Legislation to Reign in Toxic Chemical Use Passes in Senate

Alliance For A Healthy Tomorrow News Release

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Precedent-setting Safer Alternatives Bill Will Prevent Illnesses

(Boston, MA) Today the Massachusetts Senate passed legislation that will safeguard public health by replacing toxic chemicals with safer alternatives. Supporters of An Act for a Healthy Massachusetts: Safer Alternatives to Toxic Chemicals (The Safer Alternatives Bill) praised the Senate's action that takes the bill one step closer to becoming law. The bill would also help Massachusetts expand trade with foreign markets that have recently tightened toxic chemical standards such as the European Union.

Led by Senator Steven Tolman (D-Brighton) and Senator Pam Resor (D-Acton), efforts to move the bill forward in the Senate gained momentum in the wake of last year's product recalls over hazardous ingredients such as lead in children's toys and lipstick. It is supported by the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow (AHT), a coalition of over 160 organizations -health, labor, scientific, environmental, faith and community groups - working to promote the use of safer alternatives to toxic chemicals where feasible. Legislative sponsors and advocates from AHT proposed the legislation in response to mounting scientific evidence that indicates toxic chemicals are contributing to a chronic disease epidemic.

"The Senators have realized that this is a business friendly way to protect our health from toxic chemicals. It gently weans companies off outdated toxic chemicals by providing safer and more competitive alternatives," said Lee Ketelsen, Clean Water Action Regional Director. "We owe President Murray, and all Senate champions, our thanks for their leadership in protecting the health and economy of Massachusetts."

"Asking manufacturers to make safer products is nothing extraordinary especially when proven, effective alternatives to toxic chemicals exist," said Senator Pamela Resor (D-Acton), Co-Chair of the Environment Committee. "Massachusetts is poised to be the leader in the nation for promoting toxic substitution with the important research being done at the Toxic Use Reduction Institute (TURI) at UMass Lowell. If we can keep toxics out of everyday products, then we will be safeguarding the health of our environment and our children."

"This legislation will put Massachusetts at the forefront of responsible chemical policy and safeguard the residents of the Commonwealth from the very real and unseen dangers of toxic chemicals, "said Senator Steven Tolman (D-Brighton), lead Senate sponsor of the bill. "These chemicals have, unfortunately, become a part of our everyday lives and have been proven to be the root cause of many of the health disorders affecting the people of this state."

The Safer Alternatives Bill will require evaluation of designated "Priority Toxic Chemicals" which are used in Massachusetts and are linked to chronic illnesses, and then mandate safer alternatives to these chemicals where feasible. The bill will provide for transition assistance to businesses and increase the international competitiveness of Massachusetts businesses.

"We applaud the action of those Senators who took a stand to defend public health and we are hopeful that members of the House do the same," said Erin Boles, Associate Executive Director of the Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition. "This is a great day for families across the state who are struggling with cancer and other illnesses linked to toxic chemicals - today's vote in the Senate gives us all hope for a healthier tomorrow."

A majority of House members supports the bill, including lead sponsor Representative Jay Kaufman (D-Lexington) and Representative Frank Smizik (D-Brookline), Co-Chair of the Environment Committee.