Lurking within common household products is a toxic brew. Take shampoos for instance. Most contain either sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) or sodium laureth sulphate (SLES) which are known skin irritants, and parabens which are linked to various kinds of cancers. Look at the labels of other personal care products or household cleaners. Then, look up the ingredients. You will find more toxic chemicals. The problem is that the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), enacted in 1976, has never been updated. However, a new coalition of top consumer brands are pushing for Congress to update chemical safety laws.
The coalition, called Companies for Safer Chemicals, is led by the American Sustainable Business Council and Seventh Generation. Other companies participating include Patagonia, Stonyfield Farm, Aubrey Organics, Method, Naturepedic, Badger, Annie's, EILEEN FISHER, Zarbee's Naturals, Keys, Think Dirty, and Beautycounter. All participating companies signed a declaration which states, "As companies and business leaders we're asking Congress to pass comprehensive and effective chemical safety reform legislation now." The declaration is also a petition that the coalition is urging consumers to sign.
"Federal chemical reform is desperately needed, but after twenty-five years of doing business, we know we can't do it alone," said John Replogle, CEO of Seventh Generation. "We're honored to be joined by such a diverse group of socially responsible businesses and we're looking forward to driving change that will protect the health of future generations."
"Meaningful reform will speed to market cleaner and safer products and allow companies to meet increasing consumer demand," said David Levine, CEO of the American Sustainable Business Council. "Effective policy reform will drive economic growth and job creation."
Last spring, the U.S. Senate introduced the Safe Chemicals Act. The advocacy group,
Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families expresses concerns that the bill needs improvement, and for that reason doesn't support it. Perhaps Congress can take a cue from the most populous state, California, which has already enacted a law that would better protect consumers. It ensures healthier consumer products by requiring manufacturers to find safer alternatives to harmful ingredients in widely used products.
Or maybe Congress can take a cue from two leading companies who made announcements in September regarding removing toxic chemicals from products. Walmart announced that it will remove or reduce about 10 toxic chemicals from certain products sold in its stores (but it has not yet announced which chemicals). The products include household cleaners, cosmetics and personal products. The company will require its suppliers by 2015 to reveal if using the toxic chemicals, and in 2018 the suppliers will be required to list any remaining chemicals from Walmart's list on product packaging. Procter & Gamble, the world's largest consumer products manufacturer announced that it will remove two toxic chemicals, triclosan and diethyl phthalate (DEP) from all of its products by 2014.
Image: Susan dp