Protecting our Health from Toxic Chemicals

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Every day, we are exposed to toxic chemicals in food, water, the environment, and consumer products. While most Americans assume that products must be tested for safety before they are put on store shelves, many of the items in stores and our homes contain chemicals known to be toxic. Many more chemicals in everyday use have never been tested for safety. Cleaning agents, personal care products, household furniture, food packaging, and children’s toys all contain chemicals of concern.

Many of these chemicals are linked to serious health problems that are on the rise in Massachusetts and nationally such as certain cancers, infertility, developmental delays, and asthma. Children and pregnant women are especially vulnerable to the effects of toxic chemicals and communities of color and low-income communities are often disproportionately exposed.

Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow

In 2002, Clean Water Action/Clean Water Fund and allies founded the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow (AHT), a coalition of citizens, scientists, health professionals, workers and educators seeking preventive action on toxic hazards. AHT and Clean Water work together to protect people from toxic chemicals. We advocate for a precautionary approach, with chemicals tested and proven safe before they are put in consumer products and released to the environment. We fight for the elimination of toxic hazards known to harm health and the environment.

Legislative Priorities

Our legislative priorities for 2019-20 are:

  • Ban 11 of the most toxic flame retardant from use in residential furniture, mattresses, and children’s products.
  • Ban per and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) chemicals from food packaging. 
  • Require manufacturers selling children’s products, personal care items, and formulated products (gels and liquids) in Massachusetts to disclose to the state if their products contain toxic chemicals.

Read more about 2019-2020 legislative priorities for more details.

Mind the Store

Clean Water partners with Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families to convince major retailers—including Massachusetts-based TJC Corporation, Ahold Delhaize (Stop and Shop) and Staples—to get toxic chemicals out of their products.

Read more about Mind the Store.

Administrative Advocacy

Nano-technology: Clean Water is pressing the state of Massachusetts to develop systems to oversee the emerging nano-technology industry.

Nano-materials are tiny engineered particles which may be hazardous to our health.  Nanomaterials are between 1-100 nanometers in size.  A nanometer is 1/billionth of a meter, often just a few atoms in size.

Massachusetts, known as the fourth largest center of nano-manufacturing in the United States, does not provide any oversight over nano-material development.  Nano-materials are being developed to deliver medicine, fight cancer, improve the tensile strength of athletic equipment, and make sunscreen more easily absorbent.  Nano-materials are in infant formula, some foods and a wide range of other technical and consumer uses.  As research emerges on the high toxicity and explosivity of nano-materials, plus the bio-availability of these tiny objects, it is important that the state knows how and where nano-materials are being manufactured, used or released.  Safety needs to accompany exploration of new materials and uses.

Municipal action

Green Procurement: Across the country, more jurisdictions and institutions are adopting green procurement policies, using their purchasing dollars to buy healthier and more environmentally benign products. Clean Water is working with communities to encourage adoption of green procurement policies. We are helping communities understand which toxic chemicals to avoid and how a focus on healthier materials can be incorporated into existing municipal policies focused on energy and water.

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