From before we are born until the time we die, every one of us is repeatedly and regularly exposed to toxic chemicals that can seriously harm our health. Chemicals in our homes, schools and workplaces, found in such seemingly benign places as personal care products, cleaning products, toys, pet products, furniture, clothing, food, and water, have been linked to asthma, cancer, learning disabilities, reproductive damage, and a host of other diseases and disorders.
Current environment and health policies are outdated and do not protect us. The result is that toxic substances end up in our bodies without our knowledge or consent. We have seen that ignoring early warning signs can result in serious illness. Our individual rights and our quality of life are threatened by harmful pollution and products.
In Massachusetts, Clean Water Action is a founding member of the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow (AHT), a coalition of citizens, scientists, health professionals, workers, and educators seeking preventive action on toxic hazards. Our goal is to correct fundamental flaws in government policies that allow harm to our health and environment.
Pass the Healthy Families and Businesses Act – An Act for Healthy Families and Businesses (H.235, S.354, sponsored by Rep. Jay Kaufman & Sen. Kenneth Donnelly) would protect the health of Massachusetts citizens and save in health care costs. This bill would create a comprehensive yet flexible program to replace toxic chemicals that harm the health of children or adults and replace them with safer alternatives wherever feasible, as well as support businesses in the transition. There has never been a better time to push for toxics legislation. It also stimulates research and development on new technologies and solutions when a safer option is not currently workable. For workers and businesses, it proposes programs to assist in the transition.
Pass the Safe Cleaning Products Bill – Toxic cleaning chemicals threaten the health of the workers who use them and the children and adults who live or work in the buildings where they are used. Cleaning chemicals have been linked to asthma, certain types of cancers, reproductive problems, stillbirths, and birth defects. An Act to Require Environmentally Safe Alternatives to Harmful Cleaning Products (H-624, sponsored by Representative Frank Smizik) would reduce asthma and other health threats by requiring that only cleaning products approved by the Department of Public Health be used in public schools, hospitals, health care facilities, day care centers and public housing common spaces.
Protect children's health from BPA – Children are uniquely vulnerable to threats from toxic chemicals as their bodies and brains are rapidly developing, yet many products designed for use by and for children contain toxic ingredients that leach out into children's bodies. One such chemical is Bisphenol A (BPA) which mimics the hormone estrogen and disrupts the body's endocrine system. In animal studies, BPA exposure is linked to early onset of puberty, increased diabetes risk, hyperactivity, and certain cancers, including breast cancer. BPA is found in polycarbonate plastic and is in many common products including baby bottles, sippy cups, teethers, toys, pacifiers, utensils, and in the lining of cans of baby formula and other food.
Unfortunately, BPA is found in numerous other sources and we can't avoid it on our own just by being conscientious consumers. Clean Water Action and Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow are calling on Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and the Department of Public Health to protect the public health from BPA by prohibiting the sale of specific consumer products which expose children to toxic components and encourage their replacement with safer alternatives.
Reform of our nation's chemical laws - Our nation's major chemical law, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), has not been updated since it was passed in 1976. In other words, it's woefully out of date. Clean Water Action is joining with colleagues around the country to call on our federal legislators to reform TSCA so that the US:
Campaign for Safe Cosmetics – Clean Water Action and the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow are founding members of the national Campaign for Safe Cosmetics which is calling on all cosmetics and personal care companies to protect our health by phasing out the use of chemicals linked to cancer, birth defects and other health concerns in every market they serve.
Ban on BPA in baby bottles and cups
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health banned toxic BPA in baby bottles and cups, making Massachusetts the 8th state to do so. This is an important step, but only a part of what is needed because it still leaves infants and toddlers vulnerable to exposure to the toxic BPA in infant formula and baby food packaging. It also does nothing to reduce exposure to pregnant women, problematic because a significant time for concern about BPA exposure is during fetal development.
(December 15, 2010)
Principles to guide the reform of TSCA
Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner, Laurie Burt, joined forces with officials from twelve other states to dictate a set of eight guiding principles to be used for reform of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) -- a law from 1976 which provides the EPA with the authority to regulate toxic chemicals.
(December 2, 2009)
Executive Order to Purchase Preferable Products
Governor Patrick issued Environmental Purchasing Executive Order to buy Preferable Products and services. The Massachusetts state agencies will be using their purchasing power to purchase products and services that are less toxic and more environmentally sustainable. The executive order directed the executive branch office and agencies to "...reduce their impact on the environment and enhance public health by procuring Environmentally Preferable Products and services (EPPs) whenever such products and services are readily available, perform to satisfactory standards, and represent best value."
(October 27, 2009)
BPA Warning for Pregnant Women
Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) issued a consumer warning for pregnant women to avoid products containing BPA.
(August 3, 2009)
Massachusetts Ban Lead in Children’s Jewelry
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) announced new regulations banning the manufacture, transport or sale of children’s jewelry containing a concentration of lead that either is more than 600 ppm total lead content, or that would expose a child to greater than 15 ug (micrograms) of lead per day over a chronic exposure period. Later in 2008 a federal law was passed that preempted the state regulation, but the action by MDPH helped set the stage for what was later done at the federal level.
(March 12, 2008)
Safer Alternatives Bill passed
An Act for a Healthy Massachusetts: Safer Alternatives to Toxic Chemicals passed in the Senate unanimously. The Safer Alternatives Bill will safeguard public health by replacing toxic chemicals with safer alternatives. Unfortunately it was not brought up for a vote in the House before the 2007-2008 legislative session ended, despite widespread support.
(January 29, 2008)
Mercury Products Bill Signed into Law
The Mercury Products Bill was Signed into Law by Mitt Romney after a six year campaign by Clean Water Action. An Act Relative to Mercury Management is among the strongest of an increasing number of state laws across the country that will dramatically reduce emissions resulting from the use of mercury-containing products. The bill will phase out the use of certain mercury-containing products that have safer alternatives and will require manufacturers to set up collection programs to keep discarded products out of the waste stream.
(July 31, 2006)
Funding included in State Budget for Safter Alternatives Analysis
In July of 2005 the Legislature allocated $250,000 to the Toxic Use Reductions Institute (TURI) at UMass to assess the safety, and feasibility of alternatives to major uses of five widely used toxic chemicals. The study was completed in July 2006. The results served as a call to action for lawmakers to pass An Act for a Healthy Massachusetts: Safer Alternatives to Toxic Chemicals in the 2007-2008 session. “The Safer Alternatives Bill” will encourage companies to use safer alternatives to toxic chemicals, whenever the alternatives are available and feasible.
“We overrode a veto by Governor Romney and authorized funding for this study because we saw the need to prevent health damage caused by toxic chemicals,” said Representative Jay Kaufman (D-Lexington).
(July 14, 2005)