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States Consider Chemical Legislation
In the last nine years, over 80 chemical safety laws have been passed with an overwhelming margin of bi-partisan support in statehouses across the country. To date, legislators in 28 states have introduced or intend to sponsor bills in 2012 addressing concerns over chemicals in consumer and institutional products, according to an analysis by Safer States, a coalition of state-based environmental organizations. This increased legislative activity targeting chemicals and chemical products stems from frustration with the lack of activity to address these issues at the federal level.
According to ISSA reports, Massachusetts State Sen. Katherine Clark (D) is expected to introduce soon a bill that would provide technical and financial assistance to businesses to help them use chemicals that are deemed safer than those they would replace.
"Efforts to update and strengthen our nation's chemical laws are stalled in Congress," Clark said. "Our goal in proposing the Safer Alternatives bill is to protect Massachusetts' children, families and workers rather than waiting for a federal solution."
Oregon Rep. Alissa Keny-Guyer (D) said that chemicals management at the "federal level is not moving as fast as we need, so that’s why we need to move."
Highlights of 2012 state legislation include:
• Disclosure of Chemical Ingredients. At least 13 states, including Alaska, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington will consider policies to identify and ultimately reduce exposures to chemicals of concern, including prioritizing chemicals for state action and requiring manufacturers of consumer and institutional products to disclose the chemicals in their products.
• Green Cleaning in Schools. Earlier this month, Vermont passed policy requiring manufacturers and distributors to only sell environmentally preferable cleaning products to schools. Last legislative session, New Jersey and North Carolina considered adopting a similar policy, and are expected to continue to pursue that objective. In addition, Kentucky presently has a green cleaning for schools bill pending in the General Assembly.
• BPA Phase Outs. At least 20 states will consider policy to restrict the use of the hormone-disrupting chemical BPA in infant formula cans, other food packaging, children's products, and receipt paper. Alaska, Alabama, Arizona, Connecticut, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, New Jersey, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin are all states considering such legislation.
This year's anticipated legislative activity would continue a pattern in which states consider laws to protect public health from chemical exposures, Safer States’ analysis said. Between 2003 and 2011, 18 states passed 81 chemical safety laws, according to the coalition. In 2011, toxics legislation was introduced in a total of 36 states, and 11 measures in eight states passed.
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