Oregon’s Kids Look Forward to Toxic Free Play

Oregon Senate Passes Toxic Free Kids Act

Salem, OR – July 1, 2015: Today, the Oregon Senate voted to pass the Toxic Free Kids Act (SB 478), a bill that would begin filling the gaps in Oregonians’ understanding of how, when and in what quantities our children are exposed to hazardous chemicals, and then help to phase those chemicals out of consumer products.

“The Toxic Free Kids Act is a responsible approach to a serious public health issue and a reasonable first step for Oregon,” said Oregon Environmental Council Executive Director Andrea Durbin. “Parents can’t do it alone. Doctors can’t do it alone. Protecting our children’s health requires that we all take responsibility. I’m pleased to see the Oregon Senate step up and do what’s right for our kids.” 

Lack of data on exposure is a significant barrier to understanding the risks posed by hazardous chemicals. Under the Toxic Free Kids Act the Oregon Health Authority will establish a list of priority chemicals that pose the greatest concern to children’s health. They will collect the data we need to understand where and in what quantity hazardous chemicals occur in children’s products. And they will set in motion a process to replace hazardous chemicals with safer alternatives.

When passed, the Toxic Free Kids Act could also lead to significant savings for the state: The yearly cost of just four childhood health problems linked to chemical exposures in the U.S.—lead poisoning, asthma, cancer, and developmental disabilities—is more than $54 billion.

“We know from a large body of literature that certain chemicals in everyday products are linked to carcinogenic risk, hormone disruption, and to neurodevelopment,” said Joel Nigg, Ph.D., a child clinical psychologist and research scientist at OHSU. “Reducing these exposures any way we can is a high priority for public health. By passing the Toxic Free Kids Act, the Oregon Senate has begun to address fundamental and avoidable contributors to chronic health conditions. This measure sets the tone for improved attention to children’s health in our society.”

Championed by Senator Chris Edwards and Representative Alissa Keny-Guyer, the bill garnered widespread support among responsible businesses, the health provider community and parents alike.

“At Staples, our goal is to avoid chemicals and products that are harmful to human health,” said Roger McFadden, Vice President and Senior Scientists at Staples, Inc. “And to offer organizations alternatives that are inherently safer for human and environmental health. The Toxic Free Kids Act will help companies make the transition to safer alternatives. Which is not only the right thing to do for communities but it is the right thing to do for businesses.”

The act will now move to a floor vote in the Oregon House, where it is expected to gather support from a wide variety of legislators on both sides of the aisle. An earlier version of the Toxic Free Kids Act passed the House in 2013, but was never considered by the Senate.

About Oregon Environmental Council

Oregon Environmental Council safeguards what Oregonians love about Oregon—clean air and water, an unpolluted landscape and healthy food produced by local farmers. For more than 45 years we've been a champion for solutions to protect the health of every Oregonian and the place we call home. Find out more at www.oeconline.org.

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