NOTE: This is a guest post from Lindsay Dahl, Deputy Director of Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families.
As headlines continue to splatter our news channels about toxic chemicals ending up in ordinary consumer products, more consumers are turning to the federal government for leadership.
Our federal laws on toxic chemicals are so weak (they haven’t been updated since 1976, when Gerald Ford was President), that it’s clear the government has done little to mind the store and protect us from toxic chemicals.
As a result, consumers all across America are faced with difficult decisions about the products we buy for our homes. At Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, we’re asking retailers to work with us to move the marketplace away from toxic chemicals while we continue to urge Congress to pass the Safe Chemicals Act (which was recently introduced by Senators Lautenberg, Gillibrand and 27 others).
Retailers are equally disadvantaged by our weak federal laws and have an interest in joining our fight for the Safe Chemicals Act. They don’t want to be known for selling products that contain toxic chemicals, but under federal law the health and uses of these chemicals is often protected under a veil of secrecy.
The good news is that retailers can work with our coalition, and consumers demanding safer products, to significantly move the market away from toxic chemicals. In a new campaign called Mind the Store, we’ve asked the nation’s top ten retailers to get tough on toxic chemicals.
Many of these ten retailers have already taken steps to move away from toxic chemicals, steps that should be celebrated. But when you look at the magnitude of the problem, it quickly becomes clear that these initiatives fall short of fully protecting public health from toxic chemicals.
Here are a few examples of chemicals we’re seeing in everyday consumer products:
- Formaldehyde and formaldehyde releasing preservatives [in shampoos, lotions, wrinkle-free clothing and bedding]
- Parabens [in cosmetics and personal care products]
- Toxic flame retardants [couches, electronics and children's products]
- Phthalates [in PVC plastic, flooring, building materials and school supplies]
For more information on how to avoid these chemicals, visit the Mind the Store website.
What we’re asking is that the retailers create action plans to move away from what we’re calling the Hazardous 100+ toxic chemicals. It’s a big ask of these retailers, but I’m hopeful they are up to the task. Their customer base is changing. This is no longer a niche ‘green mom’ movement.
Moms of all political stripes and backgrounds are concerned about the health of their families and want to make smart shopping decisions. Do you think retailers can step up and Mind the Store?