We Can No Longer Be Silent

By Karen Wexell, RN

If someone asked you to enroll your child in a research study that gave your child a bath in a product full of harmful chemicals or play with a toy that contained chemicals that disrupt their hormones during their developmental years, would you? No, that would be irresponsible and absurd!

Our children explore the world by touch and putting toys into their mouths; they nap and sleep 10-13 hours each day. As parents we try our best to make choices that protect them so they grow up healthy.

However, the reality is chemicals are being used in manufacturing of children’s products like nap mats, mattresses and even toys that have not been proven safe.

Regulations dating back to 1976 and the Toxic Substances Control Act are outdated because there are over 83,000 chemicals in commerce today. Sixty-two thousand were grandfathered into place when the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) was enacted with little or no safety testing. Connecticut legislators are being asked to step up to the plate and take action to protect our children from the exposure to toxic chemicals. Your voice is needed to show support.

As a consumer you may assume products you purchase are safe and if they can be potentially harmful there will be a warning label. But that is not a fact. As a nurse working as poison information specialist for over 10 years I know just about everything can be toxic in the wrong dose. Every exposure is evaluated several ways before toxicity if predicted. We ask about the patient’s age, weight, extent of exposure, duration and chronicity. We also look at the concentration, dose and kinetics of a product, how long does it stick around in the body. It is a multifaceted evaluation.

Toxicity is not determined solely on the chemical composition of a product, if enough is ingested, poured and left on your skin or inhaled adverse symptoms of toxicity can develop. This is true even with products generally considered safe. Most importantly when an exposure occurs a poison specialist always asks ‘what does the patient look like, what symptoms to they have?’

So what does the patient look like! Leukemia, brain cancer, and other childhood cancers have increased 20% since 1975. Breast cancer rates rose 40% between 1973 and 1998. Autism diagnosis has increased more than 10 times in the last 15 years. Difficulty conceiving affected 40% more women in 2002 than in 1982. Asthma has doubled in prevalence from 1980 and 1995.

As a nation we are spending more in health care costs than any other nation in the world. Why? Because we are not focusing our efforts upstream where the problems arise, we barely regulate the chemical industry with a law that outdated and 37 years old!

Why is the Chemical Industry fighting to stop regulation of chemicals? Raised Bill 6526 Toxics Disclosure and Innovation for Healthy Children requires manufacturers to disclose toxic chemicals used in children’s products and to label products so consumers who want to make a conscious choice have the opportunity to do so. Current laws do not require this.

We need our CT legislators to protect our most valuable and vulnerable population.

Since federal reform of TSCA is stalled by the chemical industry’s lobbyists, States need to take steps to begin identifying what toxic chemicals are being used in children’s products. CT Raised Bill 6526 Toxics Disclosure and Innovation for Healthy Children and HB 6332 The Ban on Toxic fire retardants in Children’s Products are leaps in the right direction.

Manufacturers will be required to report the use of toxic chemicals in children’s products, develop plan to shift to safer alternative. The use of specific chemicals used as fire retardants that are linked to cancer will be eliminated in children’s products like  nursing pillows, crib mattresses, nap mats and changing pads.

Please take action and contact your legislator and ask for support of RB 6256 Toxics Disclosure and Innovation for Healthy Children and HB 6332 The Ban on Toxic fire retardants in Children’s Products.

State Senator Linares voted against HB 6332 The Ban on Toxic fire retardants in Children’s Products in the Environment Committee and your calls and letters are needed to let him know you hope he will change his mind and vote in favor of protecting children from toxic flame retardants when the bill goes to the House.

We can no longer be silent and allow toxic chemicals to be used in children’s products that are linked to cancer, asthma and infertility.

Originally posted here.