Toxics Bill Progresses Through House Committees

The Toxic-Free Families Act (S. 239), a VPIRG-led bill that aims to protect Vermonters’ health by better regulating known toxic chemicals, passed the Senate 18-12 and prompt action in the House is essential to the success of this important legislation. Fortunately, the bill has already gained approval of the House Fish & Wildlife Committee, the House Committee on Ways & Means, and the Appropriations Committee in the last couple of weeks.

With time in the 2013-2014 legislative biennium running short, industry lobbyists stepped up their pressure on the Vermont House, which must also pass the legislation for the law to take effect.

Check out the VTDigger stories, http://vtdigger.org/2014/04/18/bill-toxic-chemicals-clears-committee/ and http://vtdigger.org/2014/04/24/house-ways-means-oks-toxic-chemicals-bill/.

While it’s no surprise that lobbyists representing giant chemical companies and the petroleum industry swarm the State House whenever legislation is proposed that would protect public health by restricting the use of certain toxic chemicals, it has been surprising and disturbing to see even those representing toy makers oppose meaningful reform.

From teething rings to Teddy bears and painted trains to piggy banks, our children’s toys can, believe it or not, still contain toxins that are particularly harmful to kids. And lobbyists representing the “Toy Industry Association” have been fighting to keep it that way in Vermont.

At VPIRG’s urging, Vermont has taken action in the past against some of the worst toxins like mercury, lead, BPA, and phthalates. But pressing legislators to ban one chemical at a time is not good enough.  The federal government’s failure to protect us from dangerous toxins lurking in household products, including children’s toys, makes it clear that we need a more comprehensive approach.

Three Steps to Safety outlined in S.239

There are three essential steps to providing better protection from toxins in toys and a wide range of other household products sold in Vermont:

  1. IDENTIFY – Determine the most harmful chemicals currently used in products found on our store shelves.
  2. DISCLOSE – Require companies to tell us which of their children’s products contain these toxic chemicals.
  3. PROTECT – Eliminate the most dangerous chemicals from toys and other products manufactured or sold in Vermont.

As the lobbyists from the chemical companies, and even toy industry, fight to weaken or defeat S. 239, moms and dads, firefighters and medical professionals are standing up and demanding action.

They’re all fed up with a broken system that allows both children and adults to be unknowingly exposed to harmful toxins in everyday products. It’s time to stand up to the chemical companies and industry lobbyists and protect all Vermonters from unnecessary exposure to toxic chemicals.

With your help, we can win.

Click here to send a message to your Representative asking for their support of the Toxic-Free Families Act (S.239).