Advocating for safer chemicals in the states can be a tough fight. Often states are up against big money, opponents who don't play fair, and messy politics. But we are still winning. In fact, policies that protect communities from toxic chemicals have been enacted in over 34 states. And those wins have led to protections well beyond the borders of those states.
A few weeks ago, the Center for Pubic Integrity released a jaw-dropping report on the American Chemistry Council's lobbying activities in the states. Backed by a $100 million annual budget, the chemical industry's lobby had their fingers in just about every state legislature considering policy to regulate toxic chemicals this year.
So yes, there can be big money against us, which can make for a harrowing path to victory at times. But states, backed by consumer demand, are continuing to win. Here are some recent highlights from the states:
- Vermont passed the first-ever ban on two forms of toxic Tris flame retardants in home furniture.
- Minnesota passed the first-ever ban on formaldehyde in children's personal care products, and also passed a ban on BPA in children's food packaging.
- Maine overcame massive ACC influence to ban BPA in baby food containers, after identifying safer alternatives to the hormone disrupter.
- Washington required product manufacturers to reveal the toxic chemicals in more than 5,000 children's products.
- Nevada adopted a ban on BPA in baby food and infant formula containers.
- California is on the verge of adopting new regulations to require companies to identify safer chemicals and materials for use in consumer products.
These victories, some small and some big, are creating a safer world. They require companies to stop using harmful chemicals. And they send a message to the marketplace that toxic chemicals aren't welcome, no matter how much industry pushesand it's a message companies are starting to hear.
As we've seen before, wins in one state can encourage other states to adopt their own versions of these policies. And once there is a critical mass of state victories, the federal government starts to take notice and take action. We wouldn't have a federal phase out of Deca-BDE flame retardants, or a FDA ban on BPA in baby bottles, without strong precedents from the states.
Of course state health advocates have lost state legislative fights this year too. But those states are coming back in 2014 stronger than ever, determined to protect public health. Ultimately, the state drumbeat, backed by citizen demand, will drown out ACC and their allies, and we'll have safer chemicals for our kids and our world.