Geez I’m behind. I’ve been meaning to write about this forever! The EWG issue sort of kicked me into gear I guess. As I mentioned a while back, this July (on the 25th) a key Senate committee approved the first overhaul of federal chemicals regulation in 36 years.
What’s chemical regulation? I know right. The last time any sort of chemical regulations were passed [1976 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA)] was when most of us were in diapers or not even born. The actual passing of the Safe Chemicals Act was just about the biggest news of the summer.
TSCA is an incredibly weak U.S. environmental law (or so most rational people think) so for years now a teams of organizations, government officials and concerned parents, among others, have been trying to get some new safer chemical laws passed, and their work paid off this summer. After the Senate committee approval in July, Andy Igrejas, Campaign Director for Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families said the, “Vote is a victory for American families dealing with many health problems, like childhood cancer, linked to unregulated chemicals.”
Why this issue matters to your family
The Safe Chemicals Act was introduced in April, 2011, with the goal of updating and strengthening what’s an insanely flawed American industry and government system when it comes to chemicals. Current laws do almost nothing to protect you, your family and the environment from toxic chemicals. The July vote means that a Senate committee is considering taking measures that may shift how American companies have to test toxic chemicals and change how said chemicals are approved before they hit grocery store shelves.
To sum up, chemical reform, at it’s most basic would make your world easier. Imagine if there were actual chemical laws in place that said, “Hey, you CANNOT sell toxic crap to families” only, you know, nicer put. Then when you go shopping you won’t have to worry, “Is this shampoo safe“… “is this baby bottle safe”… “what health issues will this cleaner cause?” Can you, in your wildest dreams imagine a day where you can buy cosmetics, baby shampoo and cleaning products without having to spend nine million hours researching and worrying first? Chemical reform would rock the house right?
Lots of people were very excited over the July victory vote. I was too. It was huge news. However, there is a LONG uphill battle ahead of us before chemical reform becomes a reality. As this legislation attempts to move to the Senate floor, you can be sure of one thing, the chemical industry and I’d wager much of the government is not going to sit back nice and quiet and just allow chemical reform to happen.
The folks making chemicals are going to fight. They don’t want chemical reform. For years, companies have had this sweet don’t ask, don’t tell deal going on. No one makes sure chemicals used in products are safe and the companies chemicals support don’t want watchdogs.
Supporters of the Safe Chemical Act have been criticized at just about every level by the chemical industry. The chemical industry calls the Act “extreme” and think the Act is “moving too fast.” Plus the chemical industry insists that voluntary efforts are plenty good enough when it comes to regulating chemicals.
What happens next
Personally I’m worried. As Daniel Rosenberg points out, “It is too early to tell whether the Safe Chemicals Act will reach the Senate floor this year.” Rosenberg, like me and many others, knows that the chemical industry is going to try as hard as they can to prevent the Safe Chemicals Act from ever reaching the Senate.
If we sit back and do nothing, the chemical companies will win. If we get too excited by the vote that happened in July, and think that it solves all our problems, we’re going to lose. We have to be more pro-active.
What you SHOULD do…
If we relax now and leave chemical reform up to the government, I guarantee you that chemical reform will not happen. As parents we need to take action. Do the following and do it today.
- When you hear about companies using toxic chemicals in their products, call, write or email them. Tell them you’re boycotting them and then really do it. Don’t buy toxic products.
- Urge your senators to co-sponsor the Safe Chemicals Act.
- Educate yourself about the Safe Chemical Act.
- Blog, write, text, Facebook and tweet about this issue.
- Promote the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families campaign on your website or blog with a banner or simply by linking to http://www.saferchemicals.org/.
- Tell your friends about why chemicals suck and get them on board.
What you should NOT do…
- Give up.
- Allow other parents to take care of the problem.
What happens when we do nothing?
Not to dwell, because I know I mention this all the time, but remember the pink slime issue? That issue irked me to no end. Years before Pink Slime was struck (somewhat) from school lunches, myself and other people wrote about it, talked about it, and ranted about it. Nothing happened.
Why? We didn’t have enough voices trying to make a difference. Then years later, Pink Slime hit media gold somehow and enough parents got mad enough about it to call their schools demanding better. What happened then? Change happened.
The change in the case of pink slime was good of course, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t remind you that your kids ate pink slime meat for 9 long years, 5 years of which, the story was covered in the media all the time but parents chose to ignore it and do nothing. Come 2012, enough parents decided to DO something and in just weeks of citizen involvement much of the pink slime problem was solved.
Still in the end, kids ate pink slime for years and year and why? Because citizens didn’t take action. Don’t let chemical reform be like the pink slime issue. Take action now, not years from now. I think the drama surrounding the EWG healthy cleaners guide shows how badly we need chemical reform. Right now it’s impossibly difficult for busy families to find safe products. That can’t continue.
So, when it comes to chemical reform, what will you be doing to create change?