Thursday, December 3, 2009

States: Federal toxics laws too weak

Associated Press Writer
Published Wednesday, Dec. 02, 2009
AUGUSTA, Maine -- Environmental officials in Maine and a dozen other states
issued a statement Wednesday saying federal laws to protect the public from
toxic chemicals are too weak and states instead are leading the way.
The joint statement asks for changes in national laws so they will protect
vulnerable populations by identifying and regulating the most troubling
chemicals in consumer items and elsewhere. It also says manufacturers should
provide regulators with enough information to show that chemicals used in
their products are safe to humans and won't harm the environment.
"Current federal chemical regulations fail to adequately protect the
nation's citizens and environment from toxic chemicals and unsafe products,"
said David Littell, commissioner of the Maine Department of Environmental
Protection. "The effects of exposure to toxic chemicals on human health, the
environment and the economy are enormous and often avoidable."
The 13 states' Principles on Reform of the Toxic Substances Control Act also
says chemical and safety information should be widely available to
businesses and the public.
In their statement, the states said they are the leading innovators in
regulating toxics. Maine and Washington, for example, have policies to
promote safer chemicals in children's products and prioritize hazardous
California's Green Chemistry Initiative seeks to reduce and eventually
eliminate toxic chemicals from consumer goods through a "benign by design"
approach in which products are designed with safe chemicals. The effort, in
which the state works directly with manufacturers, is a work in progress,
said Maziar Movassaghi, acting director of California's Department of Toxic
Substances Control.
"No one else in the world has attempted to do what California is attempting
to do," said Movassaghi, adding that the state's policy represents "a
fundamental shift of environmental protection."
The states signing the statement are California, Connecticut, Illinois,
Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New
York, Oregon, Vermont and Washington.