California seeks to remove toxins from consumer goods

Tuesday, March 25, 2014 by: J. D. Heyes
Tags: California, toxic chemicals, consumer products

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(NaturalNews) California is ripe for its share of disbelief and criticism over some offbeat policies and social mandates, but one thing that residents of the state are consistent about is their attempt to identify and rid themselves of harmful substances.

Regular readers of Natural News may recall that we supported Proposition 37, a California ballot measure that would have required labeling of GMO foods in the state. It ultimately failed, thanks to the millions of dollars spent by Big Ag and biotech giant Monsanto, which is the primary GMO culprit (though Monsanto is preparing to market new veggies it developed strictly through conventional crossbreeding).

(Read about our Prop 37 coverage here.)

But the larger point is this: Few other states take toxins as seriously as do Californians, it seems, so it's not surprising to learn that lawmakers there are preparing to take further steps to reduce toxins in a number of children's and consumer products.

As reported by the San Jose Mercury News:

California took steps to reduce the toxins found in children's sleeping products and home and building supplies [March 13], when regulators announced they would begin asking manufacturers to eliminate chemicals known to cause cancer and other illnesses.

In making the announcement, regulators with the California Department of Toxic Substances Control rolled out a program six years in the making -- the first of its kind in the nation -- that aims to minimize consumers' exposure to toxic chemicals.

Big win for environmentalists and consumers alike

"I can't even tell you what a big deal this is," Kathleen Curtis, the national coordinator for the Alliance for Toxic-Free Fire Safety, told the paper. "It's huge, and it's a super smart strategic move by the state of California."

State officials have developed a priority list of chemicals that they either want reduced or eliminated altogether from a number of products used by Californians: children's bedding items (like sleeping mats); paint strippers, removers and surface cleaners; and spray foams that are used to weatherize buildings and homes.

(Find out what common household chemicals are harmful enough to cause birth defects here.)

The state deputy director of the Department of Toxic Substances Control, Meredith Williams, told the paper that California's message to manufacturers is this: If you want to sell your wares in the state, you have to make safer products. Otherwise, risk being banned from the state with the country's biggest economy.

As you might expect, the announcement is a big win for environmental advocates who have been pushing for regulations mandating removal of toxins from products for years, especially those added as flame retardants. Studies demonstrate that some of the flame retardants blended into products don't actually do much to reduce fires; some have even been linked to remarkable health problems and risks.

Potential nationwide effect

One of the most widely used is a chemical called TDCPP, and -- under Safer Consumer Products regulations -- California will put pressure on its manufacturers to take it out of toddler nap mats, playpens, bassinets, cots and cribs.

Advocates note that the new requirements will pressure furniture and mattress makers to remove such chemicals from their products. And they see the California regs as having an effect nationwide.

"It will have a ripple effect though the larger industry," said Janet Nudelman, director of program and policy for the San Francisco-based Breast Cancer Fund. "It's a brilliant one-two punch."

Consumers, obviously, win too.

The National Research Council has demonstrated that TDCPP, which is commonly referred to as Tris, is a potential carcinogen linked to cancer in rats. It is on the state's Proposition 65 list of substances known to cause cancer.

A chemical that is nearly identical was banned from being included in children's pajamas in the 1970s, when health regulators first became concerned about its carcinogenic traits.

"You don't keel over dead, no, but years later, you can't have children or your kid has cancer," Curtis said.


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