticide residue on about 50 fruits and vegetables.

EWG suggests we buy organically-grown Dirty Dozens so we can avoid the pesticides. The Alliance group, on the other hand, says there is no evidence of a health risk.

The EWG information is based on analysis of 89,000 tests conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The tests were on fruits and vegetables that had already been washed and/or peeled – basically, in the same conditions under which they would normally be eaten.

So, there is no doubt that the pesticide residues are there.

Why does the Alliance say there is no health risk? One of the Alliance associates said the EPA rules protect us. “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a rigorous, health-protective process for evaluating the potential risks of pesticides on food. This process includes considerations for fetuses, infants and children as well as adults.”

But, the EPA doesn’t have the same faith in their ability to protect us – as is clear from a speech given by EPA administrator, Lisa Jackson, in her address to the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco:

“A child born in America today will grow up exposed to more chemicals than a child from any other generation in our history. A 2005 study found 287 different chemicals in the cord blood of 10 newborn babies – chemicals from pesticides, fast food packaging, coal and gasoline emissions, and trash incineration. They were found in children in their most vulnerable stage. Our kids are getting steady infusions of industrial chemicals before we even give them solid food. Now, some chemicals may be risk-free at the levels we are seeing. I repeat: some chemical may be risk-free. But as more and more chemicals are found in our bodies and the environment, the public is understandably anxious and confused. Many are turning to government for assurance that chemicals have been assessed using the best available science, and that unacceptable risks haven’t been ignored.

”Right now, we are failing to get this job done. Our oversight of the 21st century chemical industry is based on the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act. It was an important step forward at the time – part of a number of environmental wins from the 1970s, like the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act, not to mention the formation of the EPA. But over the years, not only has TSCA fallen behind the industry it’s supposed to regulate – it’s been proven an inadequate tool for providing the protection against chemical risks that the public rightfully expects.”

Add to that the revelations and recommendations made in the 2010 President’s Cancer Panel Report, entitled Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk: What We Can Do Now:

“Many known or suspected carcinogens first identified through studies of industrial and agricultural occupational exposures have since found their way into soil, air, water and numerous consumer products…Some of these chemicals have been found in maternal blood, placental tissue, and breast milk samples from pregnant women and mothers who recently gave birth. Thus, chemical contaminants are being passed on to the next generation, both prenatally and during breastfeeding.”

“Exposure to pesticides can be decreased by choosing, to the extent possible, food grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers…Similarly, exposure to antibiotics, growth hormones, and toxic run-off from livestock feed lots can be minimized by eating free-range meat raised without these medications.”

It’s pretty clear from the EPA and President’s Cancer Panel statements that the pesticide concerns of 90% of the U.S. population are well-founded.

I hope this information helps you in the decision making process if the marketing campaign that $180,000 is supposed to pay for ever does become a reality.

Check out Safer Chemicals Healthy Families’ New Video – By Moms, For Moms

Sunday, June 13th, 2010


Safer Chemicals Healthy Families, an organization dedicated to ensuring new safety standards for chemicals are established and met, has released a video made by Moms, for Moms to help educate families and organizations on the dangers of toxic chemicals. It’s called Moms Take Action Against Toxic Chemicals, and is available by following the link.

Safer Chemicals Healthy Families is a coalition representing more than 11 million people in the U.S. including parents, health professionals, advocates for people with learning and developmental disabilities, reproductive health advocates, environmentalists and businesses.

They provide a wealth of information and are working to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act. The Act was written in 1976 and has not changed since that time despite growing evidence of the link between toxic chemicals and health. Chemicals have been linked to everything from diabetes to learning disabilities.

Naturepedic is also a member of the coalition. Our organic crib mattresses are designed to help prevent exposure to toxic chemicals, but we would like to see everyone, not just babies, living safer lives.

Check out the video and, while you’re on the site, also check the list of participating organizations. You may find quite a few in there that would help you find the resources you need to further your personal quest and answer your questions!

This Earth Day Celebrates a Major Accomplishment

Saturday, April 24th, 2010


Earth Day was officially on 22 April, but in many communities and countries around the world it’s celebrated for the entire week or month. Earth Day was founded 40 years ago by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin. His goal was to create a grassroots movement that would show the government just how concerned Americans were about the environment and get laws enacted that would enforce protection of the earth and its inhabitants – us.

By the end of that year, in December 1970, the Environmental Protection Agency opened its doors. A very good start.

Since that time, there have been many years when there has been little to celebrate. Although there has been continual progress, including some milestones, there have also been pretty serious setbacks. For example, of the 80,000 chemicals that have been produced and used in the U.S. since the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) was enacted 34 years ago, only 200 have been tested by the EPA, and only five have been regulated.

But in the last year, the EPA has undergone some equally serious reform. Finally, the agency is really buckling down on toxic chemicals, both in the environment and in consumer goods.

There is special attention on children, as it should be. Children are most susceptible to toxic chemicals because their bodies are still growing. In the not too distant future, it is our children and grandchildren, the little ones asleep in their cribs right now, who will lead the way in politics, as teachers, as firefighters, artists, business owners and so on, and so on.

To do their jobs well, to achieve their goals and have a satisfying, happy and productive life, they need to be healthy.

At Naturepedic, we celebrate Earth Day every day. We give children a healthy start in life by manufacturing our award-winning organic baby crib mattresses that are certified by GREENGUARD and enjoy the unique distinction of being the only crib mattress recommended by Healthy Child Healthy World.

Do you have a Naturepedic mattress for your infant or toddler? If not, you might want to celebrate Earth Day/Week/Month by checking them out at http://www.Naturepedic.com.

You can also celebrate Earth Day by working on creating a personal environment that is more chemical-free. It really doesn’t take much to get a good start. Read Going Green in 2010 – A Few Simple Things With A Big Impact for some helpful hints that make a real difference.

Start now, and next year your family will also have even more to celebrate on Earth Day!

New Safe Chemicals Act Shifts Accountability and Burden of Proof to Industry

Sunday, April 18th, 2010


Many people have complained about needing a degree in chemistry to understand which products are safe and which are not. New Safe Chemicals Act may enable the protection we need.

In February we wrote a blog about The Health Case for Reforming the Toxic Substances Control Act, a new health report from Safer Chemicals Healthy Families. See Toxic Chemicals Are Putting Your Children at Risk. The tireless efforts of many people have finally paid off – landmark legislation that completely overhauls the broken system used by government to protect us from toxic chemicals has been introduced in Congress.

Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Congressmen Bobby Rush (D-IL) and
Henry Waxman (D-CA) are the authors of the new Safe Chemicals Act, formerly known as the Kid-Safe Chemicals Act.

Here are some of the highlights to give you an idea of what the new law would do:

– (Finally) empower the EPA to regulate toxic chemicals, and act quickly when necessary.

– Ensure the EPA is provided with sufficient information to evaluate the safety of a chemical.

– Establish new research programs to help us understand the risk toxic industrial chemicals pose to children, ourselves, and the environment.

– Force industry to prove their products are safe, both those already on the market and those they introduce in the future. Formerly, the burden of proof was the responsibility of the EPA, which didn’t have the power, information or funding needed to fulfill the obligation.

– Provide the public with transparent and adequate information to make their own judgments and decisions.

– and more.

The Safe Chemicals Act will “breathe new life into a long-dead statute by empowering EPA to get tough on toxic chemicals,” said Senator Lautenberg.

And that’s exactly what we need to protect ourselves, our children, and our environment.

If you would like to read the bill in its entirety, it’s available here.

Stay tuned for updates!