States in the Lead

Lobbying for chemical reform. Photo credit: Clean Water Action

A Voice for Minnesota Kids: Protecting children from harm is a responsibility shared by all adults. This year, a group of Minnesota parents and grandparents are doing all they can to protect children’s health from toxic chemicals. As part of the Voices for Kids Teams, members serve as the voice for Minnesota’s children at the state capitol and within their communities, advocating for state policies that protect kids. Whether meeting with lawmakers, testifying before legislative committees or writing letters to the editor, the Voices for Kids Teams are playing a critical role. Visit this page for more information.

Green Procurement in Connecticut: Clean Water Action is working in Connecticut is to get Governor Malloy to sign an executive order mandating procurement of green materials, including furniture that is free of carcinogenic flame retardants. Anne Hulick and Susan Eastwood, from Clean Water Action in Hartford, have met with the Commissioner of Administrative Services and the Governor’s staff to open a dialogue and discuss next steps. The Yale Student Environmental Coalition presented the film “Toxic Hot Seat” to help raise awareness of issues of toxic chemicals in products on their campus. Partner groups across the state are planning additional showings to educate the public as well as the fire fighters, and to build momentum for a green procurement executive order. Visit this page for more information.

The Fight Against Flame Retardants in Massachusetts: We are exposed to toxic flame retardants on a daily basis. These chemicals — often added to upholstered furniture, car seats, toys, and many more household products — are linked to cancer, birth defects, decreased fertility, nervous system damage, and other health problems. They migrate out of products and wind up in dust, then in our bodies, and even in breast milk. Tragically, fire fighters have higher rates of cancer than others because burning furniture, products and building materials release high levels of flame retardants and other toxic chemicals.

What’s worse, flame retardants often do little to stop the spread of fires in our homes. There are nontoxic options, but they’ve been off the table for decades because fire codes have necessitated the use of flame retardants, despite the fact that in many cases they were causing cancer but not stopping fires. A 2013 change in California’s fire code has made it possible for consumers nationwide to purchase flame retardant free furniture. Massachusetts’ fire code for public spaces (except for Boston) was updated in 2014 and now places like universities and hospitals have the option of purchasing flame retardant free furniture.

Clean Water Action is looking to take this a step further. Senator Cynthia Creem and Representative Marjorie Decker have introduced bills that would prohibit the sale of children’s products and household furniture that contain toxic flame retardants. Visit this page for more information.