Toxics Disclosure for Healthy Kids Act Faces Legislature

House Bill 4123 would require the Oregon Health Authority to publish a list of high priority chemicals used in children’s products

 January 27, 2012 -- Protecting young children from harmful chemical exposures is a top priority of Rep. Alissa Keny-Guyer (D-Portland).

“If we have the data, we can do better planning to reduce our exposures to chemicals that have been shown to cause birth defects, learning disabilities and childhood cancers,” she said. “It’s important for the state to protect its citizens.”

Keny-Guyer is introducing legislation during next week’s special session that would require the Oregon Health Authority to publish a list of high-priority chemicals found in children’s toys and cosmetics and in personal care products such as lotions and shampoos.

”We’re definitely not asking for a ban on any product,” she insisted.

As a starting place, parents want to know what chemicals their children are being exposed to, according to Renee Hackenmiller-Paradis, program director of environmental health for the Oregon Environmental Council, which backs the legislation.

“Without this information, it’s difficult for them to make appropriate choices for their children,” she said.

A list of 16 chemicals, along with their potential health impacts, would be posted on the Oregon Health Authority’s website and be identified by the Department of Environmental Quality and Washington’s Department of Ecology, which already publishes such a list following passage of legislation in 2008.  

Manufacturers would be given 18 months to disclose chemical information on products sold in Oregon and the Oregon Health Authority would have the discretion to share information about chemical ingredients with other states.

Keny-Guyer realizes her bill faces heavy opposition from the chemical industry, but isn’t deterred.

“They don’t want us to know about these chemicals because they’re afraid we’ll try to get rid of them,” she said. “But nothing in this bill does that. This bill just gives information to parents so they can make informed choices for their family. Without this information, we don’t know where the problems are.”

With lawmakers focused on transforming the healthcare system during the short February session, Keny-Guyer believes this legislation moves in the right direction because it’s focused on prevention.

“I’m a passionate supporter of health transformation and prevention and this bill fits well with transformation,” said Keny-Guyer, who’s succeeded in getting 20 legislators to co-sponsor House Bill 4123, both Republicans and Democrats. “This is a public health and a consumer protection issue.”  

Reducing chemical exposures, she said, also plays an important role in improving healthcare quality and controlling costs. 

Toxic chemical exposure is a risk factor for cancer, which cost Oregon $2.6 billion in 2007 for healthcare, lost productivity and diminished earning potential.

It’s also a risk factor for birth defects ($2.8 million a year) and neurobehavioral disorders ($187.1 million a year).

Chemicals also contribute to an epidemic of chronic diseases and disorders such as thyroid disease, cancers, asthmas, learning and developmental disabilities, birth defects, reproductive disorders

Early Childhood is Critical Time

Early childhood is considered the most critical time to prevent toxic exposure and bio-monitoring studies have found much higher concentrations of toxic chemicals in younger children. 

“We want to get these products identified because people have the right to know; we need to track the data and identify where the exposure is,” Keny-Guyer said.

Oregon can be the next state to lead in protecting our children’s health by reducing unnecessary exposures to toxic chemicals in the products they come in contact with daily, according to Hackenmiller-Paradis.

“Every Oregonian has a right to grow up safe and healthy, without exposures to toxic chemicals that threaten development and long-term health. It is vital to safeguard those most vulnerable to chemical exposures – pregnant women, infants, children, and workers. Safe and clean design of chemicals, materials, and products is good for businesses, workers, communities, and ecosystems. Using chemicals wisely will ensure a healthy Oregon for future generations, from thriving wildlife to clean air, water, soil, and food for all.”

Also, Washington, Maine, Minnesota, and California have all recently passed laws that seek to identify chemicals of concern for human health, provide more information about the chemicals in consumer products--with an emphasis on products used by children, and in the case of Maine require that safer alternatives be used for known toxics ingredients in children’s.

“These new laws and policies will make our children, our families and our environment healthier,” she said. “Oregon can be the next state to lead in protecting our children’s health by reducing unnecessary exposures to toxic chemicals in the products they come in contact with daily.  Every Oregonian has a right to grow up safe and healthy, without exposures to toxic chemicals that threaten development and long-term health. It is vital to safeguard those most vulnerable to chemical exposures – pregnant women, infants, children, and workers. Safe and clean design of chemicals, materials, and products is good for businesses, workers, communities, and ecosystems. Using chemicals wisely will ensure a healthy Oregon for future generations, from thriving wildlife to clean air, water, soil, and food for all.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION

To read the entire bill, click .

For more details about toxics disclosures, click .

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Comments

Thanks for posting such a vital topic. The Body Burden in children becomes more apparent when we see health challenges appearing in children at ages normally seen in older people. Learning to detect and identify toxic chemicals in products is a good start. Learning how to make better choices can only come from information. Another good resource is the Environmental Working Group. ~RosemarysSolutions.com