In more ways than one, states are leading the way to safer chemicals
A network of state laws are demanding information for consumers, and protecting our most vulnerable from the worst toxic hazards. But when partisan politics and industry influence get in the way of legislative action, state leaders find other ways to protect citizens. Many pieces are coming together to create a safer, healthier nation.
State Government Purchasing Policies
In 33 states and counting, governors have issued “environmentally preferable purchasing” policies. These policies direct the state’s procurement officials to identify and avoid toxic chemicals in the cleaning supplies, building materials and other products they purchase. Some policies take action on particular chemicals, such as Minnesota’s law to end the use of antibacterial soap containing triclosan. Others are broader, such as Oregon’s executive order designed to encourage “green chemistry” innovation.
State Agencies Acting Together
In 2013, state environmental agency leaders united in a resolution calling for strong federal legislation to fix our broken chemical safety system. In particular, the Environmental Council of the States (ECOS) resolution called for policy that “Ensures the preservation of state authority to protect citizens and the environment from toxic exposures and to manage chemicals of concern.” The same report offers seven case studies illustrating how state agencies have contributed to our nation’s knowledge of how to identify and control hazardous chemicals.
“Federal policies need to reverse the prevailing assumption that all chemicals are safe unless proven otherwise.” Environmental Council of the States
Interstate Chemicals Clearinghouse
State, local, and tribal governments have united in a voluntary effort to protect the public from toxic chemicals. Through the Interstate Chemicals Clearinghouse, these officials share data and strategies to better understand and manage chemical hazards, exposure and alternatives. By sharing their resources, they increase their capacity to protect the public and the environment.
States Moving the Market
Nonprofit state advocacy groups are a critical force for action to protect people from chemicals. These groups have been effective organizers of consumer campaigns to demand safer products from retailers and manufacturers. In 2011 when Johnson and Johnson pledged to phase out toxic chemicals from their products, they noted that consumer demand was a significant driver of their action. State advocates are an important partner in the Mind The Store campaign urging retailers to eliminate the “Hazardous Hundred” toxic chemicals in products.
“We’ve been listening to you, and that’s why we’ve made a public pledge to reduce or eliminate certain ingredients in our baby and beauty products worldwide.” Johnson & Johnson