This spring, Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) reintroduced major legislation to protect children from toxic chemicals found in everyday consumer products. Known as the Kid-Safe Chemicals Act, the bill aims to overhaul current legislation that allows more than 80,000 chemicals on the market with little or no safety testing.
“Every day, consumers rely on household products that contain hundreds of chemicals. The American public expects the federal government to keep families safe by testing chemicals—but the government is letting them down,” Sen. Lautenberg said in a 2008 press release.
The Kid-Safe Chemicals Act will require that chemicals be proven safe before entering the market and that priority testing occur on chemicals found in food, drinking water and indoor air. The act focuses on infants and children because they are one of the groups most vulnerable to chemical exposure, explains Sandra Schubert, director of government affairs at the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonprofit organization. In 2006, EWG spearheaded a study that tested umbilical cord blood that found babies are pre-polluted with almost 300 industrial chemicals, many of which have been shown to cause adverse health effects.
“Children are being exposed to these chemicals during the most sensitive period of development,” Schubert says. “If you protect kids, you’re protecting everybody else.”
Though members of both the House and Senate have introduced the act before, Schubert believes that the timing is right to pass strict chemical regulation, citing consumers’ recent concern over potentially toxic chemicals found in everything from baby bottles to stain-resistant carpet.
“Everywhere from the ground up people are pushing to fix this problem,” she says. “The time is right to reform chemical legislation.”